IRB Wins in Claim Against Former CM In Drawn-Out Action
By Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The city’s long-standing legal action against a former city manager has been resolved with a sub text demonstrating how inept, bizarre and screwy juries are.
A Pinellas County jury found for the city in its suit against Al Grieshaber, but reduced damages awarded with an offset to Grieshaber on his counterclaim against the city...
In terms of money, the amounts were chump change and given the length of time and legal machinations that attended the case much larger amounts of money went to the lawyers who were litigating the matter.
The jury decided that Grieshaber had breached his employment contract with the city, that the city should be awarded damages for the breach, that Grieshaber did not intentionally and knowingly lie in order to obtain money from the city.
On his counterclaim, the jury concluded that Grieshaber had made a false claim but did so believing his claim to be true and that insofar as the city was in breach of the contract he should be awarded damages.
It is at this point that the jury decision departs from any known common sense or rational.
The city was seeking a total of $15,650.03 from Defendant Grieshaber for moving expenses paid to Grieshaber and for excess payment of overtime paid to Grieshaber.
Grieshaber, on the other hand, was seeking $4,653.60 he claimed the city owed him plus, of course, avoidance of the city’s claims against him.
The jury, in handwritten words on the verdict form, calculated a reduction of $6,620.70 from the city’s claim of $15,650.05 (sic) leaving the city a remainder of $9,020.35 to be paid by Grieshaber.
Other than being unable to get the money figures accurately, the jury’s conclusion raises the question of on what basis Grieshaber was awarded an extra $1,967.10.
There is nothing in the verdict form that gives any reason or rational for this conclusion.
A memo from Maura Kiefer, IRB city attorney, to the mayor and city commission advising of the court’s action said, in reference to the offset amount awarded Grieshaber, “It does not appear that the jury truly considered the facts, issues and laws in this case.”
That comment stemmed from Kiefer’s observation that “It is unclear what the sum of $6,620.70 represents, as that figure is not tied to any evidence presented during the trial, nor was the amount even requested by Mr. Grieshaber for his accrued vacation pay.”
While Kiefer’s memo indicates that the city was considering pursuing motions to reduce the amount awarded to Grieshaber, but other reliable city sources say that the matter will not be pursued. So far there is no indication that Grieshaber will mount an appeal.
The city now faces what may be a monumental task in getting the puny $9,029.35 it was awarded.
Grieshaber’s tenure with the city, beginning in the summer of 2005 and confirmed in a contract early in 2006, was strange and bizarre. He left office in the fall of 2007.
While he was employed by the city, he did a lot of traveling searching, it was documented, for another job. He compiled extraordinary amounts of mileage on a city vehicle as he traveled the length and breadth of central Florida extensively.
At one point he accumulated 5,000 miles in one month on the city vehicle while the usual figures were in thousands of miles.
All of this was reported at length in the Clearwater Gazette when it was happening, the only place, so far as is known, where the information was published.
The Grieshaber tenure was all part of the nightmare that began with the departure of Tom Brobeil as city manager in 2003 and the ascendancy of Bill Ockunzzi in city politics.
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