Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough commissioner on the hook for his legal fees

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White will have to pay his own legal bills stemming from last year's sexual discrimination verdict against him.

An insurance company has denied White's claim for reimbursement, saying a policy held by the county does not cover intentional acts of wrongdoing. Barring further information from White's attorney, the commissioner is on the hook for his own expenses.

Now, his fellow commissioners will seek to press White on his willingness to pay some portion of the county's costs stemming from its role in the August trial. Commissioner Rose Ferlita said Wednesday she will seek a resolution when the board meets in two weeks.

"I feel we need to settle this," Ferlita said. "Let's get this done."

White did not speak during the discussion. But he said afterward that he is still trying to get a fix on the finality of the insurance company's ruling.

He said he's not prepared to say how much, if any, of the county's tab he would be willing or able to pay until he is certain of his own expenses.

"Once we have all of the details, I look forward to moving forward and getting this behind me as well," White said. "The county has more pressing issues to deal with. This has been lingering long enough."

A federal civil jury in April found that White sexually discriminated against former aide Alyssa Ogden by firing her for refusing his repeated sexual advances.

The judge and jury in the case found the county jointly liable, saying it lacked adequate workplace harassment protection for commissioners' employees.

The trial and preparation for it cost the county about $490,000. That included a $75,000 damage award for Ogden, a little more than $200,000 in reimbursement for her lawyer, and almost $200,000 in legal expenses.

The county has an insurance policy to cover such expenses. But it has a $350,000 deductible and doesn't cover Ogden's $75,000 damage award. Representatives of the insurer have confirmed the policy will pay the balance, which is about $66,000.

But some county officials had feared that, with the deductible met, White would be able to submit a claim for his privately hired lawyers and have it fully paid. He has declined to disclose his outside legal expenses, other than to say they are close to what the county spent, or almost $200,000.

A letter from Meadowbrook Insurance Group received by the county this week appears to deny that possibility. It does give White's lawyer an opportunity to submit an appeal.

"At this point in time, they've made their decision that it's not payable," said Christina Swanson, the county's director of employee benefits and risk management. "We consider the case closed as far as we're concerned."

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or

Hillsborough commissioner on the hook for his legal fees 01/06/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL


    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  2. Reporter says Republican candidate in Montana body-slammed him (w/video)


    HELENA, Mont. — Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election. Authorities said late Wednesday that Greg Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault over incident with …

    Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March. [Associated Press]
  3. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  4. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs


    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  5. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment