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Outside Legal Bills for Firefighter Lawsuit Cost Taxpayers $238,000

Posted on April 3, 2016

Outside Legal Bills for Firefighter Lawsuit Cost Taxpayers $238,000

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City of Tallahassee paid $238,426 to an outside law firm for legal services associated with the lawsuit filed by former City firefighter Mark DeCarlo.

A jury awarded DeCarlo $850,000 in a discrimination lawsuit.

Public documents obtained through a public records request reveal that the City of Tallahassee paid Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. , a Tallahassee based law firm, $238,426 for outside legal services. The payments were made between December 9th, 2013 and February 8th, 2016.

Approximately 90% or $217,227 of the legal bills were paid over a 12-month period ending in February 2016. The City, on average, paid approximately $18,000 per month for outside legal services during this period.

See payment details here.

15 Responses to Outside Legal Bills for Firefighter Lawsuit Cost Taxpayers $238,000

  1. HOPE & CHANGE Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Please publish the budget we are paying for the City’s legal department and how much that bloated, over paid bureaucracy is costing the taxpayers,

    Thank you TR, keep up the good work.

    Follow the light of truth where ever it may lead.

  2. brad Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Business as usual when it come to the city wasting our money just to feed their ego’s and bully the citizens and staff. Screw the money they should have to publicly apologize to the man and then pay him cash at an open commission meeting. Then fire the staff that pushed this so hard if still there and doc the salaries of the department that are left until judgment is paid in full.

  3. Steve Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Why doesn’t this show up in the city’s checkbook?
    https://www.talgov.com/dma/financialtransparency.aspx

    under the vendor Sniffen & Spellman, P.A.? It does list other payments to them, but only about 25,196 in the last couple of years.

  4. Steven Hougland Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I’m a candidate for the City Commission and have made the same observation. Not all transactions are shown in the City Checkbook. In order to get all transactions, I’ve had to make public records requests.

    Steven Hougland

  5. R B Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Just what does the Cities legal staff do (City Attorney ??) Are they not capable of handeling this type of law suit? Let them get into the court room on the firing line now and then —they are on retainer. Also, the Fire Dept . handeling of this whole matter was a disgrace. Thats where “clean house” should start!!!

  6. George Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Yes and it’ll cost a lot more, a pity and all those who had a part in this should be FIRED and all Benefits be forfeited.

  7. bob fulford Reply

    April 4, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Whatever happened to the notion of dragging into the autopsy the staff who made these expensive decisions.

    This, to me, is more than just a big, “Oops”.

    If it has been done report the findings.

  8. Mark Reply

    April 5, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Additional Spellman/City expenses not posted by
    the City…..yet. They are hoping reporters will go away first.
    (1) Defense expensed from 8/FEB/2016 until start of the Federal trial on 22/FEB/2016.
    (2) The large defense team for the FULL 8 DAY trial from 22/FEB/2016 thru 2/MAR/2016.
    (3) The Federal court cost for the Senior Federal
    judge, 8 member jury, multiple federal security,
    senior federal attorney, court recorder and clerk of records.
    (4) Marie Mattox (Plaintiff) 3 years of fees and her full 8 days expenses for the trial.
    (5) This will cost the City over $ 1,000,000.

  9. Mark Reply

    April 5, 2016 at 7:31 am

    (1) The City and Spellman had MULTIPLE opportunities to “RESOLVE” this issue going back to 2013. Both the City and the Spellman gang basically said “NO WAY.”
    (2) They assumed that the altering official phone
    records, pay records, employee time sheets, refusal
    to provide other phone records, not answering public records requests, multiple falsified affidavits, and multiple false statements by City employees and the defense attorneys would win the trial. This statement is back up by exhibits and the records of court testimony.
    (3) Americans are not stupid nor naïve as Anita Favors, Rick Fernandez, Andrew Gillum ,Scott Maddox, Nancy Miller, Cindy Dick and the City cheerleader the Tallahassee Democrat think they are. With that in mind, it is notable that ALL jurors voted against the City on all counts!
    (4) There are still conferences and hearings involving this case which will run up the City’s bill tens of thousands of dollars…..more!
    (5) Naturally, Spellman will convince the City to
    appeal the jury verdict so they can run up the bill another $ 500,000. to $ 1,000,000. He will be
    laughing all the way to the bank for the next couple of years…at tax payer expense.

  10. Mike Reply

    April 5, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Spellman was a City of Tallahassee attorney a few years back. He lost a lot more cases for the city than just this one. Huge conflict of interest ! Maybe him and his old buddies from the city legal department split that money up. That’s why people create conflicts of interest. Michael “Snidely Whiplash” Spellman.

  11. Mark Reply

    April 23, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    CITY HIDING LEGAL EXPENSES:
    Recently it was discovered that the City since early 2015 was telling all personnel that were off duty for testimony to turn-in the checks issued to them by the defense or plaintiff and sign them over to the City. They were told that the City would pay them by giving them “overtime” on their pay. By doing this the CITY hides legal expenses involved in the case. Additionally it comes out of the FIRE SERVICE FEE….DEFRAUDING…..Leon County and City residents. These documents will be provided to Tallahassee Reports.

  12. Mark Reply

    April 23, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    DEATH THREAT MADE AGAINST PLAINTIFF SINCE TRIAL:
    Shortly after the Jury awarded the PLAINTIFF about
    $ 850,000. on 2 March, 2016 after the full eight day Federal Jury trial a Tallahassee Firefighter
    (A DIRECT RELATIVE OF A FORMER ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER CHIEFLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MILLION AND A HALF PLUS DOLLAR LAWSUIT) on duty, started telling other firefighters and officers that if anyone loosed their benefits as a result of the PLAINTIFF that there would be an attempt by fire personnel to “KILL” the PLAINTIFF. This testimony was given
    at deposition on Monday, 18 April, 2016 in
    Tallahassee.

  13. Mark Reply

    April 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    CITY VIOLATED STATE AND FEDERAL LAW:
    Due to time constraints the Federal Jury only saw a fraction of the documents against the City. It should be noted that the Tallahassee Police Department utilizing about 21 Leon County, State of Florida and Federal data base systems to attempt to find DIRT on the PLAINTIFF…..and his 88 YEAR OLD PARENTS. The Criminal Intelligence Report stated the only “PREDICATE” for this dirt expedition at LEON COUNTY and CITY tax payer’s expense was that the plaintiff had refused to attend a meeting. Documents not used but available to Tallahassee Report show the report findings were also deliberately falsified! It should also be noted that Senior City of Tallahassee Officials also involved Leon County Sheriff’s Office at TAX PAYER EXPENSE. It should be noted that most law enforcement officers do an outstanding and professional job….unfortunately OUT OF CONTROL MANAGEMENT, POLITICIANS and some officers sucking-up to them will violate professional ethics and laws to their own end at the expense of the professional men and women in law enforcement.

  14. Mark Reply

    April 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    JUST SOME CITY GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS ALTERED, FALSIFIED, or DESTROYED:

    -Pay record.
    -City Commission Staff time sheet.
    -Police Criminal Intelligence Report.
    -City (Century Link) government phone records.
    -Fire Department contract cell phone records.
    -Defense Attorney Summary Judgment argument.
    -One Million Dollar apartment fire.
    -City Commission Aide sworn Federal Affidavits.
    -Police officer report.
    -Fire Department Internal Investigation Formal
    Report.
    -Fire Department fire hose and equipment damage or
    missing Audit Report 16 August, 2013. Only about
    20-30 pages of the actual 700+ page report was
    published for the public and Commission. The
    plaintiff has possession of the entire report.
    -Written duplicate false statements by Chief Dick’s staff.

  15. Mark Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    182 FEDERAL LAWSUITS LISTING CITY AS A DEFENDANT:

    Federal Court Records (Tallahassee) as of 1 April, 2016 show the City of Tallahassee as a DEFENDANT in a total of 182 FEDERAL LAWSUITS as follows:

    – One listing 150 FEDERAL LAWSUITS (13 pages).
    – One listing 17 FEDERAL LAWSUITS ( 2 pages).
    – One listing 15 FEDERAL LAWSUITS ( 2 pages).

    – These are ALL different lawsuits from 1993 to
    15 February, 2016.
    – Most of these FEDERAL LAWSUITS with the City of
    Tallahassee (as a DEFENDANT) took place in
    recent years!
    – The City of Tallahassee is self insured for
    MILLIONS OF DOLLARS which should be referred to
    as a BLACK OPS FUND with no accountability to the
    TAX PAYERS of Leon County and the City.
    – Why mention the Leon County tax payers? They
    also pay a fire service fee. How much of that is
    being diverted in an accounting “black hole” to
    pay for gross misconduct and negligence by the
    City?
    – A committee of local accountants, business
    leaders and civilians should be formed to oversee
    where this BLACK OPS FUND is coming from and
    where it is going to. Accountants should work as
    a group to publish a yearly report on the City
    and County budgets.
    – The reason City and County citizens never hear
    about almost all of these lawsuits is that the
    plaintiff’s often get paid-off quietly and sign
    a non-disclosure agreement. The Plaintiff
    in Mark DeCarlo Vs City of Tallahassee would not!
    – The documents listing the 182 FEDERAL LAWSUITS
    are being made available to Tallahassee Reports/
    Steve Stewart,Preston Scott, Will Dance and Greg
    (aka Junior)since they are the only media groups
    that report the facts locally. The Tallahassee
    Democrat’s reporters should put on short skirts
    and pom-poms and go dance in front of City Hall
    as their cheerleading squad…..

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