What Do Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Rust Shooting Mean for Alec Baldwin?

It’s been more than a year since a gunshot unexpectedly discharged on the set of the movie Rust. The shot, fired by actor Alec Baldwin, tragically hit and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Now, the actor will be charged with involuntary manslaughter. What do the charges mean, and what potential consequences await Baldwin?

What Happened on Set?

On October 21, 2021, the crew for the movie Rust gathered in a desert outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Actor Alec Baldwin was filming scenes with the crew, including cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Away from the filming location, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer and props assistant, took out a .45 Long Colt, according to reporting by VOX. She looked inside the gun barrel and saw what she believed to be dummy bullets. Gutierrez-Reed gave the gun to assistant director and production safety coordinator David Halls who took the gun to the filming area.

Safety protocols say Gutierrez-Reed was required to check the gun again before it was given to Baldwin to use in a scene. Gutierrez-Reed said she planned to do so, but she wasn’t called to examine the gun a second time. Baldwin wasn’t scheduled to use the gun in the scene, but he picked it up to rehearse an unscheduled scene.

Instead of calling on Gutierrez-Reed when Baldwin went to use the gun, Halls yelled “cold gun,” indicating that the gun wasn’t loaded with live ammunition, then handed the gun to Baldwin.

Baldwin says he pointed the gun and pulled the hammer back when the gun suddenly discharged on its own, hitting Hutchins and Joel Souza, the movie’s director.

Whether or not the gun went off on its own has not been determined. Baldwin stands by his statement that the gun went off on its own. The FBI conducted multiple tests to see if the gun could go off without pulling the trigger, but they were unable to get the gun to go off at all. How the gun went off — and why it contained live ammunition — is still unknown, according to reporting by VOX.

So, who is responsible for the terrible accident?

Who Should Be Responsible?

The fatal gunshot on October 21 wasn’t the first time there were safety issues on the set of Rust. According to a report by the New Mexico Occupational Health & Safety Bureau (OHSB), there were multiple safety issues on set, including two other accidental gun discharges and an incident where a special effects explosive device accidentally exploded.

Lane Luper, one of Hutchins’s camera assistants, quit the day before Hutchins’s death, citing safety violations as one of the reasons in her resignation email. Another crew member quit for similar reasons on the same day.

Producers of the film (which include Baldin) were cited for creating unsafe conditions on set that led to Hutchins’ death. The production company was fined $136,793 by OHSB for workplace safety violations, which is the maximum allowable fine.

Multiple civil lawsuits have also been filed related to the Rust shooting. Most significantly, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ family against Baldwin, the film’s production companies, its producers, and other key members of the crew was settled.

But until now, no person or group has faced criminal charges.

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

Who Is Being Held Criminally Liable?

On January 21, 2023, prosecutors said they will charge Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Hutchins. The pair will not be arrested, although they will be criminally charged.

Involuntary manslaughter describes cases where the defendant had no intention to kill another person but their actions led to the death of another person. In New Mexico, the charges hold serious consequences.

If convicted, both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face up to five years or 18 months in prison. If the jury finds the pair guilty, the jury will choose between two types of manslaughter charges. One includes a firearm enhancement and carries a mandatory five-year sentence. Without the firearm enhancement, the pair would face up to 18 months in prison.

Halls, the production safety coordinator, may have been included in the criminal charge, but he chose to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Now Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will have to choose to settle the case out of court or move forward with a trial to attempt to prove they shouldn’t be responsible for Hutchins’ death. They may attempt to point the finger at another person or the production company.

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

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime is a serious situation. If you or someone close to you has been arrested for a crime, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

TJ Grimaldi has worked with criminal cases of all types and sizes. From minor citations to large-scale cases, he works closely with clients to help them understand the legal process and fight for their innocence. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Is Evidence in the University of Idaho Stabbings Enough to Convict the Suspect?

After nine long weeks, a suspect has been arrested in the brutal killings of four University of Idaho students. Who is the suspected killer, and what evidence is there to tie him to the scene of the crime?

What Happened on That Terrible Night?

On November 13, four friends and students at the University of Idaho went out for a night of fun.

Ethan Chapin, 20, and Xana Kernodle, 20, who were dating, went to a party together at the Sigma Chi frat house. They arrived back at the house where Kernodle lived with her four roommates.

Two of Kernodle’s roommates, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, and Madison Mogen, 21, arrived home shortly after the couple at around 2:00 AM. The lifelong friends had been out at a bar and stopped for food on their way home.

Two other roommates were already in the three-story townhouse and had been home since about 1:00 AM.

At around 4:00 AM, someone else entered the townhome. Likely entering through an unlocked sliding glass door, the person went to the second and third floors of the building and stabbed and murdered Chapin, Kernodle, Mogen, and Goncalves.

The two roommates on the first floor of the townhome were not harmed during the incident.

How Did Police Catch The Suspect?

It took weeks, but police now believe they have the person who committed the heinous murders.

Bryan Kohberger, 28, was arrested and charged with four counts of first degree murder.

Kohberger was arrested at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania where he was visiting them for the holidays. Kohberger is a Ph.D. student at Washington State University studying Criminal Justice and Criminology. Washington State University is less than ten miles from the University of Idaho.

Police believe Kohberger is the killer based on their findings, as reported by the New York Times.

  • Investigators found a tan leather knife sheath at the scene of the crime. DNA from the sheath was tied to DNA collected from Kohberger’s parents’ home in Pennsylvania.
  • Footage from multiple sources shows a white Hyundai Elantra making multiple passes by the house between 3:29 AM and 4:20 AM on the night of the murders. Kohberger’s vehicle matches the description of the white Hyundai Elantra.
  • Phone records show that Kohberger visited the neighborhood of the crime scene 12 times the night before the murders.
  • One of the two surviving roommates said in an affidavit that she saw someone in the house the night of the murder. She said he had on a mask covering his mouth and nose and described him as, “as 5’ 10″ or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows.” Kohberger fits the description.

Because Kohberger was arrested in Pennsylvania for charges he faces in Idaho, he needed to be extradited. Kohberger waived his extradition rights in the brief hearing and was moved to the state where he now faces serious charges.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What Charges Does Kohberger Face?

Kohberger has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one charge of felony burglary.

At a press conference, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson said the felony burglary charge  involved, “entering the residence with the intent to commit the crime of murder.” Idaho Code 18-1401 states that “every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, store, shop, warehouse, mill, barn, stable, outhouse, or a building, tent, vessel, vehicle, trailer, airplane, or railroad car with intent to commit any theft or any felony is guilty of burglary.” The maximum penalty for felony burglary is ten years in prison.

But the consequences for the felony burglary pale in comparison to the consequences for the four first degree murder charges.

In Idaho, the maximum penalty for first-degree murder is life in prison or the death penalty.

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

Will Kohberger Be Convicted?

Kohberger’s public defender, Jason LaBar, issued a statement indicating that Kohberger wants to fight the charges. The statement read, “Mr. Kohberger is eager to be exonerated of these charges and looks forward to resolving these matters as promptly as possible.”

While there is growing evidence that ties Kohberger to the murders, there are some big pieces of the picture that are still missing.

There is no murder weapon and no motive.

Kohberger’s legal team may choose to fight to exonerate Kohberger at trial. At this time, it is more likely that they may try to prove that there isn’t enough evidence to convict Kohberger than to try to plead guilty by insanity. Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney, told Newsweek that Idaho state law does not allow suspects to plead not guilty by insanity.

We will have to wait and see if more evidence is uncovered and what type of defense Kohberger’s legal team puts together as Kohberger faces life in prison or the death penalty.

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

Get Trusted Representation in a Criminal Case

All accused criminals deserve fair due process of the law. If you find yourself facing criminal charges, make sure you have an attorney who can fight for your best interests. Talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged. To talk to a criminal defense attorney right away,  request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi today.

Man Charged with First-Degree Murder After Fentanyl He Provided to Women Caused Her Death

A Florida woman overdosed on fentanyl and died. Now, the person who gave her the substance is being charged with first-degree murder.

What happened, and how does Florida law define murder charges for people who provide drugs that turn out to be lethal?

A Fentanyl Overdose Leads to Death

In May 2022, a mother and daughter (whose names have not been released) were driving around Hudson and New Port Richey, Florida with the daughter’s boyfriend, Robert Michelmore. The mother drove the couple to a few locations, including Best Buy.

After their errands, the mother dropped Michelmore off at his home before returning home with her daughter. At that time, the daughter said she was going to watch a movie. Two hours later, the mother went to check on her daughter and found her unresponsive. She called 911, but it was too late. Her daughter had died from a combination of drugs which included fentanyl.

The daughter’s phone was nearby. She had a message from Michelmore that said, “I tried calling you and you wouldn’t answer the phone, how is it?”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Michelmore later admitted that he put fentanyl in the daughter’s purse while they were at Best Buy. Michelmore had purchased fentanyl the day before, and records show he sent the woman a text at that time saying, “I got some fetty.”

Michelmore later said he warned the woman that the substance was strong and he reportedly told her to only take “a little bit” because he “didn’t want her to die.”

But the woman died, and now, Michelmore is facing the consequences.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Facing First-Degree Murder Charges

In December 2022, Michelmore was arrested and indicted on a charge of “death caused by the unlawful distribution of fentanyl,” according to Pasco County court records.

Florida has a drug-induced homicide law which states that any person supplying drugs to another person can be charged with homicide if the person dies after using the substance. The law is defined under Florida Statute 782.04(1)(a)(3).

It is a first-degree murder charge, which carries the same potential consequences as premeditated murder or a homicide caused while committing a felony. It is the most serious charge of all homicides and is considered a Capital Offense.

Related: How Much Does an Attorney Cost? 8 Factors to Consider

Potential Consequences of First-Degree Murder

In Florida, a conviction of first-degree murder can be punishable by life in prison with no parole. It can also carry the consequence of the death penalty.

It is not very common for prosecutors to seek the death penalty for first-degree murder cases, and it is unlikely Michelmore will face the death penalty. But, the harsh potential consequence shows the severity of the crime committed.

Other Substances Can Lead to First-Degree Murder Charges

Fentanyl is just one type of illegal substance that can lead to a first-degree murder charge if an individual provides it to someone who uses it and dies. According to Florida Statute 782.04(1)(a)(3), the same rules apply to the distribution of:

  • Cocaine
  • Opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium
  • Methadone
  • Alfentanil
  • Carfentanil
  • Sufentanil
  • Methamphetamine

This list is not exhaustive. The statute also includes, “A controlled substance analog, as described in Florida Statute 893.0356, of any substance specified in sub-subparagraphs a.-i.” The statute includes a long list of other substances that could lead to a first-degree murder charge if their distribution leads to a death.

Michelmore is being held without bail at the Pinellas County jail.

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

Get the Advice of an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Every person arrested for a crime deserves fair due process as their case weaves its way through the court system. If you have been arrested for a crime and have questions about your case, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that you get a fair and just outcome. Don’t go blindly into a criminal case. Get a professional by your side. Talk to TJ Grimaldi today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Settle Divorce, West To Pay $200K in Child Support

When Kim Kardashian and Kayne West announced their split, many speculated what the terms of their divorce might look like. Now, we know. Here are the terms of the divorce that include West paying $200,000 per month in child support.

A Brief History of Kardashian and West’s Relationship

In 2012, Kim Kardashian and Kayne West announced they were dating. The two had known each other since the early 2000s but officially started dating in April 2012. A little more than a year later, the couple welcomed their first child. The couple was then married in 2014 and welcomed three more children over the next five years.

Throughout the years, the couple had public rough patches that often put them in the news. The public incidents peaked in 2020 when West announced he was running for president of the United States.

In February 2021, Kardashian officially filed for divorce from West.

It had been previously reported that Kardashian and West had a prenuptial agreement. According to reports, the prenup outlined how the couple’s assets would be divided, but it didn’t include guidelines for child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Recently, those details were reported after the couple finalized their divorce.

Related: The Legal Case Behind Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Divorce   

The Details of Child Custody

According to details of the divorce settlement, Kardashian and West will share joint custody of their four children: North, 9; Saint, 6; Chicago, 4; and Psalm, 3.

Joint custody provides both parents legal custody, physical custody, or both. Legal custody grants a parent the right to make decisions about how the child will be raised and cared for. Physical custody grants a parent the right to have the child live with them.

While the settlement said each parent has “equal access,” it’s likely that Kardashian will live with the children a majority of the time. West has made comments stating that Kardashian is with the kids roughly 80% of the time.

Related: 5 Types of Child Custody and What They Mean for Your Family   

The Details of Child Support

The divorce settlement also stated that Kardashian will receive $200,000 a month from West for child support. West will also pay 50% of the children’s educational and security expenses.

In divorce cases that involve children, child support payments can be determined by the family, through mediation, or by a judge. It appears that West and Kardashian came to the agreement together. The settlement also included directions for what happens if either party has a dispute with the agreement in the future.

The settlement says if the couple has a dispute over their agreement, they must attend mediation. If either party fails to show up to mediation, the participating party becomes the decision-maker.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

The Details of Spousal Support

Per the divorce settlement, neither West nor Kardashian will receive spousal support.

It was previously reported that both West and Kardashian requested a termination of the court’s ability to award spousal support back in April 2021. The recent settlement confirmed that the couple waived spousal support.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney Before Hiring Them 

The Details of Property Division

Kardashian and West had already come to an agreement on how to split their property per a prenuptial agreement. It was reported that their prenup stated:

  • Kardashian and West would each keep the individual assets they had when they entered the marriage
  • Kardashian and West would both keep the individual assets they acquired during their marriage
  • Kardashian would receive $1 million for each year she was married to West (capped at $10 million)
  • Their primary residence would be in Kardashian’s name
  • Kardashian would keep all of the jewelry and gifts given to her by West

Since the details of property division were already outlined, the couple only needed to resolve their family matters for the divorce to be finalized. Now, it appears that all details of their divorce are settled.

Related: What Happens After Divorce Papers Are Served?

How to Navigate a Complex Divorce

Divorce can be complicated. Between splitting up assets and coming to agreements on child support, child custody, and spousal support, a couple has a lot to think about.

If you’re going through a divorce, make sure you have a divorce attorney by your side who can help you consider all of your options and come out with the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

If you’d like to discuss your marital split, talk to TJ Grimaldi. TJ is an experienced family law attorney who can help you terminate your divorce while also setting up agreements for splitting up assets and creating arrangements for your family. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Handyman Sues Johnny Knoxville Over Prank That Caused Emotional Distress

Johnny Knoxville is known for his pranks. As the star of the “Jackass” franchise, Knoxville and his crew often perform pranks and stunts that put them in uncomfortable, embarrassing, or even dangerous situations.

But one of their pranks may have gone too far, and it led to a lawsuit.

What did Knoxville do, and will he be liable for damages?

A Prank Gone Too Far?

Khalil Khan is a freelance electrician in California who finds work through the Taskrabbit app.

According to Variety, Khan received a request to repair an electric dimmer switch at a private home. When Khan arrived at the home, he met a man who threatened to beat him up if he didn’t do the job right. Khan started to work on the dimmer switch when a lamp went out and a ten-year-old girl came into the room. The girl told him he made the power go out and killed her horse which was on life support in another room.

The ten-year-old was an actor involved in the prank put on by Knoxville and his team.

Khan was then brought into a room, which appeared to have a pony hooked up to machines. From there, Khan could see out the window, and his car was being towed. When Khan said he wanted to call the cops, a man pulled out a bag of white powder and told Khan he would get in trouble because his vehicle had cocaine in it.

Khan said he was “horrified” by the incident.

Knoxville eventually disclosed to Khan that he was being pranked. Knoxville was filming the prank for his new series “The Prank Patrol,” an ABC comedy series set to premiere in 2023.

Knoxville offered Kahn money for his participation, but rather than take the money, Khan filed a lawsuit.

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

Handman Files Emotional Distress Lawsuit

Khan filed a lawsuit in Long Beach Superior Court that alleges that he was put into a state of panic by the prank. He is seeking damages for emotional distress, worry, anxiety, and possible harm to his business reputation.

The lawsuit states, “In the span of just minutes, he had been threatened with being beaten up, told he botched the repair job, accused of murdering a pony, had his car taken without his permission, and was now being told that he would be arrested for possession of illicit narcotics.”

“He has been badly shaken and traumatized by this episode,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims that Khan has suffered lack of sleep, anxiety, and emotional distress. It is not clear what damages the lawsuit seeks.

Related: 6 of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About Personal Injury 

Can You Sue for Emotional Distress?

The lawsuit is filed in California and will abide by California law. California allows victims to sue for infliction of emotional distress (IIED).

In Florida, a victim could file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to sue for emotional distress. While it can be more difficult to prove emotional injury than physical injury, victims can seek damages if the negligence of another party led to their suffering.

To win a case for emotional distress, the victim would need to prove fault for a personal injury case. The plaintiff would need to prove two things.

  • The defendant created a situation that led to emotional distress. The defendant intentionally created the situation or created the situation due to negligence.
  • The emotional distress led to damages. The distress led to compensation damages (such as the cost for medical bills, loss of earnings, etc.) and/or general compensatory damages, also known as “pain and suffering” compensation.

In Khan’s situation, he may have a case if he can prove that the prank led to emotional distress which needed to be treated by medical doctors or led to the loss of income. He may also be able to show that he lost business due to damage to his business reputation.

Khan and Knoxville could settle the case out of court, or the case will continue to wind its way through the legal system.

Related: Want to Sue for Personal Injury? Take These 4 Steps  

Fight for Your Rights

If you experience harm due to the negligence or maliciousness of another person, you deserve to be made whole. Whether the harm is physical or emotional, you can fight to get to what is owed to you.

Talk to a personal injury attorney about your options for collecting damages to recover from financial, physical, or emotional harm that was caused to you or your business.

To get answers to any of your personal injury questions, talk to TJ Grimaldi. TJ is an experienced personal attorney offering free consultations to discuss personal injury cases. Talk to TJ today about your case. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

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.