In addition, Val Rodriguez has an extensive civil practice, having represented plaintiffs and defendants alike in all sorts of matters, relating to discrimination cases, civil rights, contract disputes, and construction lien litigation. He has achieved significant jury verdicts in civil cases involving civil rights violations. Settlements have also resulted in significant federal civil rights cases involving the Americans With Disabilities Act, Title VII (sex discrimination), the Whistleblower Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and race discrimination.
Val Rodriguez has also defended small businesses, large companies, churches, and other organizations in contractual disputes, and has defended individuals in claims ranging from contract disputes to fraud and other commercial litigation. A significant portion of his practice is dedicated to civil cases, and in particular, resolving construction issues.
In particular, Val Rodriguez is known for his civil rights cases that have changed the laws in Florida. For example, he was able to successfully challenge a state and federal law requiring CDL license holders to speak English. He was able to overturn loitering ordinances in Riviera Beach, Florida.
For example, in April 2013, Val Rodriguez defended a small sports pub and its owners, who were sued for alleged negligence when one patron assaulted another. After a four day trial and 40 minutes of deliberation, Val Rodriguez convinced the jury that the sports pub could not be liable for random acts of third parties who assault patrons. The Plaintiff had sought over $400,000 in damages.
GT was falsely arrested by the West Palm Beach Police Department in April 2013, when a witness misidentified him as the perpetrator of a burglary at a local high end car dealership. The police were told of an ironclad alibi defense, but ignored it and arrested and prosecuted him. The client spent more than 3 months in jail unjustly. Val Rodriguez moved to have all his criminal charges dismissed successfully, and the City of West Palm Beach paid GT more than $100,000 for the false arrest.
DM was falsely arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in June 2013, after one of its deputies improperly issued several traffic citations, in his name, to other motorists, due to the deputy’s recklessness. The Sheriff’s Office paid DM more than $75,000 for this false arrest.
EG was falsely arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in February 2014, after one its deputies falsely attested to a search warrant affidavit to justify a search of his residence. He spent a night in jail and was prosecuted. Val Rodriguez had his criminal charges dismissed, and the Sheriff’s Office paid nearly $40,000 for the false arrest.
AG was battered by a deputy from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014, after his family called the police to report intruders. The deputy had a history of abusing citizens. The Sheriff’s Office paid over $40,000 for the use of excessive force.
ES and four other citizens were pulled over by Officer Mattino of the North Palm Beach Police Department, and charged with DUI, despite the fact that each of them had zero alcohol content in their breath after blowing into the breathalyzer. In a civil case in federal court, the city agreed to pay each driver damages for their officer’s repeated false arrests.
RB was shot and killed by a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy, after it appeared that he was backing into the officer after a traffic stop. RB was 16 years old and did not have a drivers license. He also did not know the car he was driving was stolen. After litigation, the Sheriff’s Office paid his family $200,000 for the improper use of force.
The owners of a local car dealership had their entire inventory seized, over 100 vehicles, along with their funds, because the federal government believed the cars were part of a criminal enterprise. Val Rodriguez sued the federal court for return of all seized assets, and successfully negotiated the return of all assets, valued in excess of $1.5 million.
The following are highlights of some of the cases handled by Val Rodriguez in the last ten years, based on news reports:
Defending Persons Shot by the Police and Subsequent Accused of Assault
August 2, 2008: A 16 year old student at a local high school was shot in the back and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy while he drove away from the deputy; a civil rights investigation was started, and litigation has begun against the Sheriff’s Office and the Village of Royal Palm Beach, for the alleged wrongful death.
December 18, 2004: In what was considered one of the most litigated criminal cases in Palm Beach County, Telly Andrews was charged in January 2000 with attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer. He faced over 45 years imprisonment. It was alleged that he drove toward an officer, which prompted that police officer to fire about six rounds toward him, several of which hit him as Andrews was driving away from the scene, which was precipitated by a malfunctioning taillight. There was extensive debate on whether the crime scene confirmed the officer’s version of events. The first trial ended with an attempted second degree murder conviction, whereupon, Valentin Rodriguez convinced the judge to order a new trial based on a series of errors by the State. The trial judge opined that the police officer should have been the defendant on trial. In the second trial, there was a conviction for aggravated assault, whereupon the judge issued a sentence for time served. The State appealed, and because of a change in state law, the trial judge had to change the sentence to three years imprisonment in December 2004. Andrews sued the City of West Palm Beach for improperly shooting him, and settled his excessive force civil case thereafter. (See Palm Beach Post articles titled: Judge Reluctantly Mets Out Penalty, published on December 18, 2004, and Anatomy of a Police Shooting, published on November 25, 2002, and Attempted Murder Verdict Tossed, published on April 6, 2001).
March 29, 2003: It was alleged that Gregory Holman tried to kill a police officer with his vehicle. He was shot while driving the car. The crime scene evidence did not support the police officer’s version of events. Although he faced 45 years imprisonment (and a mandatory minimum of 3 years imprisonment), the work of Valentin Rodriguez in reconstructing the crime scene convinced the State Attorney’s Office to offer him a plea to a year in the county jail as punishment. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Deal Cuts Attempted Murder Charge to Assault, published on March 29, 2003).
First Amendment Violations
February 8, 2008: Raylo, the producer of a DVD reality series filmed in West Palm Beach, was arrested for trespassing at City Place along with a friend, for merely being present and desiring to attend a movie; he argued that his presence at City Place was protected by the first amendment and that he could not be banned from City Place simply for producing his DVD reality series taken near City Place; a jury found him and his friend not guilty of the criminal charges, and he sued for a violation of his civil rights.
May 24, 2002: Valentin Rodriguez successfully defended a local radio station on first amendment grounds, it was sued for defamation and slander when one of its outspoken talk show hosts allegedly made fun of a call-in listener; after a mistrial was declared, the radio station was dismissed from the case. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Judge Declares Mistrial for Radio Host’s Co-Defendant, published on May 24, 2002).
December 16, 1998: Millionaire Sandy Satullo wanted to place a large sign in his oceanfront yard in Hillsboro Beach, but town officials did not agree with the message: “Impeach Clinton,” and began assessing large fines. Valentin Rodriguez successfully sued the town under the First Amendment, and settled the case allowing the sign to remain. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: ACLU Files Suit Against Town to Let Millionaire Keep His Sign, published on December 16, 1998).
False DUI Arrest
February 7, 2005: A police officer of the North Palm Beach Police Department regularly made false DUI arrests, where the drivers he stopped for minor infractions never registered alcohol on their breath, but were arrested anyway; the town settled the civil rights lawsuits when Valentin Rodriguez sued on behalf of five local drivers falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Officer Hailed for DUI Arrests Under Inquiry, published on February 7, 2005).
False Arrests for Abuse of the Elderly
April 26, 2004: The Dawsons, a mother and son team, ran Dawson Adult Care in Riviera Beach, for the elderly and poor, on behalf of organizations like Catholic Charities and Legal Aid. State authorities, wanting to shut them down for code violations, charged both of them with abuse of the elderly. When it became apparent that the lead investigator had lied in her probable cause affidavit, the State promptly dismissed the felony charges, which could have resulted in 15 years incarceration. The Dawsons thereafter sued the State of Florida for their false arrest and malicious prosecution. (See Palm Beach Post article titled: Owners of Shuttered Adult Care Plan to Sue, published on April 26, 2004).