How Three Hollywood Superstars Are Managing Their 2023 Divorces

When Hollywood couples divorce, they have to deal with both the public portrayal of their split and the legal implications of their breakup.

Let’s look at what considerations are most important during a divorce and the three stars dealing with breakups in the legal system and the public eye.

Breaking Down The Divorce Process

When a couple divorces, whether famous or not, they have to deal with the same considerations as everyone else. Hollywood couples may have higher stakes when it comes to the financial implications of their divorce, but they have to go through the same legal process.

  1. One or both parties file a petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. If it is a contested divorce, the other party must file an answer within 20 days.
  3. If there is a prenuptial agreement, the document outlines many of the details of the divorce.
  4. Both parties may be required to fill out additional paperwork and affidavits related to details of the divorce.
  5. Both parties may work together through mediation to come to an agreement.
  6. If no agreement is made, a trial may take place.
  7. A final judgment is made, and the divorce is finalized.

Depending on the complexity of the divorce, the process can happen quickly or take years to finalize as the couple works through the details of the divorce.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida

The Top Divorce Considerations

During a divorce, a couple has to work through a variety of details related to how they will split up their finances and property, manage their children, and move forward as separate entities.

The details that must be defined during a divorce include: 

  • Assets and Liabilities: The couple must audit their assets and liabilities and determine who is responsible and has ownership over major items.
  • Child Custody: If a couple has children under the age of 18, they must set guidelines for child custody and who has legal and physical custody.
  • Child Support: When children are involved, details of the divorce may also include the amount of money that one spouse must pay another to take care of the children.
  • Spousal Support: If one spouse has a larger income than the other, they may be required to pay monthly spousal support.
  • Prenuptial Agreements: If a prenuptial agreement was signed before the marriage, it may dictate the details of asset and liability division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Related: How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

How Three Celebrities Are Managing Their 2023 Divorce

In 2023, three Hollywood stars began the divorce process. Let’s look at how they are navigating the details of their divorce.

Reese Witherspoon

In March 2023, Reese Witherspoon filed for divorce from husband Jim Toth, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple had been married for 12 years, and they share a 10-year-old son, Tennessee. The details of Witherspoon and Toth’s divorce likely won’t need to be heavily litigated as the couple signed a prenuptial agreement in March 2011. According to Page Six, the prenuptial agreement is valid and will provide “adequate and sufficient provisions” for their assets and debts.

Per the rules of Davidson County, Tennessee, the couple is required to register for a parenting class and complete the class within 60 days. According to reports, the couple is ready to have a judge sign off on the prenuptial agreement and permanent parenting plan.

Related: What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Served?

Kevin Costner

In early May 2023, Kevin Costner’s wife Christine Costner filed for divorce. Christine Costner cited irreconcilable differences as the reason to end the 18-year marriage, according to reporting by TMZ. Christine Costner is Kevin Costner’s second wife, and they share three children, ages 12, 14, and 15.

The Costners also had a prenuptial agreement. Kevin Costner’s legal response said, “spousal support to be payable to petitioner pursuant to the terms of the parties’ Premarital Agreement.” Christine Costner asked for joint custody in her filing, and it appears that her husband is in agreement on the custody agreement for their children, filing for joint custody as well.

Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?

Drake Bell

In April 2023, just a few weeks after Drake Bell was reported missing, his wife, Janet Von Schmeling filed for divorce. The couple has been married for four years and share a one-year-old son, according to reporting by TMZ.

Von Schmeling cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce, which comes months after the couple separated in September 2022. According to reports, Von Schmeling is seeking primary legal and physical custody of their son and spousal support. She would like Bell to have visitation rights.

Navigate Divorce with a Trusted Advisor

Hollywood stars have to go through the same legal process as everyone else when ending a marriage. They have to sort through divorce proceedings and determine the best way to split up their assets, set spousal and child support payments, and create parenting plans.

If you are going through a divorce and dealing with the same issues, make sure you have a trusted attorney on your side. Don’t delay. Talk to an experienced divorce attorney right away.

Schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi to discuss the details of your situation. Contact our office or call 813-226-1023.

Breaking Down The Case & Verdict in Donald Trump’s Sex Abuse Case

For the first time in history, a former President of the United States has been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation. What does the verdict mean for Donald J. Trump, and what led to the case and the jury’s decision?

What Was the Case About?

In 2019, E. Jean Carroll, a journalist, author, and popular columnist, publicly stated that Donald J. Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Caroll detailed the account in her memoir, What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal. Parts of the story were also included in an article for New York magazine.

In response to the release of the story, Trump made disparaging comments about Carroll. He said, “I’ve never met this person in my life.” He also called Caroll a “liar” and said, “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

In November 2022, Caroll took her story to court.

Caroll filed a civil suit in New York, alleging that Trump raped her and then defamed her after she came out with her story. Carroll was able to file the assault case in civil court despite the statute of limitation due to a new law called the New York State Adult Survivors Act. The law allows litigation for sexual assault allegations that took place even decades ago.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll testified during the trial. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back.”

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

What Was the Outcome of the Case?

The case was heard in front of a nine-person jury in New York state.

During the trial, Caroll took the stand to share her experience. Her legal team called ten others to testify which included two women who testified that Trump also sexually assaulted them.

While Trump has denied any wrongdoing, his legal team did not present a defense in the case. They called no witnesses, and Trump did not attend the trial. Trump’s team asked for a mistrial, but it was not granted by the judge.

The two-week trial ended with a jury of six men and three women determining that Trump was liable for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll.

The jury said there was enough evidence to believe that Trump sexually abused Carroll, but they did not find enough evidence to say that Trump raped her. 

As reported by CNN, a person is liable for sexual abuse when they subject another person to sexual contact without consent. Under New York law, “sexual contact” means “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party.”

The jury also said Trump defamed Carroll when he denied her story. 

As reported by NPR, the jury found that Trump had acted “maliciously, out of hatred, ill will, spite or wanton, reckless, or willful disregard of the rights of another.”

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

What Are the Consequences?

The jury awarded Carroll a total of $5 million.

In finding Trump liable for battery, the jury awarded Carroll $2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $20,000 in punitive damages.

In finding Trump liable for defamation, the jury awarded Carroll $2.7 million in compensatory damages and an additional $280,000 for punitive damages.

Because the case was a civil case, Trump will face no jail time.

The verdict does not impact Trump’s presidential race. He can continue his bid for the presidency.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

What Will Happen Next?

Trump continues to say he has done nothing wrong, and his legal team filed an appeal the day the verdict was announced.

One day after the jury found Trump guilty of defaming Carroll, Trump again spoke publicly about Carroll during a televised town hall on CNN calling, her a “wack job.”

According to the New York Times, Carroll’s attorney Roberta A. Kaplan said she is considering filing a new defamation lawsuit against Trump as he continues to speak publicly about Carroll.

Get Trusted Legal Advice

Whether you are bringing a case against a person or company or you are facing civil or criminal charges, seek legal advice right away. Don’t enter into a legal matter without a trusted attorney by your side. Work with a partner who can help you understand the complexities of the law and guide you to the best possible outcome for your case.

Review your case today. Request a consultation with attorney TJ Grimaldi. Request your free consultation by contacting our office or calling 813-226-1023 today.

No Charges Filed in Shooting Death of University of Tampa Student

An ordinary night out ended in tragedy when a University of Tampa student tried to get into the wrong car and ended up fatally wounded by a gunshot.

What happened, and why was the shooter not charged in this deadly incident?

What Happened That Night?

On a Saturday night in September 2022, 19-year-old University of Tampa student Carson Senfield went out with friends in the popular nightlife district on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, Florida. He was celebrating his birthday.

When he was ready to go home, Senfield got into an Uber to take him to his house on the 1000 block of West Arch Street. According to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, he got out of the Uber but never made it into the house.

At around 1:20 a.m., instead of going inside, Senfield tried to get into a car.

An attorney for Senfield’s family says they believe he thought the car was an Uber. They think Senfield couldn’t find his keys, so he called an Uber to take him back to the bar to meet his roommates. But the car wasn’t an Uber.

When Senfield opened the door and attempted to get in the backseat, the driver of the car turned and shot him.

Senfield died from his injuries.

What Do We Know About the Shooter?

The identity of the driver hasn’t been publicly released. Public reports redacted the shooter’s name, citing Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law refers to Florida Statutes that are typically used to protect the rights of victims of a crime.

What has been publicly shared about the shooter is their account of the incident and what the state plans to do about it.

The owner of the car said they were afraid when Senfield opened the door and tried to get in. The driver said they didn’t know Senfield or why he was trying to get into the car, and they feared for their life which is why they opened fire.

Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez decided not to file charges against the shooter.

Case Shows Similarities to Other Recent Shootings

News about the state’s decision not to file charges came out shortly after a string of four other seemingly innocent actions led to shootings across the United States.

A car pulling in the wrong driveway, a kid’s basketball rolling in the wrong driveway, a teen knocking on the wrong door, and most similarly, a cheerleader getting into the wrong car all resulted in shots fired — and charges filed.

In each of those cases, the shooters were charged with crimes.

So, what was different in this case?

Related: Will Man Go to Jail for Shooting a Teen Who Knocked on His Door?

Why Weren’t Charges Filed?

On December 27, 2022, Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez sent a letter to interim Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw indicating that the state would not file charges against the shooter.

The letter, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, said, “A review of the facts gathered during the investigation and applicable law compels the conclusion that [redacted] use of deadly force against Carson Senfield was justified pursuant to Florida Statute 776.012(2).”

Florida Statute 776.012 is often referred to as “stand your ground” laws.

What Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws

Florida law says, “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

Stand your ground laws say a person in Florida does not have a duty to retreat if they feel their life is in danger. An individual can use deadly force without first trying to get away.

Stand your ground laws can be used as a self-defense defense. If a person is charged with homicide, they can attempt to prove that they felt their life was in danger when they took action that led to the death of another person.

Stand your ground laws can also be used to stop charges from being made. In this case, the State Attorney declined to file charges because they believed the driver was justified in shooting Senfield pursuant to stand your ground laws.

Related: Will “Stand Your Ground” Get Former FSU Receiver Travis Rudolph Out of Murder Charges?

Talk to a Trusted Attorney

If you or a loved one are navigating the complexities of the legal system, work with a trusted attorney who can guide you through the process. Find an attorney who will fight for your best interest and work to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Talk to a trusted attorney today. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation with TJ Grimaldi.

Supporting Victims of Gun Violence

TJ Grimaldi is Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation, a non-profit created to help kids get the resources they need in the wake of being impacted by gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can help support children impacted by gun violence.

Why Is Gwyneth Paltrow Suing a Man For One Dollar?

Seven years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow was skiing with her family in Park City Utah. That day would be the reason why Paltrow was in court this week facing a personal injury lawsuit and pursuing a countersuit that asks for $1.

What are the details of the case, and why is Paltrow asking for $1 in damages?

A Collision on The Sky Slopes

On February 26, 2016, actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow was enjoying a day of skiing with her husband and two children. The family hired Eric Christiansen, a ski instructor with 44 years of experience, to provide lessons for Paltrow’s son.

At the same time, retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, now 76, was also on the slopes at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

At some point on the beginner’s course, Paltrow and Sanderson collided.

Paltrow and Sanderson have very different descriptions of what happened, and their perspectives are at the core of a personal injury case that is scheduled to last for eight days in front of a jury.

He Said — She Said

Sanderson alleges that Paltrow ran into him in a type of “hit and run” on the slope. He says she crashed into him and then got up and left without aiding or assisting him. Sanderson said the crash left him with four broken ribs and a brain injury.

Paltrow has a different version of events.

She said Sanderson ran into her and told her he was fine before leaving the scene.

Christiansen, the ski instructor with Paltrow’s family, didn’t see the accident but he was one of the first people to respond to the incident. He filed a report with Deer Valley Resort saying Sanderson hit Paltrow from behind.

But, the impact of the crash didn’t end there.

He Sued — She Sued

Three years after the crash on the ski slopes, Sanderson filed a personal injury lawsuit against Paltrow.

The lawsuit claims that Sanderson experienced damages due to the injuries he sustained from the collision with Paltrow. Sanderson said he took three years to file the lawsuit because he had problems with attorneys and couldn’t function properly because of his injuries. Sanderson originally sought $3.1 million in damage but his initial lawsuit was dropped, according to USA TODAY.

He is now suing Paltrow for $300,000.

Sanderson is also suing Deer Valley Resort. Sanderson says the resort filed a false report indicating that he caused the crash.

Paltrow responded to the lawsuit with one of her own.

She filed a counterclaim against Sanderson. Her lawsuit says she is seeking “symbolic damages in the amount of $1, plus her costs and attorney’s fees to defend this meritless claim.”

The personal injury lawsuit filed in 2019 in Utah was finally brought to trial on March 21, 2023.

Related: Personal Injury Compensation: What Can You Fight For?

How to Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case

The personal injury case is filed in Utah and will follow Utah laws. To prove fault in a personal injury case in Utah, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was liable.

Sanderson must prove:

  • Paltrow had a duty to provide a safe space for Sanderson
  • Paltrow was negligent and breached that duty
  • The breach caused an accident
  • The accident led to harm and damages for Sanderson

Paltrow’s legal team is fighting these allegations while pointing blame back on Sanderson.

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: Do You Have a Claim? 

What Has Happened in the Trial So Far?

So far in the trial, each side has brought individuals to testify to support their case.

Radiologist Dr. Wendell Gibby testified that Sanderson’s head trauma appeared to be an injury caused by someone crashing into him. Neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong testified that she couldn’t say with certainty that the crash directly led to Sanderson’s health issues.

Paltrow told her version of the story on the stand, saying Sanderson “categorically hit me on that ski slope.”

Ski instructor Christiansen testified that he found the two intertwined with Paltrow on top. Paltrow told him she was hit and never saw it coming. He also testified that Paltrow had a strong skiing ability, according to Insider.

Terry Sanderson took the stand to say he heard a “bloodcurdling” scream before he was hit from behind which sent him “flying.”

Now, it will be up to the jury to decide which side caused the accident and who is entitled to damages — even if the damages are just $1.

Related: How to Prepare for a Personal Injury Deposition

Protect Your Rights with a Trusted Attorney

If someone’s negligence led to an injury to you or a loved one, you are entitled to damages. Talk to a personal injury attorney about whether or not you have a case worth fighting for. Contact TJ Grimaldi for your free consultation to discuss the details of your case and possible next steps. Contact us to schedule today or call us at 813-226-1023.

Parents Sue Airbnb After Toddler Ingests Fentanyl & Dies During Stay at Rental

A family vacation ended in tragedy when the youngest member of the family was rushed to the hospital. The toddler ingested a small amount of fentanyl that had been located somewhere around the family’s Airbnb rental. The 19-month-old didn’t survive, and now the parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who are they suing, and who is to blame?

A Family Vacation Gone Terribly Wrong

In August 2021, Lydie and Boris Lavenir rented a four-bedroom lake house from Airbnb. The family planned to spend a vacation at the South Florida house with their five children. They traveled from the French island of Guadeloupe and flew into the Miami airport.

The day after their arrival, the Lavenirs put their 19-month-old daughter, Enora, down for a nap. When they checked on her later, they found her unresponsive and foaming at the mouth.

Enora was rushed to the hospital, but she did not survive.

The parents thought Enora died from sudden infant death syndrome — until they received the autopsy report.

The autopsy revealed the cause of death was acute fentanyl toxicity.

Are The Parents Responsible?

The Lavenirs say they took Enora directly from the airport to the rental house and didn’t take the toddler out of the house after their initial arrival. They believe Enora must have found and consumed the fentanyl in the rental house.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is dangerous and can be deadly even in small quantities.

The family says they had never heard of the drug before they learned it had killed their daughter.

According to USA TODAY, an investigation was done at the property and found no illicit drugs. Both of the parents were also drug tested. Each parent tested negative for drugs, and no trace amounts of drugs were found on any of their belongings.

“I am currently unable to determine how the child Enora Lavenir ingested the fentanyl, therefore I am unable to develop probable cause for abuse or neglect leading to the death of Enora,” a PBSO detective wrote in the most recent report.

The parents were not charged in their daughter’s death, and now, they seek to hold other parties accountable.

Who Is Facing the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

More than a year after their daughter’s death, the Lavenirs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against:

  • Airbnb
  • The owner of the rental property
  • The manager of the rental property
  • The man who rented the property before the Lavenir’s stay

The Lavenirs alleged that the property was not properly cleaned, drugs were present, and each party should be held accountable.

“If you are in the business of renting out homes and you tell people that it’s safe and secure and it’s sanitary and you end up having a baby killed as a result of (negligence), you should expect to be sued and rightfully so,” said the family’s Miami-based attorney Thomas Scolaro.

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

Will Anyone Be Held Accountable?

To prove negligence in a wrongful death case, the victim’s family must prove:

  • A person or party’s negligence led to the deadly incident.
  • The person or party was aware of an unsafe condition but failed to act.
  • The negligence directly caused the incident.
  • The incident led to financial or emotional damages.
  • The person or party had a duty to provide a safe condition for the injured party.

The Lavenirs will need to prove that each party could have prevented the death of their daughter but failed to act.

Each party appears ready to fight the wrongful death lawsuit.

The prior renter says he cannot be held accountable for what happened in the house — which he booked through VRBO, not Airbnb — after he left. According to the New York Post, he admitted to having a party and said about 10 to 12 people stayed at the home over the course of his three-day visit.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company had not done any bookings at the property before the Lavenir’s stay and pointed to the fact that the previous renter had used VRBO not Airbnb to book his stay.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases: Do You Have a Case?

Get Justice for Your Loved Ones

If you or a loved one experienced a loss due to the negligence of another person or party, you deserve justice. Talk to an experienced wrongful death or personal injury attorney to find out if you have a case worth fighting for.

To share the details of your case, schedule a free call with attorney TJ Grimaldi. All consultations are free and confidential. Contact us to schedule today or call us at 813-226-1023.

Tampa Police Chief Resigns After Flashing Badge During Traffic Stop

After less than a year on the job, Tampa police chief Mary O’Connor resigned. Why did a minor traffic stop on a golf cart lead to her resignation?

What Happened During the Traffic Stop?

On November 12, 2022, Tampa police chief Mary O’Connor was riding in the front passenger seat of a golf cart. Her husband Keith  O’Connor was driving the golf cart on the road illegally in Pinellas County, a county neighboring Hillsborough County where Tampa is located.

The couple was pulled over by Pinellas sheriff’s deputy Larry Jacoby. Jacoby stopped the couple because they were driving on the road without the required license plate tag for a golf cart.

The encounter was caught on body cam footage.

In the video, the officer explains why he pulled the couple over. O’Connor pulls her badge from her pocket and presents it to the officer. She informs him that she is the Tampa police chief and says, “hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight.”

Near the end of the encounter, O’Connor apologizes to the deputy, gives him her business card, and says, “if you ever need anything, call me.”

The officer let the couple go without a ticket.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

The Repercussions After the Traffic Stop

Roughly two weeks after the traffic stop, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay submitted a public records request for the body camera footage of the incident from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

O’Connor knew there was footage from the traffic stop. During the video, she asks the officer if his body cam is on, and he replies that it is.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was first notified about the incident once the footage was about to be released to the public, 18 days after the traffic stop. O’Connor notified Castor the day the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay the video would be released the next day.

The day the video was released, Castor ordered an internal affairs investigation, and the Tampa Police department released a statement which included comments from both O’Connor and Castor.

O’Connor said, “In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent. I knew my conversation was on video, and my motive was not to put the deputy in an uncomfortable position. I have personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff offering to pay for any potential citation.”

Castor said, “We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable. Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.” Castor then opened an internal affairs review of the incident.

Not long after the release of the video, on December 5, 2022, O’Connor resigned. In a statement, Castor said it was “unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position.”

Assistant police chief Lee Bercaw was named interim police chief.

Beginning and Ending in Controversy

O’Connor’s ten months as Tampa police chief started and ended with controversy.

When O’Connor was named as a police chief in March, many people were upset about the decision. In 1995, when O’Connor (known then as Mary Minter) was a rookie police officer in Tampa, she disrupted a traffic stop. She was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a suspected DUI. The driver (who was also a Tampa police officer) was arrested for a DUI, and O’Connor was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, obstruction, and disorderly intoxication.

Both officers were fired and then later reinstated. O’Connor went on to have a long career in law enforcement which eventually led to her becoming Tampa’s police chief.

Many in Tampa believed the incident should have disqualified O’Connor, but she was named as Tampa police chief in March 2022. Now after just ten months, the city of Tampa is conducting a national search to find her replacement.

Related: What to Expect From a First Offense DUI

Protect Your Rights

No one is above the law. Every person accused of a potential crime deserves due process and to be treated fairly within the legal system. If you have been arrested for a crime or face any level of criminal charges, talk to an attorney right away. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure you receive fair treatment every step of the way. They will also fight for you to get the most just outcome possible.

If you are facing criminal charges, talk to an attorney about your options today. Contact TJ Grimaldi to see how our team can help you navigate your legal situation and come out with the best possible outcome. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

A Lawsuit Over Mac and Cheese and 400+ Other Food Lawsuits Filed by a NY Attorney

A package of instant macaroni and cheese doesn’t seem like something to lead to a lawsuit. But, a cup of noodles is now at the heart of a lawsuit filed by a Florida woman.

What led to the lawsuit, and why has her attorney filed over 400 lawsuits about food?

The Mac and Cheese Lawsuit

Amanda Ramirez claims she purchased a package of instant Velveeta Shells & Cheese. According to the packaging, the product should be ready in 3 ½ minutes. When Ramirez cooked the food, she realized it took longer than the advertised time. After stirring in the water and waiting for the cheese to thicken, it took more than 3 ½ minutes for the food to be ready to eat.

Ramirez decided to sue over the discrepancy.

Ramirez partnered with New York-based attorney Spencer Sheehan to file a class action lawsuit against Kraft Heinz Company (which owns the Velveeta brand) for what it believes is false advertising. The lawsuit alleges that Kraft Heinz misleads customers and drives them to purchase the product at a higher price due to the perceived convenience.

According to the lawsuit, “As a result of the false and misleading representations, the Product is sold at a premium price, approximately no less than $10.99 for eight 2.39 oz cups, excluding tax and sales, higher than similar products, represented in a non-misleading way, and higher than it would be sold for absent the misleading representations and omissions.”

As reported by NPR, the 15-page class action lawsuit seeks over $5 million in damages to cover consumers in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, Iowa, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

A Pattern of Food-Related Lawsuits

The mac and cheese lawsuit isn’t the first time Sheehan has filed a lawsuit related to false advertising in food products.

According to NPR, Sheehan has filed more than 400 lawsuits related to mislabeling and misrepresenting food products.

Some of Sheehan’s lawsuits include:

  • A lawsuit against Frito-Lay for not using enough real lime juice in its “hint of lime” Tostitos.
  • A lawsuit against Snack Pack pudding for saying it is “made with real milk” when it is actually made with fat-free skim milk.
  • A lawsuit against Pop Tarts for misrepresenting the amount of fruit in strawberry Pop Tarts.
  • Roughly 120 lawsuits against food companies that say their products are “vanilla” while including no actual vanilla bean.

Some of Sheehan’s hundreds of cases have been dismissed by judges, but many others have been voluntarily dismissed.

When a case is voluntarily dismissed, the plaintiff terminates the lawsuit. It is typically a result of the two sides coming to an agreement out of court. In those cases, the defendant often pays the plaintiff to end the lawsuit.

In class action lawsuits with many plaintiffs, each plaintiff doesn’t usually take home a significant amount of money if they win or settle a case. But, Sheehan’s cases could be lucrative for him as the plaintiff’s attorney.

According to Bonnie Patten of Truth In Advertising, “The vast majority of consumers will get absolutely nothing, and a very small percentage will get next to nothing. Generally, the plaintiff’s attorney will be taking home between 25 and 33%.”

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

Food Lawsuits Now and Then

Sheehan isn’t the first person to file class action lawsuits related to the false advertising of food products. It has happened recently and decades ago.

Just one month before the mac and cheese lawsuit, Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost filed a class action lawsuit against Barilla, a pasta making company. The lawsuit alleges that Barilla engages in false advertising by featuring the slogan “Italy’s #1 Brand of Pasta” on pasta boxes, even though the pasta is not made in Italy. Barilla moved to dismiss the case in August, but the judge denied the request. The case is still currently moving through the legal system.

Lawsuits over misrepresentation in food packaging and advertising go as far back as the early ‘90s.

In 1991, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for false and misleading advertising. Overton said commercials for Anheuser-Busch beers featured, “scenic tropical settings [and] beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment.” He said this image turned out to be “untrue.” The beer commercials depicted a fantasy that wasn’t what you got when you consumed the product.

Overton said the misrepresentation caused him emotional distress, mental and physical injury, and over $10,000 in financial losses. The beer case was dismissed.

Related: What to Ask During a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

Get Serious Legal Representation

While some legal cases may seem silly, there is nothing silly about being involved in a legal matter.

If you find yourself facing legal issues, talk to an attorney right away. Find a trusted lawyer who will fight for you to get the best possible outcome, whether you’re facing civil or criminal charges. To get legal advice right away, schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi. All consultations are free. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

Scooter Accident Leads to Boy’s Death and DUI Manslaughter Charges

In early November, a tragedy occurred when a 10-year-old fell from a motorized scooter and was killed in Tampa, Florida. He was a passenger riding on the scooter, and the driver is facing charges for the accident.

What led to the terrible accident, and what consequences await the driver?

An Awful Accident

On November 10, 2022, around 6:40 p.m., 37-year-old Yordanis Leyva was driving a motorized scooter in Tampa, Florida. On the scooter with him was a 10-year-old boy, who has not been named. The boy and the man knew each other, but the details of their relationship have not been released.

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Leyva made a wide turn to pull into a gas station at 3605 West Hillsborough Ave. He took the turn too wide and caused the two riders to fall to the ground in the path of oncoming traffic. A driver didn’t see them on the road and ran them over.

Both Leyva and the boy were taken to a nearby hospital. Leyva was seriously injured, and the boy died from his injuries.

Who Is at Fault for the Accident?

Investigators pointed blame at the driver of the scooter, not the driver of the car who hit the two riders. Leyva, the scooter driver, was intoxicated at the time of the accident and is accused of being at fault for the accident.

Leyva was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and driving with a suspended license involving a death.

According to ABC Action News, this isn’t the first time Leyva has been arrested for driving under the influence. In 2019, Leyva was arrested for a DUI. At that time, Leyva was pulled over after police saw him driving erratically, weaving side to side and stopping in the roadway.

Related: How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

What Charges Does the Driver Face?

In Florida, DUI laws are directed under Florida Statutes 316.193. Under the statutes:

  • A DUI leading to serious bodily harm is classified as a third-degree felony. It can come with penalties of up to five years in prison, up to five years probation, and a $5,000 fine.
  • A DUI resulting in death is a second-degree felony that comes with a mandatory prison sentence of four years. The maximum sentence is 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Because the boy died from his injuries, Leyva faces DUI manslaughter charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Since it is Leyva’s second DUI, he may face additional consequences.

In Florida, a second DUI offense can result in serious criminal penalties. If the DUI took place within five years of the prior DUI, it can result in a minimum 10-day jail sentence.

A second DUI offense can also lead to:

  • Nine months to one year in jail depending on the driver’s BAC
  • One year in jail if the DUI happened while a passenger under 18 was in the vehicle
  • One year in jail if the DUI caused an accident that led to property damage or injury
  • Five years in jail if the DUI caused an accident that led to “serious bodily injury”

Fines for a second DUI can range from $1,000 to $5,000. A second DUI can also lead to license revocation, vehicle impoundment, and the addition of an ignition-locking device on the driver’s vehicle.

Leyva faces serious charges because the second DUI charge led to an accident that caused the death of a minor.

Related: What To Do About a DUI License Suspension in Florida 

Another Scooter Accident in Tampa Bay

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered a manslaughter case involving scooters in the Tampa Bay area. In November 2021, we covered a story about a man who was charged with manslaughter via culpable negligence after he hit and killed a bicyclist while riding an electric scooter in St. Petersburg.

In that case, the driver wasn’t under the influence, but investigators alleged that his negligence caused the accident.

Scooters — whether they are motorized or electric — can lead to charges and accidents as severe as those that involve average-size vehicles.

Related: What to Expect From a First Offense DUI

Facing DUI Charges Is a Serious Matter

What happened on November 10, 2022, is a terrible tragedy that led to the death of a young boy. No person should drive under the influence and put other lives at risk.

Driving under the influence is a serious danger and a serious charge. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, seek legal assistance right away. Everyone deserves fair due process of the law, even in the case of a DUI. If you have been charged with a DUI, talk to a DUI attorney right away. Contact TJ Grimaldi by requesting your free consultation or calling 813-226-1023 today.