Charles Robert Seraphin is a name that many of the 13,000 St Augustine city residents likely wouldn’t know were it not for the fact that Historic City News reported when Seraphin reached out to the 80-year-old writer of a Letter to the Editor, and confronted him over the telephone because he wrote that, although he liked former mayor Joe Boles, he was voting for our current mayor, Nancy Shaver.
Seraphin’s name was often followed by comments from other hard-working city employees who wondered exactly what it was that he did as a “marketing specialist” worthy of his $78,000 a year paycheck.
Originally hired as a city employee to work with Dana Ste. Claire in the 450th Commemoration office, City Manager John Regan has told Historic City News editor Michael Gold that when he first talked with Seraphin, he found him to be a “high energy” marketing guy.
Seraphin claimed to be able and was expected to reach into his trick-bag of high profile contacts and deliver an assortment of high dollar sponsors to offset the steadily increasing debt being incurred by the city’s taxpayers for the four-year-long, over-promised and under-delivered spectacle.
Seraphin was retained by the city to act as a “Professional Consultant” for work associated with the “fundraising and the planning and execution of its 450th commemoration of the founding of the City of St Augustine”, according to his contract. The City Commission of the City of St Augustine says that they require the “expertise of consultants intimately familiar and specifically qualified” in order to be properly prepared to pull off the commemoration, according to the recitals.
This decision despite the fact that, during the past year, Seraphin was unsuccessful in his fundraising mission. Significant sponsors never materialized. None the less, the October 1, 2012 contract says Charlie Seraphin’s “experience and background … provides him with the unique and necessary qualifications to provide the required consultation and guidance to the city”. Seraphin was moved from “marketing employee” status to marketing consultant as an “independent contractor” and renewed each year through 2014.
But, when the city manager learned of the political implications of Seraphin’s actions, when, as a city contractor, he was expected to remain a-political, Regan terminated Seraphin’s contract — allowing him additional paid notice.
Unhappy with the termination of his contract, Seraphin decided to sue the City of St Augustine, as well as John Regan and Nancy Shaver personally, in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division.
Labor related lawsuits against the city are reported to their insurer, The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust. The insurer provided a defense to the City, Regan and now Mayor Shaver in the matter Charles Robert Seraphin vs. City of St. Augustine, Florida, Case No. 3:15-cv-00136-HLA-JRK. Seraphin retained Daytona Beach law firm Cobb-Cole.
As is often the case when an errors and omissions or professional liability insurer is covering a claim against an insured, their attorneys get to steer the defense of that lawsuit. They want to settle the claim as quickly as possible, with the least risk, at the lowest possible one-time price. Whether the defendants collectively or individually are comfortable with their actions, it is not there decision if the case will proceed to trial. That choice, in this case, was proceed to mediation.
On November 6, 2015, Jacksonville attorney Gregg L. Wirtz mediated a settlement that brought about the agreement to dismiss the lawsuit, with prejudice, as to all named Defendants.
Charlie Seraphin had to agree that he will not apply for any position with the City of St Augustine in the future, execute a full release of all claims of every kind (including attorneys’ fees and costs), acknowledge that no taxes are due from the defendants, dismiss the current suit, with prejudice, and agree not to participate in any future complaints based on the facts in this case.
Finally, Seraphin acknowledged that he understands and agrees that the Court has made no findings concerning his alleged violations of law, regulation, ordinance, administrative order or rule, and, likewise, each of the Defendants expressly denies any liability in connection with the Lawsuit, and any responsibility for any damages alleged and that this settlement is not to be cited as an admission of fault by any Party.
The price of those agreements was $40,000, according to the documents obtained by Historic City News.
MEDIATION SETTLEMENT WITH SERAPHIN:
SETTLEMENT WITH FULL AND FINAL RELEASE: