CLEARWATER, Fla. – A homeless Clearwater man’s life has become a circus of lawsuits both filed by him and filed against him.
On July 23, Bassam Minawi, 58, filed a pro se lawsuit in the Pinellas County courts. Minawi, last reported as homeless, claims his defendants collectively cheated him out of workers’ compensation for injuries sustained while working as a cook and later a dishwasher.
Minawi is suing a judge, an independent medical examiner, and three attorneys. According to judicial documents, Minawi has worked in the U.S. under work authorizations but has not always renewed them on time.
Minawi himself has been sued in at least two other lawsuits filed against him in recent years.
He was sued by the Homeless Emergency Project in Small Claims court on April 14, and before that, he was sued in 2019 by Clearwater attorney G. Andrew Gracy who was his recently deceased father’s personal representative.
It is not known why Minawi was sued by Homeless Emergency Project, but a summary of Gracy’s suit claims that Minawi was living in his deceased father’s condominium which he had no right to possess, according to Minawi’s father’s will.
But Minawi claimed he was lawfully entitled to the property while suggesting his father’s will was signed under fraud and duress, according to www.casetext.com.
Ultimately, Minawi left the condominium and became homeless.
In his worker’s compensation case, Minawi is suing Rita Young, a judicial officer in the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims, and three attorneys – Ricki Whipple, who represented Minawi’s former employer, Healthcare Services Group, Daniel Jaffe, who represented Minawi’s former employer Palm Pavilion of Clearwater, and Thomas Scully, who represented Minawi himself but walked away from the case. He is also suing Dr. Stuart Goldsmith, M.D., an independent medical examiner.
Minawi’s suit claims that in May 2020, he suffered a left chest, shoulder blade, arm, and elbow workplace trauma at Healthcare Services Group “due to negligence of a co-worker while removing a hot pan from the oven and placing it in a steam table behind him on May 25, 2020.” While employed at Palm Pavilion of Clearwater, he complained of a “repetitive strain injury” while operating a Hobart dishwashing conveyor system.
However, according to Judge Young’s mediation “Final Compensation Order,” Minawi complained to healthcare providers that he had suffered from much of his current ailments for 10 to 15 years. Claiming to various healthcare providers that he suffered from PTSD, hypertension, anxiety, and depression, the judge stated that medical records showed Minawi walked out of a hospital emergency room believing the physician’s recommendations were “a fraud.” The physician wanted Minawi to be examined for the possible need of a stent.
Minawi accuses Judge Young of harassing him and denying his rights under Florida Chapter 440 regarding worker’s compensation.
The lawsuit states, “Defendant Judge Young in her order seemed to use case law not offered by defendant Whipple and acted outside her duty as a trier of fact, acted as an attorney to disparage plaintiff’s rights, yelled at him at the hearings, accused him of talking over her, and brought him to tears multiple times and used inadmissible and hearsay evidence to deny him his rights.”
Minawi is unhappy that his own attorney, Scully, “violated due process laws and removed himself from the case and withdrew the plaintiffs petition for benefits without the consent or notifying him…and placed an implied lien in both cases.”
Minawi claims “Goldsmith fabricated his findings to disfavor the plaintiff to deprive him of legal right as an injured worker who sustained permanent damage to his cervical spine at C3- C4, C4-C5, C5- C6, and tendonosis in his left shoulder area to deprive him of medical assistance sanctioned by law covering injured workers.”
Part of Minawi’s description of what happened in Goldsmith’s office includes:
“Plaintiff at the examination yelled and felt severe pain in his left arm, shoulder and elbow when Goldsmith attempted to perform the Hawkins Kennedy Speed Test, defendant Goldsmith quickly grabbed his clipboard and started to walk out the examining room, looked back at the near-naked patient and stated, ‘I am not here to treat you, just to diagnose you, and left.’”
Minawi added he felt that Goldsmith’s evaluation of a recent MRI conflicted with a later MRI evaluation.
Both attorneys representing Minawi’s past employers were sued for depriving his rights to assistance for his injuries. In many instances, the judge denied the lawyers’ requests to toss out components of medical evidence. However, it appears it was Minawi’s inconsistent statements to various healthcare providers about when the onset of his symptoms occurred that largely contributed to Judge Young denying his workers’ compensation claim, although he was offered $12,000 which he refused.
Minawi also claims he was fired from both of his jobs due to being injured.
The lawsuit contains claims of “Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law,” “Emotional Distress – Intentional Infliction,” “Negligence/Malpractice,” and “Fraudulent Practices Chapter 817.535.”
Minawi comments in his lawsuit that due to his injuries and the defendants’ actions he was forced to dissolve two entities he controlled, began to beg for food, and held his steadfast belief in God.
Minawi also has two other lawsuits filed directly against his past employers involved in this case.