Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

White sues to get payment for his legal fees

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White is going on the offensive, claiming in a lawsuit that he's the one who should be getting paid back for expenses from his sexual discrimination trial last year.

White says in the first claim filed in U.S. District Court on Friday that an insurance company that covered some of the county's costs from the August trial should pick up his legal bill, too.

And he claims the county violated that insurance policy by failing to defend him in the case, or to accept a settlement from the former aide who had sued him.

White's attorney, Michael V. Laurato, says the county's insurance policy from State National Insurance Co. is meant to cover liability from just such episodes. The county pays about $500,000 annually for the policy.

Laurato says commissioners seem more intent on making political statements about White than in making sure taxpayer money is well spent. By failing to follow the policy, he said, the county may be opening itself to getting turned down for future insurance coverage if it should get hit with a more costly suit.

"The question is, why have they decided to discriminate on insurance benefits for Commissioner White?" Laurato asked. "A responsible public entity would say, 'We spent $500,000 for this policy. It applies all of the time, not some of the time.' "

A former aide to White, Alyssa Ogden, successfully sued both him and the county, saying that White fired her for refusing his repeated sexual advances and that the county offered inadequate redress. A jury awarded her $75,000 in damages, and legal expenses reached more than $400,000.

Commissioners have asked White to chip in on some of the costs, and this year voted to sue him after he declined. Tampa lawyer Richard Harrison has offered to represent the county for free, and commissioners will consider his offer Thursday.

White says he doesn't have the money and owes his own attorneys in the case.

County risk managers filed a claim with their liability insurer after the trial. Despite the premium, the policy has a $350,000 deductible for each claim, and it didn't cover the damages award. The county got just $66,000.

White filed his own claim with the company, but was turned down, with the firm saying he was ineligible because the allegations against him were willful violations. He was also told he had to meet the deductible.

Attempts to reach representatives of the insurer and the acting county attorney were unsuccessful Tuesday night.

Laurato argues the insurer can't reach two different rulings for claims stemming from the same suit in which the county and White were held liable.

"Really what we're looking for in this case is we're looking for the insurance company to pay for his expenses," Laurato said.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

White sues to get payment for his legal fees 06/01/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. Pacific commander: Remains of sailors found on USS John McCain

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet says a number of remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain, a day after the warship's collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing.

    The damaged port aft hull of USS John S. McCain, left, is seen while docked next to USS America at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Singapore. The focus of the search for 10 U.S. sailors missing after a collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters shifted Tuesday to the damaged destroyer's flooded compartments. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: Solar eclipse, gender gap, new schools and more

    Blogs

    TOTAL ECLIPSE: More than 8,000 Hernando County students skip school after their school district gives them excused absences for the day. Students who …

    Students at Bayonet Point Middle School observe the solar eclipse Monday through their special eclipse glasses.
  3. Epilogue: Martin Giles a man of few, but strong, words for WFLA-AM 970

    Obituaries

    As the story goes, his higher-ups at the Misawa Air Base in Japan were clear with their edict to Martin Giles: It was only the mid-1950s, not far enough away from World War II for the Japanese to be trusted.

    Martin Giles, a longtime radio news anchor for WFLA-AM 970, died last week at the age of 80.
  4. Forecast: Minimal rain, for now, as hot temperatures prevail across Tampa Bay

    Weather

    Tampa Bay residents can expect a calm, rain-free start to Tuesday before showers arrive in the evening.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]