The 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s tossing of a suit by a Palm Tran passenger saying he fell when the bus driver slammed on his brakes.
Altimon Palmer, in a suit filed Nov. 3, 2014, alleged that on the day before Christmas in 2013, he was boarding Palm Tran bus 716, heading down Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach, when the driver braked hard and Palmer fell.
In a memo Thursday to county commissioners, County Attorney Denise Nieman said county lawyers argued the Palm Tran bus was cut off and “there could be no negligence on the part of the bus driver under those circumstances.” She said lawyers for Palmer “argued that the issue of negligence should be left to a jury.”
On March 9, 2016, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo granted the county’s motion to dismiss, saying “there are no genuine issues of fact.” Palmer’s lawyers appealed, and on Wednesday, the appeals court upheld the dismissal without comment, according to documents.
Attorney Nicholas Russo, whose West Palm Beach firm represented Palmer, in both the original case and the appeal, said Friday he’ll formally ask the appeals court for a rehearing.
“We think the case law out there is pretty clear that the ruling by the trial court should have been overruled,” Russo said.
Palm Beach County should not appeal to the Florida Supreme Court its setback in its Inspector General lawsuit with area cities, County Attorney Denise Nieman told county commissioners Wednesday night.
“Just because an appeal will not be filed does not mean that this matter is closed,” Nieman said in the email. “Staff will be meeting in the near future to discuss a number of possibilities available for your consideration.”
In November 2010, voters approved creating the Office of Inspector General and requiring cities help pay for it. Fifteen cities sued, arguing the county could not force them to pay. The county won the first legal battle. But the cities appealed, and on Dec. 21, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled for the cities.
Nieman said she worried that, in an appeal, the Supreme Court could hand down “an unfavorable ruling that could have a negative statewide impact.” She said the county’s efforts “are better spent reviewing all options available to us in light of the (appellate) Court’s opinion, including, but not limited to, service contracts with the municipalities.”
A Palm Beach County Commission package of improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, which failed Tuesday in a 3-3 tie, won’t come back to the commission, at least not right away, County Attorney Denise Nieman has told commissioners.
Because the commission was voting on a collective bargaining agreement, it can’t just bring the issue back at its next meeting, Nieman said Friday in an email. Instead, she said, state law requires that the issue go back to County Administrator Verdenia Baker for a new round of bargaining.
“To be clear, this item is not to be resurrected by a Commissioner at the next or any future meeting,” Nieman wrote. “Instead, it’s back to the negotiating table it goes.”
Longtime Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Marie Nieman has made it official, turning in her paperwork to start the 5-year process toward retirement.
It actually was County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay who spilled the beans at Tuesday’s commission meeting that Nieman this week had signed the documents starting the clock. She praised Nieman for her three decades with the county.
Nieman confirmed afterward that, while she can leave before that, she’s now committed to that 5-year deadline under the county’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP).
County Attorney Denise Nieman told commissioners Wednesday in an email she’d hoped to have something by the end of August, but that “every time I think we’re ready to issue an opinion on the legality of adopting an ordinance banning conversion therapy, something else is brought to our attention that results in further review and research, which typically raises even more issues for our consideration.”
Advocates of “conversion therapy,” some of whom say the term is misleading and unfair, argue it’s a legitimate way to help people, usually teenagers, rid themselves of “unwanted same-sex attractions.” Rights groups say it’s forced brainwashing that doesn’t work and harms people who didn’t seek conversion.
Plaintiffs may proceed to trial with a suit over whether public meetings laws are usurped when the Palm Beach County Commission gives citizens a total of three minutes to comment on a laundry list of agenda items, a Palm Beach County judge ruled Friday.
Circuit Judge Lisa Small refused a county motion to toss the suit filed Feb. 17 by Alex Larson and Fane Lozman, two regulars at county commission meetings, who demanded the county either stop using a “consent agenda” or not limit speakers during that discussion. They say it violates Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law.
Members of the public get three minutes to comment on a single regular agenda item. But they get three minutes total to comment on the “consent agenda,” a collection of items, mostly housekeeping in nature, that commissioners dispose of with a single vote, unless a commissioner pulls an item for further discussion.
“We’re going to win,” Larson, whose birthday was Friday, said after the hearing. County Attorney Denise Nieman, who did not argue the case but attended, said she was disappointed, “but we understand and we respect the judge’s order and we’ll move forward.”
Let the state decide where people can smoke e-cigarettes, Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman has told county commissioners.
In a memo sent Thursday, Nieman said the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, created before e-cigarettes, bans only lighted tobacco products, which the e-cigs are not.
Several South Florida entities, including the cities of Delray Beach and Boca Raton, have specifically outlawed the devices in places where the Act forbids tobacco smoking, but “the reach of each (ban) varies,” Nieman wrote.
If the commission moved to ban e-cigarettes in all indoor workplaces in Palm Beach County, both private and public, it would be difficult to enforce, and authorities also would have to decide on penalties, she said.
Nieman wrote commissioners late Thursday to say she’d planned to bring both to next Tuesday’s commission meeting for debate and possible action.
But, she said, on the comment part, “as I attempted to wordsmith an amendment to ensure that the (commission’s) desire for public participation and efficient and effective meetings were both addressed, it became obvious that there are too many scenarios that may be difficult to reconcile with absolutes defining Workshop days. For example, there may be a time when a motion during a Workshop is desirable, at which point public participation may be legally required.”
She added, “my recommendation is to leave the Rules as they are as it pertains to public comment.”
Nieman said the commission can drop the night meetings with a simple vote Tuesday; and “should this or future Boards want to resume evening meetings, a motion is all it would take to make it happen.”