NASCAR is being sued for alleged racial discrimination, according to a complaint filed on Monday.

Terrance Cox III, the CEO of Diversity Motorsports, claims that NASCAR refused to work with him and tried to prevent him from increasing the number of African Americans in the sport.

Cox is seeking $500 million in damages for racial discrimination in a complaint filed Monday.

The complaint also said NASCAR prevented African American comedian Steve Harvey from creating a racing team with Diversity Motorsports. Harvey allegedly wanted to start a team called “Steve Harvey Races 4 Education” in September 2015, but NASCAR wouldn’t sanction it.

Harvey denied that during his radio show on Tuesday. He said Cox approached him about helping to expose underprivileged kids to NASCAR, and he was willing to participate. But, he said he wanted nothing to do with the suit and told Cox not to use his name.

The suit named 19 other defendants including Richard Petty Motorsports, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Cox claims he’s been working to increase the number of African American drivers and racing teams since 2009. He founded Diversity Motorsports to promote that effort.

NASCAR has three national racing series — the Sprint Cup Series, the XFINITY Series and the Camping World Truck Series. The Sprint Cup Series is considered the most prestigious and “viewed as the major league level,” according to NASCAR.

There aren’t any African American drivers in the Sprint Cup Series and there’s only one in the XFINITY Series. No African-American driver has ever participated in the Daytona 500 and only three African American drivers have ever raced in top-tier events.

NASCAR said in a statement that Cox’s suit is an attempt to gain publicity, and that it would pursue action against Cox for defamation.

Racial discrimination can rear its ugly head in many ways. In some cases, employers may fail to hire or promote a person because of the color of their skin. In other scenarios, the discrimination involves unequal compensation and work conditions. Racial discrimination may also be shown by unfair or unequal rules enforced by supervisors, verbal harassment by supervisors or co-workers, or even wrongful termination.

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One of St. Petersburg’s highest ranking sewage operators has filed for federal whistleblower protection, claiming the city was warned that closing a water treatment facility would result in sewage being dumped into Tampa-area waterways.

Since August 2015, St. Petersburg has dumped more than 190 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay and other local waterways. The sewage operator says city officials were warned this could happen when they shut down the Albert Whitted water treatment facility.

The man has sent a letter informing the mayor and City Council that he has filed for federal whistleblower protection, citing public safety.

In the document, he says he is “exercising my rights” under the whistleblower act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act “prohibiting retaliation against any employee who reports alleged violation relating to discharge of pollutants into water.”

The whistleblower letter claims a 2014 study showed St. Petersburg’s southwest water treatment plant “could not handle the flow due to high weather events” if Albert Whitted were to close.

Despite the concerns, the man claims the city closed the plant anyway without making the recommended upgrades to the southwest site.  

Moving forward, the man recommends the city reopen the Albert Whitted facility until the necessary upgrades are complete.

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The final report on Hurricane Hermine is in. Heavy rainfall caused more flooding and strong winds brought down trees and powerlines.

Here are the final numbers:

Storm Surge

Cedar Key 7.5 feet

Clearwater Beach 4.41 feet

McKay Bay (Tampa Bay) 4.09 feet

St. Petersburg 3.58 feet

Port Manatee 3.21 feet

Peak Wind Gusts

Indian Shores 78 mph

Treasure Island 71 mph

St. Petersburg 63 mph

Clearwater Beach 62 mph

Cedar Key 60 mph

MacDill 55 mph

Cedar Key 54 mph

Sarasota/Bradenton 54 mph

Crystal River 53 mph

Brooksville 53 mph

Anna Maria 52 mph

Tampa 46 mph

St. Pete/Clearwater 47 mph

Lakeland 42 mph

Winter Haven 41 mph

Plant City 40 mph

Inverness 35 mph

Rainfall

Baskin (Pinellas) 22.36

Largo (Pinellas) 16.11

Gulfport (Pinellas) 14.30

Dunedin (Pinellas) 12.93

Lake Worrell (Pasco) 11.04

Seminole (Pinellas) 10.87

Belleaire (Pinellas) 10.58

Holiday (Pasco) 10.22

Clearwater (Pinellas) 10.03

Palmetto (Manatee) 9.82

Longboat Key (Manatee) 9.61

Ellenton (Manatee) 9.46

Sarasota/Bradenton (Manatee) 9.38

Port Richey (Pasco) 9.24

Tampa (Hillsborough) 6.83

Valrico (Hillsborough) 6.77

Sun City Center (Hillsborough) 6.55

Wesley Chapel (Pasco) 6.55

If your home was damaged by Hermine:

  • Get in touch with your insurance provider ASAP
  • Take any possible steps you can to protect your home from further storm damage
  • Document all damage with photos or video
  • Compose an inventory list of all damages
  • Take down notes on any information your insurance company gives you
  • Save all receipts for expenses related to the damage and/or repairs
  • Make copies of all documents sent to you by your insurance company

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Nearly 10,000 workers are suing Chipotle for allegedly not paying them the money they are owed.

Current and former Chipotle employees claim that the company made them work extra hours “off the clock” without paying them. This is called wage theft, and Chipotle is accused of doing this all over the United States.

“Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave,” according to the class action lawsuit known as Turner v. Chipotle. It’s named after a former Chipotle manager in Colorado who claims she had to work without pay and was told to make workers under her do the same in order to meet budget goals.

Chipotle denies any wrongdoing and says the case has no merit. The company said it has paid all wages it owes employees.

Chipotle has faced similar lawsuits previously, but this is the first time there has been such a large class action case against the company for wage theft. As of Friday, 9,961 current and former workers have sent in consent forms to join the lawsuit.

Chipotle is expected to continue fighting the case.

Employers expect employees to do their assigned tasks, plain and simple. Employees expect to be paid their agreed upon wage for all hours worked, equally as simple. However, sometimes employers fail to live up to their end of the obligation. When employers fail to pay workers the full and fair wages they are entitled to receive, employees can take legal action, as this case shows.

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Florida residents know the risks of property damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricanes and storms can leave behind devastating damages, and the reality is that filing insurance claims to cover repairs and destruction can be a long battle. Fortunately, our Alachua County Hurricane & Storm Damage Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are experienced at handling these types of claims and know how to deal with denied or underpaid claims.

Insurance companies make money by denying, delaying or underpaying claims. Going head to head with your insurance company can be stressful and unnecessary, which is where we come in. With us on your side, we can level the playing field and work to secure the coverage due under the terms of your policy. We believe that you should be properly compensated for your losses.

Even though your insurance company was happy to talk to you when you purchased your insurance policy, that might not be the case when it comes to paying on that policy in the wake of a severe storm or hurricane. The insurance companies are out to secure their bottom line, and they have no genuine interest in treating you fairly. If you have tried reasoning with your insurance company to no avail, please let us help you. They could change their tune once they know you have legal representation.  

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In most cases, it won’t make a difference whether your home or business was damaged in a tropical storm or a hurricane. The damage can be the same regardless of if it was caused by a hurricane or tropical storm.

Even though a hurricane can produce heavier rains and more intense wind and flooding, a property can still be damaged in a tropical storm, including wind, rain, mud, mold and debris. In fact, many insurance policies categorize windstorm coverage and flooding under the same cause of damage. However, every insurance policy is different, so it is imperative to review your policy and make sure you have appropriate coverage.

A hurricane and a tropical storm are both types of  tropical cyclones that spur thunderstorms and high winds. The only difference is in the intensity. A hurricane is the most powerful type of tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. What is important to highlight is that some damages caused by hurricanes is not always covered by a traditional homeowners’ insurance policy. Living in Florida, it is essential to understand how important insurance is when a hurricane or tropical storm barges through. While you should be covered by your insurance in the event of a tropical storm or a hurricane, sometimes insurance companies withhold payments or severely underpay for what is owed.

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When you purchase property insurance, you expect your insurance company to pay fairly on any claims dealing with storms and hurricanes, right? Sadly, this is not always the case.

At Whittel & Melton, our New Port Richey Hurricane & Storm Damage Claims Attorneys work to protect you after a devastating storm. We can help you hold your insurance company to its obligations to pay damages according to the terms of your insurance policy after violent winds and rain wreak havoc on your home or business.

You may have already had your claim denied and don’t know why. You may have tried to contact your insurance company and your adjuster won’t talk to you. The truth is, this is not uncommon. While your insurer may not talk to you now, with us fighting in your corner, you may find that they are now willing to discuss your claim.

If your insurance company has denied your claim or is significantly undervaluing your claim, we can help. Specifically, we can help with the following:

  • Bad faith insurance claims. When insurance companies refuse to pay on claims or will not pay the full amount regardless of policy provisions that obligate them to do so, the insurer is acting in bad faith. We will not hesitate to take insurance companies to court so that they live up to their contractual commitments.
  • Homeowner & business insurance claims. People buy property insurance for a reason. When floods, winds, fires, and other disasters damage a property that is covered under a valid insurance policy, you have the right to be compensated.
  • Hurricane & storm damage claims. Florida is prone to hurricanes, so we happily assist those who have experienced property damage from a hurricane or tropical storm recover what they are owed according to their insurance policies.

When insurers illegally take advantage of their policyholders by denying or undervaluing claims, we step in and make sure your rights are protected.

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Residents of Cedar Key, Bronson, Chiefland, Williston, Inglis and Yankeetown may receive services from their insurance company that could qualify for an insurance bad faith claim. Policyholders should keep in mind that Florida law provides that victims of bad faith conduct could be entitled to punitive damages in addition to any other compensation due to them through their policy.

Below are a few examples of bad faith practices used by the insurance company after you file a hurricane or storm damage claim:

Failure to investigate a claim.

Insurance companies that do not conduct a proper investigation or preemptively decide they will deny a claim, are acting in bad faith. Insurance companies have a duty to fully investigate a claim as outlined in their policy. Why would an insurance company avoid investigating a claim? There are many reasons, actually, including:

  • They don’t think policyholders are aware of Florida laws surrounding the claims process.
  • They think the investigation will end with them paying more than they would like to the policyholder.
  • They are trying to cut costs by avoiding the investigation altogether.

Refusing to reimburse you for all of your losses.

Insurance companies must provide what they promise as outlined in their policies. Many policyholders are unaware of what they are rightfully owed and will accept lowball payouts because they do not realize they can re-file a claim or appeal an offered settlement.

Illegal denial of a claim that should have been paid.

Some insurance companies hope their policyholders do not know their rights. They rely on the fact that most will not file an appeal or complaint.

Extended delay in making payments to the policyholder.

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There has been an evacuation order for the coastal communities of Dixie County, including Horseshoe Beach, Suwanee and Jena due to Tropical Storm Hermine. All county schools and offices are closed until Tuesday morning.

Residents in Florida and throughout Dixie County are encouraged by Emergency Services to remove any loose lawn items, such as lawn furniture, grills, lumber, campers and anything that could be moved by the storm surge. However, despite proper precautions, Dixie County property owners could experience severe damage to their homes or businesses, including:

  • Hail damage
  • Roof and siding damage
  • Flooded homes
  • Flooded and washed out streets
  • Wind damage
  • Other storm-related damage, such as sinkholes

If the storm stays on its current path, Dixie County is anticipated to receive possible 58 mph winds by Thursday night. A storm surge of 6-8 feet is predicted during the storm.

For those who have evacuated the area, many will came back to find their homes submerged and damaged. If you suffer property damage in the storm, you should talk with a Dixie County Hurricane & Storm Damage Claims Attorney at Whittel & Melton before accepting any type of  insurance settlement.

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Hurricanes and storm damage in Florida can be quite destructive. Most home and business owners throughout the state are aware that these forces of nature could bring catastrophic damage, which is why they take the precaution of purchasing property insurance to cover any potential damage.

Even though it may be seem obvious to policyholders that their building or property was damaged from a hurricane or tropical storm, insurance adjusters may try to argue that fact. That is why it is important to understand the steps you can take to help make sure your claim get approved smoothly:

  • Document your damages. Take before photos and then after photos of anything damaged to show to the adjuster. Include close-up photos that detail the damage. This can be very important when it comes to dents in roofs and siding.
  • Keep your receipts for your home furnishings, business supplies, equipment and inventory. Try and locate your receipts that may have gotten wet or damaged during the storm and dry them out. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to keep an electronic inventory log for these very purposes. Be aware that insurance adjusters are professionals at undervaluing the cost of your damaged goods – it is their job to lowball.
  • Never assume that your home or property survived a storm without damage just based on looks. Some messes just clean up well. Hire a professional, certified inspector. High winds, hail damage, etc. can sometimes take a year or more to show up in the form of a slow water leak, electrical problems and even structural loss.
  • File your claim as soon as possible after hurricane or storm damage. If you delay, that just gives the insurance company more fuel to justify denying, delaying or undervaluing claims.

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