Three Years On, Palm Coast Resident Sues Sheriff’s Office Over Wreck With Patrol Car
FlaglerLive | June 1, 2016
John Mitchell, a 43-year-old resident of Eric Drive in Palm Coast, is suing the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office for more than $15,000 on a negligence claim resulting from a t-bone wreck involving deputy James Gore in 2013.
Gore, according to a crash report, was responding to a call with his emergency lights activated when he approached the intersection of Pine Lakes Parkway and Palm Coast Parkway. Gore was heading south. The light was red. He drove through the intersection.
Mitchell was driving a GMC Envoy XL SUV, traveling east on Palm Coast Parkway. His SUV struck Gore’s patrol vehicle, a 2008 Crown Victoria, on the passenger side. Gore, who’d been with the agency about two years at the time–he’s still with the agency–was not seriously hurt. A Florida Highway Patrol investigator estimated that both vehicles had been traveling at about 33 miles per hour at the time of the collision, and that Mitchell applied the brakes just before crossing the stop bar on Palm Coast Parkway. A red-light camera video, then in place, assisted in the investigation of the wreck. The crash report was conducted by FHP.
Mitchell had initially been reported by a deputy at the scene to have had minor injuries. But the crash report listed his injuries as “incapacitating.” He was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler.
The lawsuit, filed on May 19 in Flagler County Circuit Court, charges that Gore failed to “reasonably and operate” his vehicle to avoid a collision, did not follow applicable traffic laws or maintain “proper lookout,” nor maintain a safe speed as he proceeded through the intersection–language commonly used in such auto negligence lawsuits. The complaint also claims he committed “other acts of negligence yet to be determined.”
As a result of the wreck, the suit claims, Mitchell suffered bodily and mental injuries and money, and the wreck aggravated a previously existing condition. “The losses are either permanent or continuing,” the suit claims, while Mitchell’s wife Holly is cited as having lost “care, companionship, society, comfort and services of her husband” as a result. Holly is named as a co-plaintiff.
Mitchell is represented by Robert McLeod and Seth Dempsey of the McLeod Firm in St. Augustine–not usually a remarkable detail in such suits but for this: McLeod is also the attorney representing Linda Bolante, Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre’s ex-finance director, in her more high-profile whistle-blower suit against the sheriff. That suit, filed two years ago, is ongoing. Both suits are being heard by Circuit Judge Scott Dupont.