Last Updated: April 10, 3:30 p.m.
Eight weeks ago a Flagler County circuit judge ordered Dennis McDonald and his attorney each to pay Palm Coast government $15,900 in compensation for legal bills the city incurred to fight off a frivolous suit McDonald had filed in 2013. It was the end result of an 18-month-long wrangle between McDonald and the city that often saw McDonald challenging council members at bi-weekly meetings on a variety of issues.
Neither McDonald nor Knight has paid the debt. The city’s efforts to collect its due are continuing, a city official said Wednesday.
Reached by phone Friday (April 10), McDonald said that he “absolutely” intends to pay. “If the court says I have to pay it, then I have to pay it. I’m not going anywhere, I’m not ducking anybody. It might make the election process upcoming pretty interesting.” Asked what he meant, he went on: “You never know who’s going to run for mayor. I’m not saying that I will but certainly people have been hounding me to do it.”
In late March, McDonald sued Palm Coast again. This time, he is joined in the suit by his wife Janet McDonald, a Flagler County School Board member. While the lawsuit was filed in Flagler County Circuit Court on March 23, it is the result of a two-year-old incident.
McDonald—who initially could not be reached after several calls to his cell phone Wednesday—described the incident in a claims notice filed with the city on Jan. 16, 2014: “My wife and I were walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the bridge on Club House Drive at approximately 7:30 p.m., on March 24, 2013,” he wrote, “when I tripped on a cracked section of sidewalk that was obviously cracked by heavy equipment used to maintain the grassy area adjacent to the sidewalk. The mid-level section of sidewalk is approximately 18 inches wide and 1 ¼ high where I tripped. As a result of falling, I suffered injuries to my left hand, left leg and left shoulder.” Janet McDonald was not physically injured in the incident.
Such claims are covered by the city’s insurance, which is provided by the Florida League of Cities. On Sept. 6, a claims representatives with the league wrote McDonald to inform him that the insurer had completed its investigation. “While we deeply regret this incident occurred,” Katherine Serrano wrote McDonald, “our investigation shows no negligence/liability on the part of the City of Palm Coast.”
The claim for damages was denied.
“It was really gross,” McDonald said Friday of the accidents. “Three fingers were bent back the other way.” He said his fingers were split open and that he required some 30 stitches. Three fingers now don’t function. “I’m a guy who was ambidextrous,” he said. “It was not like it was the end of the world but I used to be able to use both of my hands, to write or to do anything.” Within a short time after the incident, the city fixed the sidewalk, McDonald said.
McDonald then hired personal injury lawyer Ward Berg of New Smyrna Beach, and filed the lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000. The suit claims that Palm Coast “created the dangerous and hazardous conditions” that led to McDonald’s injuries and cites two counts—negligence and “loss of consortium,” a frequent addition to such claims when a spouse is involved.
The injuries McDonald suffered, as cited in the wording of the lawsuit, are far more extensive (though also more abstract) than the ones McDonald himself had described in his claim to the insurer, going as far as claiming that McDonald suffered “bodily injury, disease and resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life,” medical expenses, and so on, including “permanent scarring or disfigurement.”
The incident and its aftermath coincide with a period when McDonald appeared at almost every city and county government meeting to provide public and sustained critiques of numerous policies, when he ran unsuccessfully in two campaigns for public office along the way—for county commission and for state Senate—and, in the past year, appeared at numerous Flagler County Canvassing Board meetings, all in vigorous form. He filed his first and unrelated lawsuit against the city five months after the sidewalk incident–where he’d alleged that the city was applying its development rules inappropriately along Palm Coast Parkway. That’s the suit a circuit judge tossed out as frivolous. McDonald has been distinctly less visible since his wife’s election to the school board.
Janet McDonald is included in the lawsuit in the second count where, as a result of the city’s alleged negligence, she has been “denied the services, attention and consortium” of her husband. “These losses,” the suit claims,” will continue in the future. The language is not unusual in negligence suits.
The city has not yet answered the allegation. Mayor Jon Netts, in a brief interview Tuesday, had not been aware of the lawsuit, though he was familiar with the claim’s history and its denial. On Wednesday, after he said he was surprised by the extent of the injuries described in the lawsuit, but did not address it beyond those terms.
Diana Becker LeBrun says
Omg. It goes on and on.
Lyric McLain Hart says
Michele Muilenburg-Gunther says
He needs to get a LIFE!!!!!
Get a life.
Elda Maria Orozco-Delgado says
WHAT?…How much our community have CHANGE…I remember WHEN 38 years ago…No I-95 no Supermarket, long trip to go Shopping, haven Church at the PC Community Center w/ Father Cody. those were the days ..So Precious ~
There was a I95 38 years ago. It was completed in 1959. FYI. :)
It actually was after 1979.
Charles Gardner says
Long before 79.
Jaii Hein says
I remember no Palm Coast?….progress happens Elda
Kimberly Weiland says
Probably the typical person that would Bit** if there was not a sidewalk!
Abraham Daniel Orozco says
What happen to republicans not liking to waste citizens tax dollars?
Christie Kevin Ogden says
bullcrap so if it has a cracked sidewalkeans u need watch where u going…get a LIFE!! move on sheesh i did tripped on a cracked sidewalk and knowong it my fault for not watching where i walk…sheesh dude seriously..
Nalla C. says
This is the kind of obnoxious citizen that makes it bad for people who have actual, legitimate reasons to sue. There’s got to be a point where these endless harassment lawsuits land this guy in jail.
It’s time to grow up, Mr. McDonald.
And the wife, a co-plaintiff, is a member of our county school board???? I do not want someone like this overseeing the education of our children….we must vote her out!!!!
Diana L. says
I have some concerns about this, also, but, can we really blame her for her husband’s actions?
This is just tooooooo funny and unbelievable. According to Mc he’s practically an invalid from tripping! He sure has been able to get around these last 2 years to appear at the county and city meetings to start lawsuits. Suing cause he can’t “consort” with his wife because of his injuries? That’s BS!!! Those two ought to be ashamed of themselves and to think one was voted into the school board. Hope the school board is well insured, one never knows what can happen down the road.
Triple R says
Define Hypocrite: A member of a group (the Ronald Reagan Republican assembly) that derides people on social welfare as persons who want something for nothing. Who then sues a local government to try to get money for doing nothing.
People like this are one of the reasons taxes are high – money wasted having to defend against stupid people. NO integrity or concern about this community – all about HIM. Move ON.
What a piece of work.
Don't Understand says
I just can’t figure out why someone would sue the city he claims that he wants to help. That’s like hitting your girlfriend while claiming that you love her.
Joe Norton says
Between this guy and Anne-Marie Shaffer they give Washington politics a good image.
When does Janet McDonald come up for election?
Nalla C. says
This is the kind of nonsense which makes it bad for people who have actual, legitimate reasons to sue. There’s got to be a point where these obnoxious and baseless harassment lawsuits land this guy in jail.
It’s time to grow up, Mr. McDonald.
BARRY HARTMANN says
is this clown for real?
joseph Pulitzer says
What a hypocrite! Really this is just another frivolous lawsuit from the biggest sore looser.
Carol Mikola says
If ONLY Palm Coast could have had just one more camera afoot to capture the moment for us all. Will these two ever go away?
Donna Heiss says
So sick of these people. I tripped off a handicap curb of all things, 3 weeks ago. Big gash, still swollen knee. My fault, my problem, I’ll live.
STOP looking for a reason to sue when it was your own damn fault. Go find another city to sue. Yea I said it!
I disagree with Mr. McDonald’s tactics 99% of the time. But one thing is for sure he stated in his suit against the city that the Tree Canopy on Palm Coast Parkway would be destroyed and he was indeed correct. Now all we need are the sign spinners in clown suits to aspire to that Orlando strip mall look.
steve miller says
The city was wrong and is responsible…McDonald is right…pay him the money $15,000 so he can
pay the city back the $15,000 !
Charles Gardner says
That works for me.
Edith Campins says
This frivolous lawsuit of Mr. McDonald’s is going to cost the city many of our hard earned tax payer dollars.
Remember that the next time he runs for public office.
Diane Cocchiola says
This is great! We can use the money McDonald pays in fines for another frivolous lawsuit to build some more sidewalks and add some trees along the newly widened Palm Coast Parkway.
Dennis was and is correct…as we ended up loosing our tree canopy along the new big box mall, the problem is that these county judges don’t there take a stand against city or county government even when the taxpayers and citizens like Dennis have a good reason and basis for the lawsuit.
No matter how his lawsuits will result his wife, Mrs. McDonald will be re-elected to the school board when the time comes, as she won fair an square against Fisher that was not exactly a good example for our students. She is doing a good job in the school board as the honest person and good professional that she is. Is time that we stop electing some of our representatives with shady backgrounds or too many bad connections.
I am very glad that this man is standing up to these jokers masquerading as leaders of the community. Portions of the present and pretty much all of the previous town council have done considerable damage to the economic viability of this city. To those who are slamming this man you probably have not been paying attention to the lack of prosperity in this city/county. So for me to provide a list of issues would be meaningless, you wouldn’t or won’t see them even if they were in front of your face. And they are in front of your face. Most of you are rejoicing over the fact that McDonald has to pay Palm Coast some $15,000 when you probably don’t utter a peep while this city’s administrators are throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through mismanagement and sucking millions out of this economy with that red light camera extortion. Their ineptness should be a criminal offense.
Why is McDonald being asked to repay the city when his tax dollars initally were paid to the city to begin with and he had representation? If he does get a settlement it will be paid from insurance with the League of City, not with tax payers money. Landon should personally be held responsible for failing to do his job-the opportunity for an injury should never have been available. Wake up Landon!!!!
Edith Campins says
Mr. Mc Donald lost his lawsuit because he had no real basis for suing. The judge in his remarks made it clear that McDonald and his lawyer didn’t have a leg to stand on. Their incompetence cost all US, the taxpayers.
The facts that he is again instituting a frivolous lawsuit shows his lack of regard for the taxpayers. He is using us as pawns in his petty battles with the city.
Neither lawsuit will accomplish anything in regards to Mr. Landon, the waste brought about by elected officiials or broken sidewalks anywhere.. This lawsuit is purely for the personal benefit of Mr. McDonald.