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.

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.

Football is a dangerous sport, but it’s not often that we hear about a player who got a season-ending injury on the sideline — or that a player is suing after sustaining a mid-game injury. But, that’s what happened with the case of Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick.

What happened, and why does Patrick think the NFL and other parties need to be held accountable?

What Happened on the Sideline?

On October 17, 2022, Monday Night Football featured the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were the away team, playing the Chargers on their home field at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The game was close and went into overtime.

During a punt return, Aaron Patrick, a 25-year-old linebacker for the Broncos, attempted to make a tackle on punt returner DeAndre Carter. He ran quickly toward Carter and pushed him out of bounds. As the play ended, Patrick’s momentum carried him into the sideline area. He tried to avoid an NFL official, stepped on mats that covered cords and cables, and fell. Video captured the incident.

According to the New York Post, Patrick says his foot got tangled in the mats and cords. It caused Patrick to fall, bend his knee awkwardly, and tear his ACL.

The injury was season-ending and led to Patrick being placed on injury reserve — and filing a civil lawsuit.

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

Why Did Patrick File a Civil Lawsuit?

Patrick sustained a season-ending injury when he fell on the sideline. Based on his contract, he could lose thousands of dollars because of the injury.

“Patrick has what is called a ‘split contract,’ which means his $825,000 base salary is reduced to under $500,000 if he suffers an injury that prevents him from playing,” according to ESPN.

Patrick’s civil personal injury lawsuit alleges that the injury limited his earning power. According to his contract, he could lose roughly $325,000.

The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California and names the NFL, the Rams, the Chargers, SoFi Stadium, ESPN, and several others, including Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Rams and the stadium. It alleges that the defendants were negligent in creating a safe space for players.

Patrick’s agent, Lamont Smith told Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, “I was very disturbed about the way the injury occurred with the carpet being on the sideline like that. His cleat got lodged in the carpet trying to avoid the media person.”

“Player safety should be the foremost of importance to the NFL and its owners. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar sports enterprise and business, and it needs to do everything possible to protect its players from non-contact game injuries,” Patrick’s attorney, William M. Berman said in a statement.

The lawsuit requested unspecified damages, which includes future earning potential and lost bonuses, and requested a jury trial.

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

Does Patrick Have a Case?

It isn’t common to see an NFL player sue immediately after an injury sustained during a game. So, does Patrick have a case?

To prove fault in personal injury, Patrick must:

  • Prove the accident was caused by another party. Patrick would need to show that the defendants’ negligence directly led to his sideline fall.
  • Prove the accident led to injury. Patrick will need to show that his season-ending injury is a direct result of the sideline accident.
  • Prove the accident led to damages. Patrick will need to show how he experienced physical, financial, and emotional losses due to the accident.

Details of Patrick’s contract indicate that he could lose roughly $325,000 because the injury led to his season being cut short. The jury will determine if the defendants are responsible for creating an unsafe space that led to Patrick’s injury. They will also decide how much Patrick is due based on physical, financial, and emotional losses caused by the injury.

Related: Personal Injury Compensation: What Can You Fight For?

Find a Personal Injury to Fight for You

If the negligence of another party limits your earning potential, you have a legal right to fight for damages. If you find yourself at a loss due to the negligence of another party, talk to a personal injury attorney right away. Work with a personal injury lawyer who can fight to get what is owed to you.

TJ Grimaldi is an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for you — and only accept payment if you win your case. See how TJ can help you make a claim to get what is legally owed to you. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Alec Baldwin Rust Shooting Update

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

It’s been more than a year since actor Alec Baldwin fired a gun on the set of the movie Rust and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Since then, there have been multiple investigations and lawsuits.

What’s the status of each case, and what does it mean for the shooter?

The Shooting

October 21, 2021, was a fairly normal day on the set of the movie Rust. The crew was filming on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico and preparing for a scene which featured a close-up of Baldwin drawing a .45 revolver from a shoulder holster. According to reports, the movie’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, called out “cold gun” and handed the revolver to Baldwin, who is a star of the movie and also one of its producers.

Baldwin moved to practice the cross-draw motion, and the gun went off.

It discharged live ammunition that hit Halyna Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer, and Joel Souza, the movie’s director. Hutchins died from her injuries.

The Script Supervisor’s Civil Lawsuit

In November 2021, the first legal action over the shooting took place. The movie’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the producers of the film, including Mr. Baldwin, and several members of its crew.

The lawsuit claims assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm, and requested unspecified damages. As reported by the New York Times, the lawsuit said, “Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm.”

The case is weaving its way through the court system (more on its status later in this post).

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: See If You Have a Claim   

The Hutchins’ Family Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In February 2022, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, against Baldwin, the film’s production companies, its producers, and other key members of the crew. It alleged numerous industry-standard violations, according to reports.

In October 2022, the family reached a settlement. While all the details haven’t been released, Halyna Hutchins’s husband Matthew Hutchins shared some of the details of the settlement in a statement.

Matthew Hutchins indicated that the wrongful death case will be dismissed, filming of the movie will resume, and he will now serve as an executive producer, which means he will receive a portion of the film’s profits.

As for assigning blame to Baldwin, Matthew Hutchins said, “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame.”

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

The Criminal Investigation

In October 2022, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department said it completed its criminal investigation into the shooting. It delivered its investigative report but didn’t publicly disclose whether it had recommended charges be filed.

According to Forbes, it’s now up to New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and her team to decide whether or not to bring charges. It was reported that the New Mexico Board of Finance granted the DA’s office over $300,000 to be used to possibly prosecute up to four people.

At this time, no charges have been filed.

Related: Will Alec Baldwin Face Criminal Charges in Movie Set Shooting?   

The Baldwin Cross-Complaint

In November 2022, Baldwin filed his own lawsuit related to the shooting. He filed a cross-complaint to the lawsuit filed by script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell.

According to reports, the cross-complaint is against the production’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, assistant director David Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, armorer assistant Seth Kenney, and the prop weapon and ammunition supply store company Kenney owns.

All four of the individuals included in the cross-complaint were also named as defendants, along with Baldwin, in Mitchell’s lawsuit. Baldwin’s cross-complaint says Baldwin is being seen as the “perpetrator of this tragedy,” and it was filed to “clear” Baldwin’s name.

It outlines what Baldwin’s team believes is the misconduct of others on the set. The lawsuit says, “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun, Gutierrez Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her.”

Baldwin is suing for damages and asking for indemnification from legal damages that might arise from Mitchell’s case. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in Mitchell’s original lawsuit as well as Baldwin’s cross-complaint.

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

Have a Trusted Attorney by Your Side

One incident can lead to a variety of lawsuits and investigations. If you are involved in a legal matter, make sure you have an attorney by your side who can handle whatever issues come your way.

To talk to an attorney who can fight for you on civil or criminal charges. Schedule a free call with attorney TJ Grimaldi to see how he can help you navigate complex legal challenges. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen Get Divorced

Photo by Aurore Marechal/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

After weeks of speculation, it turned out the rumors were true. Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen were getting a divorce.

Once the couple announced the news, it was over fast. The divorce was filed and finalized. How did the famous couple expedite their divorce and get through the process so quickly?

A Quick Brady-Bündchen History

Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have both created fame and wealth in their own right. Brady is hailed as the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, having won seven Super Bowls and earned a net worth of $250 million. Bündchen is one of the highest-paid supermodels in the world with an estimated net worth of $400 million.

The couple married in 2009 and grew their celebrity and wealth during their 13 years of marriage. But in 2022, their romance came to an end.

Related: What Would a Tom Brady / Gisele Bundchen Divorce Look Like?

Bündchen Hired Divorce Attorneys

On October 4, 2022, PEOPLE reported that Bündchen hired divorce lawyers. Bündchen and Brady reportedly had problems after Brady retired and then un-retired from the NFL.

Bündchen took the first step in ending the marriage by meeting with divorce attorneys in Florida.

When a spouse has their first meeting with a divorce attorney, they are either thinking about filing for divorce or they have been served with divorce papers. During the first meeting with a divorce attorney, the spouse begins to make a divorce plan. They review:

  • Financial information such as bank statements, credit card statements, account information, tax returns, and loan documents
  • Identification for any children involved
  • A list of assets and debts
  • A timeline of the marriage
  • Any prenuptial agreement documentation

From there, the divorce process is usually officially started.

Brady Hired Divorce Attorneys

Just one day after Bündchen hired divorce attorneys, it was reported that Brady did the same. Brady wasn’t served with divorce papers, but he retained his own representation in anticipation of the pending divorce.

If Brady had been served with divorce papers, he would have had 20 days to take the next step. In Florida, after divorce papers are served, you have up to 20 days to file an answer which presents your side of the case.

But, Bündchen didn’t file for divorce on her own or serve Brady with divorce papers. Instead, the couple filed for divorce together.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida 

Brady and Bündchen Filed for Divorce Together

On October 28, 2022, Bündchen and Brady filed and finalized a petition for the dissolution of marriage together in Florida.

Because Bündchen and Brady filed for divorce together, neither party needed to be served with divorce papers or file an answer. The divorce was considered “uncontested,” and it didn’t need to go through the court system.

Contested divorces, when parties don’t agree on the terms of the divorce, can lead to meditation and even a trial which can take months or even years to resolve. But, Bündchen and Brady avoided the lengthy divorce legal process.

According to reports, their petition for the dissolution of their marriage noted that the couple had “entered into a marital settlement agreement three days earlier,” which is said to have included a “parenting plan.” By having this agreement, the couple was able to file and finalize their divorce on the same day.

The details of their agreement haven’t been revealed publicly, but it’s been speculated that the couple had a prenuptial agreement that made their divorce easier to finalize. The agreement would have included arrangements for:

  • Asset and liability distribution. The couple would have had a plan to break up their assets, property, and debt. They would have broken up their wealth and large properties, such as the three homes they own together.
  • Alimony. The couple would have determined whether or not one of them would receive spousal support.
  • Child support. The couple shares two minor children (Benjamin Rein, 12, and Vivian, 9) and also co-parent Brady’s son with his ex (John Edward, 15). They would need to determine if one party should provide child support payments to the other.
  • Child custody. Additionally, the couple would need to determine the type of child custody agreement and set guidelines for how much parenting time each would get with the children.

Had Bündchen and Brady not had a prenuptial agreement, they could have gone through divorce mediation to create an agreement to speed up their divorce. But, it likely would have taken longer than the process set in motion by having a prenup.

Bündchen and Brady were able to quickly get through the divorce process and finalize it within a few months of deciding to split, likely due to having a detailed prenup they agreed upon before they got married in 2009.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

Find a Divorce Attorney in Florida

With the right planning and divorce attorney by your side, you can get through your divorce with less stress on everyone involved. If you need advice about how to best navigate an upcoming split, contact TJ Grimaldi today.

TJ can help you determine the best path for you and your family while ensuring that you get what is owed to you. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today to talk with TJ.

Alex Jones to Pay $965 Million

(Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool)

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is a polarizing figure who has been accused of many things. But recently, he was accused of something that led a court to order him to pay almost a billion dollars to his victims.

What led the court to order Alex Jones to pay $965 million, and will he pay it?

Why Was Alex Jones on Trial?

Alex Jones is a radio host who runs media channels that share content heavily based on conspiracy theories. At one point, his most popular show and website, Infowars, was reported to receive about 10 million monthly visits.

One of the conspiracy theories Jones shared most on Infowars was related to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The mass shooting led to the death of 26 people, including 20 children and six educators.

Jones regularly stated on his show that the shooting was a hoax and that the people involved — parents and families of the victims and an FBI agent who was one of the first responders on the scene — were hired “crisis” actors.

Jones’ audience grew as he spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shooting — and according to people involved, it also led to emotional agony for the families of the victims.

In 2018, multiple families filed defamation suits against Jones and Infowars’ parent company Free Speech Systems. The lawsuits alleged that the parties spread conspiracy theories about the shooting to grow their audience and make millions of dollars in the process.

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

Was Jones Found Liable?

The defamation suit, filed in Connecticut civil court, included multiple families of Sandy Hook victims. Relatives of five children and three educators were involved. There were originally three cases filed in Connecticut, but they were combined into one case.

All of the families shared similar stories. Families said they were threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the shooting was a hoax. The abuse took place in person with people showing up at their homes. They also received online harassment and abusive comments.

One parent said a conspiracy theorist went as far as urinating on his son’s grave and threatening to dig up the coffin. The daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed said she received rape threats in the mail.

The family alleged that the conspiracy theorists were motivated by Jones’ allegations that the shooting was a hoax.

Jones was found liable in the case by default. 

Jones failed to cooperate with court orders during the discovery process of the case. He failed to share evidence and turn over records that would have shown the estimated profits made by spreading the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. His lack of engagement led the families to win a default judgment against him.

It was then up to the jury to determine how much Jones would have to pay.

They decided on $965 million.

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

What Led to the $965 Million Verdict?

On October 12, 2022, the jury ordered Jones to pay $965 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs. They also said punitive damages should be awarded. Scheduled hearings in November will determine the amount of punitive damages, according to PBS reporting.

While the jury didn’t say how they came up with the amount, Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, had asked jurors to award at least a half a billion dollars. He said the amount would represent the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook lie allegedly received online.

This $965 verdict comes after a court in Texas recently awarded $50 million in another case against Jones filed by other parents of a Sandy Hook victim. Jones is also facing another lawsuit in Texas related to the shooting.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

So, Will Jones Have to Pay?

Jones has publicly stated that he believes the Sandy Hook shooting is real, but his statement doesn’t mean he is going to pay up.

In the Texas trial, Jones testified that he could only afford to pay $2 million, even though an economist testified that Jones and his company were likely worth as much as $270 million.

In July 2022, before the verdict in the Connecticut case was reached, the company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy to begin to attempt to protect their assets. On October 22, 2022, Jones asked the Connecticut court to throw out the $965 million verdict and order a new trial.

While families have been offered a win, we will have to wait and see if they receive any of the $965 million awarded to them.

Fight for Your Rights

You have rights, and you deserve an attorney who will fight for them. If you find yourself in a civil or criminal legal matter, talk to attorney TJ Grimaldi to see how he can help you seek justice for you or your loved ones. Call now or schedule your meeting to see how TJ can be a trusted attorney by your side.

TJ stands with the victims of gun violence. TJ is an Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation which provides funds to help kids get what they need in the wake of being directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence. The organization was created to honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, whose life ended in a senseless act of gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can also help victims of gun violence.

Kim Kardashian Instagram Fine

Photo by: zz/John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 10/9/18

Kim Kardashian has 331 million Instagram followers. Every post she shares results in millions of views, likes, and comments. But, why did one of her posts result in a $1.26 million dollar fine?

The Million Dollar Instagram Post

In June 2021, Kim Kardashian shared a post on her Instagram account. It said, “ARE YOU INTO CRYPTO??? THIS IS NOT FINANCIAL ADVICE BUT SHARING WHAT MY FRIENDS JUST TOLD ME ABOUT THE ETHEREUM MAX TOKEN.”

The post included a link to the EthereumMax website which gave users instructions about how to buy crypto tokens. The post also included a hashtag that said “#ad.” It was a paid promotion.

Kardashian was paid $250,000 by EthereumMax, through an intermediary, to publish the post.

Guidelines for how influencers and celebrities can get paid to endorse products and businesses through their social media accounts are set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The rules say accounts getting paid to promote a product or business through their social media account must disclose that they are being paid.

Kardashian appeared to have followed the disclosure rules set by the FTC. She noted that it was a paid promotion. So, what led to her $1.26 million fine?

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

Facing SEC Charges

While Kardashian followed FTC guidelines, she failed to follow guidelines from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

On October 3, 2022, the SEC issued a press release and announced it was charging Kardashian “for unlawfully touting crypto security.”

The press release said, “The SEC’s order finds that Kardashian failed to disclose that she was paid $250,000 to publish a post on her Instagram account about EMAX tokens, the crypto asset security being offered by EthereumMax.”

It went on to say, “The SEC’s order finds that Kardashian violated the anti-touting provision of the federal securities laws.”

Kardashian followed FTC rules for sponsored posts, but she failed to follow SEC rules for sponsored posts related to financial investing.

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

Settling the Case

The SEC press release announcing charges against Kardashian also announced the settling of the case.

Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle the SEC charges. The total settlement represents a $1 million fine and the amount Kardashian was paid for the ad ($250,000) plus interest.

According to the SEC press release, “Kardashian fully cooperated with the SEC from the very beginning and she remains willing to do whatever she can to assist the SEC in this matter. She wanted to get this matter behind her to avoid a protracted dispute. The agreement she reached with the SEC allows her to do that so that she can move forward with her many different business pursuits.”

By settling the case, Kardashian likely avoided an intrusive investigation. Fighting the charges could have forced Kardashian to appear for a deposition and provide more thorough documentation. She avoided further investigation by quickly settling the case and agreeing to additional SEC terms.

As part of the settlement, Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million, to not promote crypto assets for three years, and to help with the ongoing investigation.

Kardashian agreed to the fine and terms of the settlement, but she did not admit or deny the charges against her.

The SEC appears to be setting a standard with the Kardashian case. The commission has warned other celebrities about similar promotions and has also wanted consumers about the risks of following influencer investment advice.

“This case is a reminder that, when celebrities or influencers endorse investment opportunities, including crypto asset securities, it doesn’t mean that those investment products are right for all investors,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “We encourage investors to consider an investment’s potential risks and opportunities in light of their own financial goals.”

While $1.26 million might seem like a steep fine, Kardashian is estimated to be worth $1.8 billion.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

Get Legal Representation You Can Trust

The legal system is complicated. Make sure you have a trusted attorney by your side if you find yourself in the middle of a legal matter.

If you have questions about a civil or criminal case, schedule time to talk to TJ Grimaldi. TJ is an experienced attorney who can give you expert advice for navigating the legal system and fight to make sure you get the best possible outcome for your case. Get insights about your case. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to schedule a call with TJ today.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen

Photo by: zz/XPX/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 5/7/18

In the last year, NFL superstar Tom Brady has been making news on the football field and off. The latest breaking news puts a spotlight on his home life. Speculation has grown that Brady and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen are headed toward a divorce.

If the rumors are true, what would a Brady-Bündchen divorce look like? How would the powerhouse couple divide up the life — and millions of dollars they built together?

The Brady-Bündchen Love Story

When Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen met, Bündchen was one of the most famous supermodels in the world. She had an empire of her own, making millions through her advertising and modeling campaigns. Brady was a well-known football player but not yet the greatest quarterback of all time.

The two married in 2009. In the time since their marriage, Bündchen slowed her career a bit while Brady established himself as one of the most influential NFL players of all time. The couple grew their celebrity and wealth, and they acquired millions in assets.

In early 2022, it seemed they were ready to call it quits on their football life, and Brady announced his retirement. But after only 40 days, Brady changed his mind and announced that he would return to football.

According to reports, his return was good for Tampa Bay where he plays for the Buccaneers. But, it wasn’t good for his marriage. Bündchen is reportedly upset at his decision to return, which could be the reason why Bündchen was recently spotted leaving a divorce attorney’s office.

Many are now speculating that Brady, 45, and Bündchen, 42 are getting ready to file for divorce.

So, what would happen if the rumors are true?

Related: How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

Where Would the Couple File for Divorce?

The couple owns multiple properties, but their primary residence appears to be in the state of Florida. They recently purchased a $17 million mansion in Indian Creek in Miami, Florida.

With their primary residence in Florida, they would need to file for divorce in Florida, and their divorce would follow Florida divorce laws.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida   

What Would the Divorce Process Look Like?

At this time, it appears that Bündchen is leading the possible divorce process. If she were to file for divorce, Brady would then be served with divorce papers.

After divorce papers are served, Brady would have twenty days to file an answer. The answer would tell the court if he agrees or disagrees with the initial filing. From there, the couple would need to create an agreement to divide up their assets and liabilities and set guidelines for child custody and support.

It is rumored that the couple has a prenup that could make their split-up easier. Like Kim Kardashian and Kayne West, who had a prenup, the couple came into their marriage with a large amount of wealth on both sides, so it wouldn’t be unusual to already have an agreement in place. But, they would still need to determine what to do with assets gained during their marriage and to make plans for their children. They could argue these issues in court or choose to go through divorce mediation.

Related: 6 Ways to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

What’s at Stake?

If Brady and Bündchen move forward with their divorce, they will need to come to an agreement regarding many aspects of the life they built together.

Distribution of Financial Assets, Debts, and Properties:  The couple will need to split up millions of dollars in assets and property. According to PEOPLE Magazine, the couple owns “a house at the exclusive Yellowstone Resort in Montana, a $3.5 million NYC apartment, a home in Costa Rica, and the $17 million mansion they purchased in Miami’s elite Indian Creek Island.” They also have millions of dollars of assets. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Bündchen is reportedly worth $400 million, while Brady is worth an estimated $250 million.

Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support: Bündchen and Brady have two children together: Benjamin Rein, 12, and Vivian, 9. They also co-parent Brady’s son John Edward, 15, with Brady’s ex, Bridget Moynahan. Part of their divorce settlement will involve agreements on child custody, parenting time, and child support. Whoever has more custody responsibilities may be entitled to child support.

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

Spousal Support: Both Bündchen and Brady have made millions in their careers, but that doesn’t mean neither will have to pay spousal support. While Bündchen may have a higher net worth, she could be entitled to support if the court focuses on the couple’s more recent earnings. Bündchen has taken time away from work to focus on her family while Brady has been focusing on his career and earning higher wages in the past few years. Brady originally signed a two-year $50 million deal with the Buccaneers in 2020, and he recently signed a 10-year $375 million deal with Fox Sports. His recent earnings could make it more likely that Bündchen could receive some sort of spousal support.

Rumors and expectations for the divorce are all speculative, so we will have to wait and see what the future holds for Brady and Bündchen.

Find a Trusted Divorce Attorney

Even with a prenup and planning, managing a divorce can be complicated and messy. If you are getting ready to go through a divorce, make sure you have a divorce attorney you can trust by your side. Contact TJ Grimaldi today to see how he can help guide you through your divorce process and fight for you. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Nikolas Cruz’s Sentencing Trial

(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and repeatedly fired a gun at students and teachers. His shots injured 17 and killed 17.

Now four years later, a jury will determine what the punishment for his actions will be.

The jury will decide if Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison or death.

A Trial to Determine the Punishment for a Horrific Shooting

There is no question that Cruz is responsible for the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The evidence is abundant, and Cruz didn’t challenge the charges against him.

Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Because Cruz plead guilty, there was no trial to determine his guilt, but there is now a trial to determine the punishment for his crimes.

The trial will determine if Cruz, now 23, will be sentenced to life in prison or death.

How Does the Sentencing Trial Work?

The trial process began by selecting 12 jurors and two alternatives. It took three months to choose the seven men and five women for the jury, as reported by NBC Miami.

The jury is responsible for listening to the prosecution’s case and reasons for why Cruz should receive the death penalty, as well as listening to the defense’s case for why Cruz’s life should be spared.

For Cruz to get the death penalty, the jury must unanimously vote for the death penalty in at least one of the counts. 

Because 17 people were murdered, there are 17 counts. It will only take one unanimous vote on one of the counts for Cruz to receive the death penalty. But, if just one juror votes against the death penalty in each count, Cruz will receive a life sentence.

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

The Defense Presents Its Case

The trial started with the defense laying out their arguments for why Cruz’s life should be spared. On August 22, the defense presented opening statements and began calling witnesses.

The defense team brought in 25 witnesses over eleven days. Witnesses ranged from Cruz’s half-sister who testified that she saw her mother using drugs while pregnant with Cruz to Cruz’s former teachers and principal who discussed behavioral issues that Cruz had as a young child.

The defense tried to make the case that Cruz’s troubled history is what left Cruz physically, mentally, and emotionally unstable.

On September 14, with roughly 40 more witnesses on their list, the defense suddenly rested their case — to the surprise of the judge.

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

Sparks Between the Judge and the Defense

On September 14, Judge Elizabeth Scherer was visibly upset when the defense unexpectedly rested their case just moments before the jury was supposed to walk into the courtroom.

The defense started the day by resting their case without prior notice, which meant prosecutors weren’t ready to present their case and the entire court would need to be dismissed for the day.

Judge Scherer was not pleased with the defense and let them know. She said, “I just want to say this is the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try the case.”

Melisa McNeill, a member of the defense team, attempted to respond, but she was cut off by Judge Scherer. “You know what, I don’t want to hear it,” Judge Scherer said.

Two days later, the defense filed a motion asking the judge to disqualify herself from the case. The defense argued that Judge Scherer showed animosity toward lead defense attorney Melisa McNeil and that, “Mr. Cruz has a reasonable belief that the rulings of the Court have been influenced by its adverse feelings.”

Judge Scherer denied the motion and will remain on the case.

The Prosecution Begins Their Rebuttal

Now that the defense has rested, prosecutors have started to present evidence rebutting the defense’s case. After a short delay due to Hurricane Ian, the prosecutors are back to challenging the narratives presented by the defense and bringing in their own witnesses.

Once the defense rests, Cruz’s future will be in the hands of the jury.

The jury can choose to sentence him to life in prison or unanimously hand down the death penalty.

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

Have a Trusted Attorney By Your Side

Court cases can have unexpected challenges, twists, and turns, no matter what side of the courtroom you are on. If you are involved in a legal matter, make sure you have a trusted attorney on your side to guide you through the complicated legal process. If you have a case to discuss, see how TJ Grimaldi can help. Call now or schedule your meeting to see how TJ can be a trusted attorney by your side.

Standing Against Gun Violence

TJ Grimaldi is proud to stand with the victims of gun violence.

TJ is an Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation which provides funds to help kids get what they need in the wake of being directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence. The organization was created to honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, whose life ended in a senseless act of gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can also help victims of gun violence.

Adnan Syed Released From Prison

(AP Photo/Brian Witte)

In 1999, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee was found dead. Despite her ex-boyfriend’s claims that he was innocent, Adnan Syed was sentenced to life in prison for her murder. Now, after more than twenty years and a popular podcast about the murder, Syed is out of prison.

Will “Serial” podcast subject Adnan Syed become a free man?

Syed Found Guilty for The Murder of Hae Min Lee

In 1999, 18-year-old Hae Min Lee went missing. After a month of searching, Lee was found buried in a park near Baltimore, Maryland. Her death was ruled a homicide by strangulation.

The investigation into her murder led to 17-year-old Adnan Syed. Syed was Lee’s ex-boyfriend, and two pieces of evidence made him a prime suspect. Cell phone records showed a ping from Syed’s phone on a tower near the park where Lee was found. More telling, a classmate of Syed and Lee testified that he helped Syed bury Lee’s body.

The two pieces of evidence were enough to lead a jury to convict Syed. He was found guilty of murder, robbery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment and was sentenced to life in prison.

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

“Serial” Podcast Exposes Holes in Syed’s Conviction

Fourteen years after the verdict, Syed became the subject of the podcast, Serial.

The podcast, released in 2014, was extremely popular and downloaded around 100 million times. It revisited Syed’s case, pointing out the holes in the story and presenting the possibility that Syed was innocent.

Among the evidence was the statement of Asia McClain. A fellow classmate, McClaim said she was with Syed at the time of the murder. She said she contacted Syed’s attorney at the time of the trial because she wanted to testify, but Syed’s attorney never contacted her.

The podcast highlighted other errors made by Syed’s attorney, Maria Cristina Gutierrez and documented how she was disbarred in 2001 after multiple client complaints. The podcast also shared how physical evidence was never tested for DNA and that the cell phone tower data might not have been credible.

Many listeners began to believe in the possibility of Syed’s innocence. But, could a podcast reverse a verdict?

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

Moving Through The Appeals Process

Many listeners hoped Syed’s case might be reversed in February 2015 when a court agreed to hear an appeal and granted a hearing to introduce new evidence. The appeals process was slow and long. The case went back and forth with appeals from both sides, and in 2018, Maryland’s highest court eventually denied Syed a new trial. The Supreme Court refused to hear his case, and it seemed Syed had run out of options.

Then, a new Maryland law brought Syed’s case back into the court system in 2022.

The Maryland law allows “prosecutors the discretion to modify sentences of offenders who were under 18 at the time of their crimes and had served at least 20 years in prison.” So in March 2022, prosecutors agreed to review Syed’s case and conduct new DNA testing due to advances in genetics profiling.

The investigation found multiple reasons to believe Syed’s conviction may be incorrect.

As reported by The New York Times, prosecutors said their investigation found:

  • The potential involvement of two “alternative suspects”
  • Key evidence that prosecutors might have failed to provide to Syed’s lawyers
  • “Significant reliability issues regarding the most critical pieces of evidence” presented at trial

In September 2022, prosecutors officially asked for Syed’s conviction to be overturned. Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore City, said in a statement, “After a nearly yearlong investigation reviewing the facts of this case, Syed deserves a new trial where he is adequately represented and the latest evidence can be presented.”

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Will Syed Go Free?

On September 19, 2022, Judge Melissa M. Phinn of Baltimore City Circuit Court vacated Syed’s conviction, stating that prosecutors made a compelling argument that Syed’s conviction was flawed.

At age 41, Syed walked out of prison.

Syed’s legal story isn’t over just yet. He must remain under home detention while prosecutors decide what to do about his case. Maryland prosecutors have 30 days to decide if they want to proceed with a new trial or drop the charges.

If they decide to have a new trial, Syed will have another chance to prove his innocence in court.

If they decide to drop the charges, Syed will walk away as a free man.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

The Importance of a Strong Legal Defense

Syed’s case is a reminder of how important it is to have a strong legal defense team. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, make sure you have a criminal defense attorney who will fight for you to get the most just and fair outcome.

To discuss any pending criminal cases, talk to TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your meeting or call 813-226-1023 now.