Legal costs climbing in Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach is engaged in several lawsuits at various stages of resolution.

As of Feb. 15, fees incurred for four lawsuits — one initiated in 2016 and three in 2017 — had reached $121,491.39.

A case filed in August 2017 against the city and developer Shawn Kaleta by Manatee County for a proposed residential pool that would cover a sewer line is moving closer to a resolution.

At a Feb. 15 city commission meeting, city attorney Ricinda Perry said that according to Mark Barnebey, the the city’s attorney for the suit, “a settlement is still looking positive, but nothing has been reached at this point.”

As of Feb. 15, the city had spent $33,663.78 on the suit.

Also, Mayor John Chappie reported Feb. 15 the city had spent $52,310.25 in attorney’s fees for a lawsuit — initiated by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and joined by the city — against several now-former board members who allegedly violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws.

The suit against the board members also was filed in August 2017.

According to Perry, the suit is still in discovery. She said the city recently received an extensive, overly broad records request from defendant John Metz’s attorney, Thomas Shults of Kirk Pinkerton P.A. of Sarasota, requesting 22 separate records. She said compiling the records would entail 119 hours of work for $19,991.80.

Perry said the records request — which should have gone to the city’s paralegal for the suit, Michael Barfield, not the city clerk — spanned seven years and included a request for any documents — emails, agendas or packets — in which Perry referenced the P&Z board duties. She said when Barfield asked Shults for clarification, Shults responded that the city had five days to produce the records.

A Feb. 12 letter from Robert Watrous, representing Clarke and the city for the suit, requested a deposit of 50 percent before the city would execute the request.

        It is unclear from the invoices from Watrous to the city whether Clarke also is responsible for payment to Watrous. Representatives from the city and Watrous refused comment on the matter Feb. 23 due to client attorney privilege.

There was no response from Shults as of press time.

Perry anticipates a trial date in late fall.

Additionally, Chappie reported the city had spent $26,274.81 on a permitting and zoning appeal also filed by Metz, initiated in 2016. His appeal of a July 2017 special master ruling is pending in the circuit court.

The city also spent $9,242.55 on legal expenses for three charter amendments placed on the ballot by a defunct political group  — Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach — that were approved Nov. 7 by the electorate.

One thought on “Legal costs climbing in Bradenton Beach

  1. Reed Mapes

    The city spent $9,242.55 on legal expenses for three charter amendments placed on the ballot. Had the city followed the directions of the State Statue 166.031 (CNOBB submitted the initiatives under the state law) i.e. that they had to put the initiatives on the ballot, they would not have had to spend a dime. One day the city council will learn that they work for the people not for themselves. Their city attorney is coasting us all a lot of tax money. Instead of communication with the citizens of this city, they prefer to have legal problems.


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