The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is warning people of online extortion crimes on the rise in the area, also known as “sextortion. “

Let’s say you meet someone online and develop a relationship. As things progress, the person may ask for nude images from you. Once they receive those photos or videos, the person will threaten to send the video or images to all their family and friends on social media unless they get money.

Pasco County’s biggest concern is that a lot of these cases involve people operating outside of the country, which makes it hard for local law enforcement to deal with.

It is also important to point out that once a photo is released to the Internet, it is virtually impossible to get it off. The best way to avoid this scam is to never send nude or explicit photos to anyone.

Deputies say anyone who has experienced this should call their TIPS line to report it at 1-800-706-2488.

Our Florida Sextortion Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are all too familiar with sextortion and dating blackmail cases. What may seem completely innocent can turn dark pretty quickly in these online dating scams. If you think you are alone, you are not. Many victims are too embarrassed to step forward and ask for help. We urge you to not give in to any threats being made against you, and let us help you fight back. We know the sensitive nature of these cases, which is why we will handle it discreetly. In many cases, just a letter or phone call from us can make the dreadful situation go away.

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A widow is suing Home Depot and a tenant, alleging negligence in the food poisoning death of her husband.

The woman filed a complaint June 27 in Pinellas Circuit Court against TIWI Group Inc. and Home Depot USA Inc., alleging they failed to follow applicable safety guidelines and regulations.

According to the complaint, the 74-year-old man was a part-time employee of a Home Depot in Clearwater. The suit says on July 4, 2017, he purchased a hot dog and coleslaw from the TIWI Group. The lawsuit says he became violently ill from food poisoning and died July 8, 2017, at Florida Hospital North Pinellas.

The woman says she has sustained the loss of her husband’s support, services, companionship, protection, mental pain and suffering, and incurred medical and funeral expenses. She blames the defendants in the selling and allowing the selling of contaminated food that resulted in food poisoning.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants failed to discover that the food consumed by the man was not fit for consumption, failed to warn customers of any potential dangers that existed in the food they sell and failed to ensure that food being sold was wholesome and fit to be consumed.

Food poisoning affects about 48 million Americans every year throughout the United States. Food poisoning can range in severity, causing everything from a mild upset stomach, a permanent disease such as hepatitis, and even wrongful death. When food poisoning can be traced back to a particular product or distributor, that responsible party can be held liable for causing the disease.

Food poisoning is entirely preventable and subsequent physical, mental, or financial harm can be incurred as a direct result of this illness. The negligent responsible party should be held liable for any losses. Our Pinellas County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can assist you in obtaining the full value of your losses.

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This week we learned the Broward Sheriffs Deputies assigned to guard the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, 2017 when a shooting occured that killed five people and injured another six, were not actually at their assigned posts. Instead, they were in a nearby office full of balloons and cake for a retirement party.

A Virginia Beach woman, who lost her husband in this shooting, is suing BSO, Delta Airlines and the security firms charged with protecting the airport.

The lawsuit asserts that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, as her husband’s body still lay on the floor of the airport, she was hustled into that party room. She waited there for hours, she said, as law enforcement investigated the scene.

In the chaos after the shooting, she and another spouse of a shooting victim were shuttled from room to room inside the airport while police swarmed outside. One of those offices was festooned with balloons and a cake. The shooter pleaded guilty to the killings in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He faces five life sentences at his Aug. 17 sentencing hearing.

That was the room where BSO deputies were celebrating a fellow detective’s retirement instead of guarding baggage claim when the shooting took place, the lawsuit alleges.

Airports, just like all other businesses, have a duty to maintain a safe environment. They have a duty to protect their customers/guests from any foreseeable crime or criminal activity, which means having security officers and security cameras.

Negligent security lawsuits matter because they hold the wrongdoer accountable for their actions. Whoever was in control or had the opportunity to use control of the property would be liable in a negligent security case. This could be the person or business that owns the property. In this case, the airline and the security company are being sued as being the responsible entities.

In order to successguly prove negligence, it depedns on what the crime was and if it could have been prevented. If it could have been prevented, it is relevant to establish whether the business or entity did anything in an attempt to do so. If the property owner knew of the danger and did nothing to protect people, then a claim for damages can be filed for personal injury or wrongful death.

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An investigation from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found that the derailment of a Daytona Beach roller coaster in June that injured six people was caused by excessive speed and operator error.

The investigation said operator error was the reason the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster derailed June 14, causing a cart full of people to dangle above the ground. Of the 10 people on the ride, six had to be hospitalized.

During a post-accident inspection, engineers found evidence of previous derailments on the nearly 40-year-old coaster, including one that appeared to have taken place after it was refurbished in 2013, officials said in a preliminary report.

Had that derailment been addressed before the June accident, investigators said, the crash likely wouldn’t have happened. No other derailments had been reported to state officials before the June incident.

The coaster, which is on Ocean Avenue near the Daytona Beach Pier, has been out of operation since the accident and will remain out of operation indefinitely, officials said.

Roller coaster accidents can result in minor to severe injuries, and in some cases, death. Victims of roller coaster injuries in Daytona Beach and elsewhere throughout the state of Florida can rely on the experienced Roller Coaster Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton to provide legal representation in seeking compensation for their losses. We know how devastating these accidents can be, which is why we will fight for maximum compensation for roller coaster injuries.

Ride operators are hired to run roller coasters safely. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that each passenger is seated and secured properly in the ride, and that the ride starts and stops as it is intended. Even the slightest error on the operator’s part can lead to a serious roller coaster accident.

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A three-year-old girl died on July 1 in a bouncy castle incident in Norfolk, U.K.
She was bouncing on the inflatable equipment — a bouncy castle with a trampoline — when the trampoline exploded launching her “30 feet” in the air and causing her to land on the sand.

This tragedy comes just two months after two fairground workers were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence for failing to properly secure a bouncy castle in Norwich, which killed a seven-year-old child.

 

According to the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP), there has been a vast increase in bounce house-related injuries in the last 20 years. Between 1990 and 2010, over 30 percent required medical follow up after initial treatment in the emergency department. The most common injuries were fractures and sprains.

In the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for inflatable bounce house-related injuries between the years 1990 and 2010. From 2008 – 2010, the number of injuries more than doubled to an average of 31 injured children per day. More than a third of the children injured were under the age of six.

Our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want your kids to remain safe at birthday parties, fairs, carnivals, festivals and all other celebrations. The following safety measures should be taken into consideration when your child is playing inflatable structures:

  • Always supervise children in a bounce house. ALWAYS!
  • Remove shoes, jewelry, and any hard or sharp objects from children’s pockets.
    Group children together according to size to help reduce risk of injury from collision.
    Do not allow children to perform stunts like flips or somersaults.
    Make sure children stay away from the exit points when bouncing inside.
  • If the bounce house starts to deflate, exit promptly.
  • If there are high winds, do not use the bounce house.

Bounce houses and other inflatables fall under premises liability, a legal concept that applies to situations where there is an unsafe or defective object on someone’s property. In order to establish liability in a bounce house injury, you must prove that the property owner was negligent and failed to provide reasonable care.

The main defense against bounce house claims is that they come with an assumption of risk. This basically means that while you may know that bounce houses are potentially dangerous, you still allowed your child to play in one anyway.

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An Orlando couple is suing Wal-Mart, alleging loss of consortium and negligence in the injury of the wife.

The pair filed a complaint June 20 in Orange County Circuit Court against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging failure to maintain its premises in a safe condition.

According to the complaint, on June 21, 2014, the woman was shopping at the Wal-Mart when an unsecured sharp corner edge metal tray at the coffee station fell and landed on her left foot, causing her to suffer injuries, impairment, disability, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

The lawsuit alleges her husband and co-plaintiff suffered the loss of his wife’s services, companionship and consortium.

The couple alleges Wal-Mart Stores failed to provide a safe environment for shoppers, failed to warn the wife of the dangerous condition, and failed to timely repair the condition of its coffee station.

Loss of consortium pertains to the emotional, financial, and physical losses that spouses or family members experience after a negligence injury. It covers both death and personal injuries that may leave the victim without the sexual intimacy, emotional or financial support, or companionship that they had previously, and might still have, had it not been for the negligence of the at-fault party.

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The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has opened an investigation into why a roller coaster derailed at an amusement park Thursday night in Daytona Beach.

The accident on the Sand Blaster ride at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk sent two riders plunging 34 feet to the ground and left two others dangling in one of the ride’s cars, according to the Daytona Beach Fire Department.

Four riders, all of whom were on the same car, and two others were rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach. A hospital official said information about their condition might be released sometime Friday.

Later Friday, the hospital said it “received nine patients.”

The Sand Blaster has been operating at Daytona Beach since 2013 after the 40-year-old ride was bought from a closed amusement park in Delaware a year earlier.

Thrill seekers and adventurists flock to roller coasters for an adrenaline rush. However, a roller coaster is one of the most dangerous rides at amusement parks. Each year there are an estimated 9,000 emergency room visits that stem from amusement park and roller coaster injuries.

While amusement park rides undergo extensive testing and regular inspections to ensure that they are safe, accidents can still happen, and when they do they can result in serious personal injury or wrongful death.

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A Dunedin woman alleges she was injured when an unmarked curb at Costco caused her to trip and fall.

The woman filed a complaint on April 10 in the 6th Judicial Circuit Court of Pinellas County against Costco Wholesale Corp. alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that on Sept. 5, 2017, while she exited the Costco store at the Clearwater Mall, she tripped on an unmarked curb, fell and was injured.

She holds Costco Wholesale Corp. responsible because the store allegedly failed to mark the change in elevation of the curb, failed to give warning of any latent or unrevealed dangers upon exiting the store, and failed to properly inspect and maintain premises.

Property owners in Florida have a duty to keep their property reasonably free from dangerous conditions that could potentially harm visitors. If such a hazard does exist, the property owner has a duty to warn visitors of the dangers until they can be properly repaired. Premises liability claims arise when property owners fail to acknowledge this duty and someone gets hurt on the property as a result.

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The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Ocala Division, recently found that the city of Ocala and Police Chief Kenneth Gregory Graham violated the First Amendment by sponsoring or endorsing a prayer vigil.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan wrote the May 24 order granting summary judgment to a group of atheists who claimed Graham and the city of Ocala violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that a prayer vigil in 2014 held in the wake of a crime spree that left several children injured violated the Establishment Clause that prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another.

The plaintiffs claimed they wanted to be a part of the community effort to help stop crime but felt unwelcome or uncomfortable because of the religious nature of the event they likened to a “Christian tent revival.” The plaintiffs claim that during the vigil, several people led prayers or sang, but no one mentioned any efforts to stop the crime spree.

The order granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs in their claims against Chief Graham and the city and granted summary judgment to Mayor Guinn. The plaintiffs were denied punitive damages and awarded nominal damages from the chief and the city, as well as attorney’s fees and costs to be heard by a magistrate judge.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” U.S. Const. amend. I.

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Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a crash that killed a motorcycle rider on Florida’s Turnpike Sunday afternoon.

Troopers were notified of the crash around 4pm that happened on the turnpike southbound exit ramp to Sunrise Boulevard.

Arriving troopers found a 2007 Harley Davidson in a retention pond on the southwest shoulder of the ramp.

The 64-year-old motorcycle rider was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other information regarding the crash is available.

Motorcycle accidents usually result in very serious personal injuries or wrongful death. After a motorcycle accident, it is extremely important to be aware of your rights to recover for injuries or wrongful death including, but not limited to, past and future medical bills, loss of wages, hospital expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, funeral costs and other damages.

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