Peelen retains city-appointed counsel in lawsuit

Attorney Jay Daigneault of Dunedin said he is still the attorney for Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen as the defendant in a civil suit brought against her by John Agnelli.

Daigneault was retained by the Florida League of Cities to defend Peelen under the city’s liability policy with the FLC.

Agnelli’s attorney, Peter Mackey, presented his client’s case against Peelen as an individual, not as an elected official. Circuit Court Judge Diana Moreland ruled in favor of Mackey, which was affirmed in an appeal by Daigneault to Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Mackey’s office then raised the issue of who would pay for Peelen’s personal legal fees.

The suit was brought against Peelen by Agnelli after the commissioner sent emails to constituents in 2012 contained alleged damaging statements about Agnelli.

Peelen admitted to making false statements about John Agnelli, saying she intended to name John’s son, Frank Agnelli. She apologized for her error, but Agnelli maintains the damaging comments about him will remain on the internet in perpetuity and, further, that the comments, while intended for Frank Agnelli, are baseless.

A spokesperson for the FLC said the question of who pays for Peelen’s legal fees has not been discussed with the FLC’s insuror. At the present time, the FLC is paying Daigeault under the city’s insurance, the spokesperson said.

Efforts to reach the FLC legal counsel in Tallahassee have been unsuccessful to date.

Daigeault said he is still the attorney of record, but declined to discuss payment issues with regard to the city of Holmes Beach and Peelen.

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