Cruise Line Left Man to Die, Husband Claims

     MIAMI (CN) – The husband of a man who died after falling overboard during a 2015 Royal Caribbean cruise claims in court that the line made no effort to try to save him or even recover his body.     In a federal complaint filed Tuesday in Miami, Erik Elbaz says, even before the tragedy that occurred on Nov. 6, 2015, employees of the cruise line had subjected him and his husband, Bernardo Texeira Garcia, to repeated homophobic taunts and slurs.     According to the complaint, the couple boarded the Royal Caribbean vessel Oasis of the Seas on Oct. 31, 2015, and were almost immediately forced to deal with offensive remarks and other behavior from the cruise line’s staff.     Elbaz says complaints about the behavior to the offending employees’ supervisors did nothing.     The situation came to a horrible climax on Nov. 5, 2015, Elbaz says, when one of Royal Caribbean’s employees called Garcia a “pedophile.”     Elbaz says that when he and his husband returned to their stateroom, Garcia was very upset about the discriminatory and offensive insults to which they’d been subjected.     A short time later, the complaint says, security officers arrived at the couple’s stateroom, threatening to arrest Garcia.     After arguing with the officers, Elbaz says, a distraught Garcia fell from the stateroom, which was located on deck 7 and landed on life boats a deck below, where he held on for several minutes before plunging into the ocean.     “Several RCCL security officers and/or crewmembers grabbed Mr. Garcia by his arms and had a hold of him for several minutes, but ultimately failed to secure and rescue him from falling overboard,” the complaint says.     Elbaz says watched in horror as Garcia fell 55 feet into the cold and dark ocean.     He claims he begged the Royal Caribbean officials to stop the ship and rescue Garcia, but they failed to help and only told him to “calm down.”     “Royal Caribbean failed to deploy lifeboats within a reasonable time and failed to promptly stop and/or return the ship around,” Elbaz says.     The U.S. Coast Guard performed a search-and-rescue operation after being notified by Royal Caribbean, but Garcia’s body was never found.     The complaint says that there have been about 16 incidents of passengers falling overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships between 2000 and 2015, and out of those 16, only three have survived.     Elbaz seeks compensatory damages on claims of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the High Seas Act.     He is represented by Michael Winkleman from Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman.     Royal Caribbean Cruises failed to respond to an emailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

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Man Says Cops Beat Him Over Radio Mishap

     (CN) – A black Miami Beach man claims in court that he was racially profiled, beat up and falsely arrested by three police officials all because he accidentally turned up the volume of his car radio after being asked to turn it down.     As recounted in a complaint filed in Miami-Dade County on Oct. 13, Bernard Williams was driving “in a normal and safe fashion” in heavy traffic in Miami Beach on May 26, 2013, when was approached by three police officers — defendants Leon Azicri, James Nolan and Charles Weiss — who ordered him to turn down his radio.     “Williams lowered the volume, but in the process of reaching for the volume control, he accidentally hit it so that the volume was actually turned up for a brief moment before he could lower it,” the complaint says.     Williams says that even though he had done nothing wrong Officer Azicri became aggravated, and told him “put the fucking car in park, you are going to jail.”     He alleges that after he parked his vehicle and as he was undoing his seatbelt, Officer Weiss grabbed his neck, “yanked him out of the car, spun him around, and, without provocation, smashed his face into the roof of his vehicle, causing him to lose a dental cap.”     The police officers continued the assault on Williams by punching and kicking his torso, and slamming him to the ground, the complaint says.     Williams says that even though he begged the officers to stop and screamed in pain, they ignored his pleadings and told him “your black ass is faking nigger.”     Williams says that after he was handcuffed and placed in a transport van, he told the police officers he had a surgically repaired shoulder, but the officers ignored his pleas and continued to punch him about the face and shoulders.     According to the complaint, the police officers also damaged Williams’ vehicle by being purposefully heavy-handed while performing a search.     Williams was charged with a noise ordinance violation and resisting arrest with violence, but both charges were later dropped.     Williams says after he was released from custody, he went to the police station to file a complaint against the officers, only to have the harassment from them resume.     He claims that Nolan blew a kiss at him when he first saw him, and then he returned with Weiss and other officers who surrounded him.     Williams says Nolan tried to intimate him by telling him. “pussy boy, you fuck ass nigger, you’re talking to IA, I will fuck you up.”     Williams says that he tried to evade the officers, but they followed him outside and called him a “nigger” and told him “we don’t tolerate mother fuckers talking to IA.”     “Williams sustained multiple injuries as a result of the unwarranted beating, and emotional damage as a result of the fear, racial profiling, and intimidation levied upon him by the officers,” the complaint says.     He seeks compensatory damages on claims of false arrest and imprisonment, excessive force and battery.     He is represented by Michael Feiler from Feiler & Leach PL in Coral Gables, Fla.     Melissa Berthier, the Public Relations Manager for the City of Miami Beach, said that the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.

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Broadcasters Say Soccer Bribes Shut Them Out

     (CN) – Two broadcasters who televise soccer claim in court that a sports marketing firm and Fox Sports Latin America bribed Conmebol to obtain the exclusive broadcast rights to the international soccer club’s tournaments.     In a complaint filed in the federal court in Miami on Oct. 20, GolTV and Global Sports Partners claim that between 2000 and 2015 T&T Sports Marketing paid tens of millions of dollars to corrupt Conmebol directors for the exclusive lucrative rights to televise “Copa Libertadores de America,” “the Copa Sudamericana” and the “Recopa.”     Conmebol is one of the oldest recognized soccer confederations, and it is “exclusively authorized by FIFA to direct and control football in the region,” the complaint says.     Conmebol is comprised of ten national soccer federations from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.     T&T Sports Marketing is based in the Cayman Islands and has no known employees or offices. According to the complaint, an entity called Pan American Sports Enterprises is its majority owner, holding a 75-percent interest, while defendant Torneos y Competencias SA owns the other 25 percent of the company.     Defendant Alejandro Burzaco, Jose Margulies and Conmebol directors Luis Bedoya and Sergio Jadue have pled guilty to their involvement with the bribery scheme.     GolTV and Global Sports say that other Fox units and executives, including the current President of Fox Networks Groups Latin America, Carlos Martinez, also participated in the fraud to make sure that T&T Marketing obtained the rights to the tournaments and sublicensed them to Fox Sports Latin America.     “On several occasions, plaintiffs offered Conmebol substantially more for the television rights to air the Club Tournaments than the amounts T&T paid or offered to Conmebol for those rights,” the complaint says.     According to the complaint, Conmebol, who has the exclusive right to award the television rights for the club tournaments, frequently rejected GolTV and Global Sports’ superior offers even though its directors were obligated to obtain the best and most lucrative terms.     “The Copa Libertadores has been among the most widely watched sporting events in the world. The Copa Libertadores has been telecast in more than 135 countries, and, in 2009 and 2010, drew more than one billion viewers,” the complaint says.     GolTV and Global Sports allege that from 1999 till 2015, T&T Marketing acquired the exclusive television rights to the Copa Libertadores, and from 2002 through 2015 the rights to the Copa Sudamericana.     They claim that starting in the year 2000 for approximately 10 years Luis Nofal, one of the founders of the tournaments, paid $1 million in annual bribes to Conmebol president, Nicolas Leoz, and $600,000 to Conmebol directors Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Deluca and Romer Osuna.     In return Conmebol granted the Club Tournaments television rights to T&T Marketing, and refused to sell such rights to GolTV.     GolTV says that in 2010 it offered Conmebol $270 million for the television rights to the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana for the years 2011-2014.     However, Conmebol rejected GolTV’s offer and accepted $164 million from T&T Marketing for the same years.     The complaint claims that in 2002 Fox partnered with T&T Marketing and agreed to bribe Conmebol’s directors.     In 2002 Fox Pan American doing business as Fox Sports Latin America acquired 50 percent of T&T Marketing, and in 2005 it acquired an additional 25 percent share.     The complaint says that in 2009 a group of six presidents of “less-powerful” member associations of Conmebol demanded annual bribe payments to support T&T Marketing, and defendant Alejandro Burzaco agreed to pay them six-figure bribes.     “To disguise its bribe payments to Conmebol’s directors in connection with the Copa Libertadores and other tournaments, T&T Marketing and Fox agreed that T&T would enter into consulting contracts with various financial intermediaries, such as companies owned by Jose Margulies, Hugo Jinkins and Mariano Jinkins,” the complaint says.     The complaint also claims that T&T Marketing used wire facilities and several financial institutions in the United States to make and receive bribe payments and transfers.     GolTV and Global Sports seek compensatory damages on claims of violations of the RICO Act, the Sherman Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, tortious interference and civil conspiracy.     They are represented by Thomas McCormack from Chadbourne & Parke LLP in New York and Peter Levitt from Shutts & Bowen in Miami, Fla.     Jonathan Bing, a Fox Networks Group spokesperson, called the lawsuit “an entirely meritless claim.”     In a statement to Courthouse News, Bing said, “Fox had no operational control over any of the entities named in the FIFA indictment, and no Fox employees were implicated. As for GolTV, it has been attempting without success to challenge the award of rights to Fox that were negotiated after the FIFA indictment, with full transparency to Conmebol. This lawsuit will fail just as GolTV’s previous efforts have failed.”

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College Athlete Says Coach Pursued Her for Sex

     (CN) – A college student athlete who played for the women’s basketball team at Florida International University claims in court that she was sexually harassed and threatened by her coach.     In a federal complaint filed Oct. 13, Destini Feagin says that between April 2015 and March 2016, her coach, Marlin Chinn, engaged in constant contact with members of the basketball team during daily practices and social gatherings, and frequently contacted team members after hours.     As the head coach of FIU’s women’s basketball team, Feagin claims that Chinn controlled the team’s membership, players’ positions, playing time and he had the power to grant or deny scholarships to members of the team.     “On multiple occasions, Chinn made unwanted and unwelcome verbal and/or physical sexual advances toward plaintiff individually,” the complaint says.     Feagin claims Chinn began sexually harassing her in June 2015, when he told her that “a little birdie told me that you like older men.”     Chinn then named Feagin the team’s captain and the face of the team on promotional materials used by the University, the complaint says.     Feagin alleges that the sexual harassment continued when Chinn began asking her about her love life, and he “advised her of the techniques she should be familiar with in order to please a man, which included being open-minded, performing oral sex and massages and cooking good meals.”     On December 2015, Feagin says that Chinn loaned her $600 to pay the fees for her remedial academic sessions, and after she thanked him for his help he told her “you’re going to pay me back, trust me.”     According to the complaint, on January 2016 Chinn told Feagin that he was having sexual fantasies about her, and that he wanted to have a sexual relationship with her.     “… During an away game in which the team was staying at a hotel, Chinn called plaintiff in her hotel room and tried to convince her to come to his hotel room under the pretense of discussing basketball,” the complaint says.     Feagin claims that Chinn also made constant sexual comments about her and touched her buttocks in the presence of assistant coaches during basketball games.     She claims that in February 2016, Chinn asked her to come to his office and when they were alone he hugged her, kissed her neck and touched her private parts without her consent.     Feagin says later that month, Chinn threatened to remove her from the team because she used a teammate’s university meal card without permission, and “explicitly advised her that she would have to have sex with him whether she was on the team or not, but that it might be more appropriate if the player/coach relationship was terminated.”     The complaint says Chinn eventually revealed he was married and that he had a child on the way, but that he was “putting everything on the line because of how I feel about you,” and he told her that his family had a history of affairs, that it “was in the Chinn blood.”     Feagin she reported Chinn’s sexual harassment to university president Mark Rosenberg and Julie Berg, the senior associate athletic director, and that she showed them texts and played them an audio recording on which he coach allegedly talks of his desire to have sex with her.     “FIU responded to plaintiff’s complaints by retaliating against her by immediately cutting plaintiff from the Basketball Team,” the complaint says.     FIU allowed Chinn to continue his duties as head coach despite Feagin’s complaints of sexual harassment, and only after the story was reported in the media he was terminated.     Feagin alleges FIU discriminated against her after she complained of Chinn’s harassment, and that as the spring graduation approached the university had not reached any decision regarding her case.     Feagin seeks compensatory damages on claims of sexual discrimination, battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent retention.     She is represented by Stuart Kaplan from Kaplan Sconzo & Parker PA in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.     Maydel Santana, a spokeswoman for Florida International University, said the university does not comment on ongoing litigation.

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Al Gore Touts Clinton’s Green Creds in Miami

          (CN) – Al Gore laid out the environmental stakes of the 2016 race for the White House on Tuesday, telling attendees of a Hillary Clinton rally in Miami that electing Donald Trump would lead to “climate catastrophe.”     Gore, who has been an environmental and climate change activist since serving as vice president during President Bill Clinton’s eight years in White House, was in Miami to vouch for Hillary Clinton’s dedication to the climate change and renewable energy causes, and to appeal to millennials and other young people who consider global warming a critical issue.     “The choice in this election is extremely clear. Hillary Clinton will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority,” Gore said over the sustained applause of the 1,600 in attendance.     “Her opponent, based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe,” he said.     More than advocate for a position, however, Gore’s presence alongside Clinton was also a potent reminder of the importance of every single vote.     Few in the crowd could fail to remember the role Florida played in George W. Bush ultimately securing the presidency in 2000.     Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, but lost the presidency to Bush after a lengthy Florida recount and a stunning Supreme Court decision that ultimately forced the Democrat to concede.     “Your vote really, really, really counts,” he told the crowd. “You can consider me as an exhibit A for that.”     It responded with a spirited chant of “You won! You Won!”          During her remarks, Clinton stressed her plans to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuel, develop more renewable energy — an initiative that is also a key part of her economic plan — and to build more energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure.     She also lambasted her GOP opponent, reminding her audience that Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and promised he would renegotiate the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, an international treaty designed to curb the rise in global temperatures.     “We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House,” Clinton said.     “I wish that Donald would listen to people here in Florida who are doing work against climate change crisis,” she added as dozens of Trump supporters protested outside of the college venue.     Neither Clinton nor Gore neglected to mention Hurricane Matthew, which threatened Florida last week.     “Hurricane Matthew went up from tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane in just 36 hours due to climate change. Waters in the Caribbean are warmer than usual,” Gore said.     Clinton also tied climate change to the spread of the Zika virus in the Miami area, and to sea level rise, noting both are costing the city and state and considerable about of money.     On Monday, for instance, the Florida Department of Health announced it will allocate $7.4 million to fight the mosquito-borne virus in Miami-Dade County.     “The changing climate conditions cause the mosquitoes to reproduce faster and spread the disease quicker,” Gore said.     Among the enthusiastic attendees at the rally was Miguel Zamudio, an honor student at Miami-Dade College.          “I stand here today proud to support a candidate that I know understands and advocates for the issues that I hold dear to my heart,” Zamudio said. “Issues like immigration reform, climate change and better access for all to a quality education.”     Zamudio, who serves on the student government at his college, urged other young people in attendance to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election.     “Please make sure that you and your friends, your family, your barber… register to vote,” he said.     At the end of his speech, Gore encouraged voters to participate in early voting, which begins in Miami-Dade County on October 24.     “Let’s make Hillary Clinton president,” he said.     After the rally, Clinton met privately with the Latin Builders Association, the nation’s largest Hispanic Construction group, who for the first time in its history endorsed a Democrat candidate.     She then made an unannounced stop at the Overtown Youth Center, where she was joined by former Miami Heat player Alonzo Mourning and his wife.     Photo caption:     Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, accompanied by former Vice President Al Gore, left, takes the stage for a rally at Miami Dade College in Miami, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)          Additional photos by Monica Pais

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Heat’s Bosch Said to Stiff Interior Designer

     (CN) – The Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh stiffed an interior design company for more than $2 million for services rendered at his off-season home in Texas, the company claims in court.     In a complaint filed in the federal court in Miami, MJB Design Group Inc. claims that Chris Bosh and his wife, Adrienne Bosh, hired it to select designs and oversee other details related to an interior renovation of their Texas property.     MJB Design Group says the Boshes agreed to pay it for all the services and materials provided during the remodeling process, and to cover any fees related to its work.     Bosh, who has been in the NBA for 13 years, was diagnosed with blood clots in 2015, and has been sidelined ever since.     On Friday, the Miami Heat’s doctors said they are unable to clear him to play during the upcoming 2016-2017 season.     According to the Sept. 20 complaint, Bosh and his wife own real estate in California, Texas and Florida.     After being contracted to work on the Texas home, MJB says its services were also retained to provide similar services at the couple’s Miami home.     MJB Design Group claims the Boshes failed to make prompt selections of materials related to the construction of the Texas house causing the builder, Windrush Custom Homes Inc., to allege default for construction delays.     “In an attempt to resolve the alleged construction delays, the Boshes and Windrush decided hiring a Miami-based interior design company would be more convenient for the Boshes and facilitate the selection process,” the complaint says.     MJB says that the Boshes contracted its services on January 2015, and that they wanted to complete the construction of the Texas property on or before May 1, 2016.     The complaint alleges that on November 24, 2015, and again on March 28, 2016, the Dallas Morning News published stories stating that Hillwood Communities had purchased two expanses — 400 and 244 acres, respectively — in the Colin County town of Celina, near the Boshes’ property.     The developer planned to construct a luxury home community on the adjoining sites.     The complaint says because of the project, “a six-lane highway will be constructed through the Boshes’ property to control traffic to and from the neighboring communities,” and that their property may be subject to eminent domain proceedings to accommodate the new highway.     “The Boshes knew or should have know that this new development and six-lane highway would negatively impact the Property’s monetary value based on the lower median home values and impact of potential eminent domain proceedings,” the complaint says.     MJB claims that between December 2015 and February 2016, Windrush sent the Boshes two letters of default alleging that the construction of the property had not been completed due to their unreasonable delays.     The Boshes denied being in default, and claimed Windrush vacated the on-site field office and that its notices of default were a “smokescreen” created to purport a breach of the contract to collect liquidated damages under the “construction agreement,” the complaint says.     MJB says on July 8, 2016, the Boshes claimed Windrush had taken control of more than $7 million destined for the construction of their house.     However during a project meeting on August 3, 2016, Windrush said the Boshes were out of money for the project, and that they had not received payments for over 18 months.     MJB claims that due to the alleged defaults and disagreements between the Boshes and Windrush, it expended substantial time and resources during meetings revising timelines for selections.     After providing the Boshes with all requested invoices for the services provided, MJB says that they refused to pay the amounts due, and directed it to cease its interior design services for their house in Texas.     The complaint says during one meeting with the couple, on Aug. 11, 2016, “the Boshes notified MJB that the project was draining money, no longer a priority, and that the constant stress and problems associated therewith were negatively affecting C. Bosh’s overall health.”     Then on August 30, Adrienne Bosh posted on her Instagram and Twitter accounts a picture of renovation work in their Malibu’s property done by another interior design company, the complaint says,     MJB claims the Boshes and their legal counsel, Lawrence Barbara, interfered with their business relationships.     The company seeks compensatory damages on claims of breach of agreements, unjust enrichment, fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation.     It is represented by Andrew Roth in Miami Beach.     The Boshes and their assistants did not respond to an email request for comment on the pending litigation.     

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Court Worker Says Firing Was Religious Bias

     (CN) – A longtime employee of the Broward County Clerk of Courts claims in court that she was fired for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.     In a complaint filed in the federal court in Miami, Yanicka Parker says she worked in the clerk’s office for 12 years before Florida lifted its ban for same sex marriages on January 6, 2015.     Parker also notes that throughout her years in the clerk’s office, she worshiped at the Faith Deliverance Tabernacle in Fort Lauderdale — and is now, in fact, a minister — and firmly believes that “God will judge individual Christians, as well as the society of which they are a part, who condone or institute same sex marriages.”     As described in the Sept. 9 complaint, Parker received an email from     Parker claims that a few days before the new regulation took effect, she received an email from Broward County Clerk of Courts Howard Forman, informing her that all clerks were expected to issue marriage licenses and perform ceremonies for same sex couples.     “Ms. Parker immediately informed her supervisors that due to her religion beliefs she would not be able to perform same sex marriages,” the complaint says.     Parker says she asked Forman for an accommodation on Jan. 6, 2015, that would allow her to continue to perform her other job duties without issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples or performing marriage ceremonies for them.     But Parker claims Forman refused to even consider her request, despite the fact there were six other clerks and supervisors who could handle the same-sex marriage responsibilities of the office.     Instead, the complaint says, Forman suspended her for two days, and then fired her when she returned.     “Defendant Forman committed an unlawful employment practice to the detriment of plaintiff when he discharged the plaintiff, or otherwise discriminated against her with respect to her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of her religion,” the complaint says.     Parker is seeking compensatory damages on claims of religious discrimination.     She is represented by Todd Shulby from Weston, Fla.     Iris Siple, the chief administrator for the Broward County’s Clerk of Court’s Office, declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

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