Guy Rubin on WPBF Channel 25 News: FDLE report sparks new questions, concerns for parent of Tequesta boy missing at sea

Terry Parker - Investigative Reporter

TEQUESTA, Fla. — FDLE report sparks new questions, concerns for parent of Tequesta boy missing at sea. Pamela Cohen doesn’t understand delay in calling for help to find Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen. 

The newly released FDLE investigative report into the disappearance at sea of 14-year-old friends contained revelations that shocked and dismayed the mother of one of the boys as they learned more about the other parents’ actions that day.

“From minute one, the question was out there, ‘Why didn't you call me, my son was in that boat, why didn't you give us the opportunity to save him?’" said Pamela Cohen’s attorney, Guy Rubin. “What was new in the report was the timeline.”

Rubin said the report, which concluded there was probable cause for negligence charges, opened the door to a whole new set of questions.

“All of the interaction that the family of Austin had, after the storm passed over and Pamela wasn’t notified, 911 wasn't notified - many hours passed by and those hours were so precious,” said Rubin.

The FDLE report noted that Carly Black last got a text from her son Austin around 11:35 am the day he and Perry went out on the ocean in Austin’s boat to fish. But even though a massive storm blew through the area around 1:00 pm, and she did not hear back from the boys, Black did not call 911 or Perry’s mother for almost four hours.

Instead, Black called family members and Austin’s father, who went out on his own boat to look for the boys.

The report detailed numerous interviews with a family friend, grandparents, parents and friends of the boys to piece together a dramatic timeline starting with their early morning departure out of the Jupiter Inlet, to the frantic response of Pamela Cohen and her husband when they were finally notified the boys were missing.

“So for there to be this conversation to be going on but no call to 911 and no call to the other parents for hours; that's really surprising – no, we didn't know that,” said Rubin.

The report included a copy of a Snapchat image the boys sent to a friend with the words “Peace out Jup” a phrase used locally to indicate departing on a trip to the Bahamas. Numerous friends said the boys had told them they were going to the Bahamas that day.

However, Rubin said he doesn’t think the talk was much more than adolescent bravado, because the 19 foot boat was not equipped with equipment such as a radio, GPS or any other emergency communication device, a fact the FDLE report criticized.

“It could have been bravado, a lark, a prank, a punk, but that boat wasn't going to the Bahamas,” Rubin said.

The next step to getting answers as to why 911 wasn’t called, why the Cohens weren’t alerted, may have to be another civil lawsuit.

“Pamela Cohen doesn’t want money damages. She just wants to know what happened to her son,” said Rubin.

The report detailed that Cohen had made it clear to Austin’s parents that Perry was not allowed on the ocean without an adult, yet Black and others knew the boys were going on the ocean that day to fish for dolphin.

While the FDLE report said there was probable cause for negligence charges – presumably against someone in Austin’s family who allowed the teens to go alone out on the ocean in the small boat – the State Attorney’s Office disagreed, saying the ocean in not an “inherently dangerous” place.

Guy Rubin in the Palm Beach Post

Missing teens: FDLE revelations could trigger lawsuit

Bill DiPaolo - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

JUPITER - The mother of one of two Tequesta teens lost at sea in 2015 is considering a lawsuit and fighting a court action she says would limit her ability to sue the other teen’s family, her attorney told The Palm Beach Post on Monday.

Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were last seen sailing through the Jupiter Inlet on July 24, 2015. State reports made public last week found that a storm on the Atlantic forced their boat to sink and that an “egregious lapse in judgment and failure to exercise due care” let them head out into the Atlantic in those conditions.

The families have been adversaries in a lawsuit since December over a maritime law called the Limitation Act. The act limits the amount boat passengers can sue to the value of a damaged boat after it is salvaged.

The $500 is the salvage value of the empty 19-foot boat used by the boys after it was recovered on March, 2016 off the coast of Bermuda by the Edda Fjord, a 322-foot Norwegian transport vessel.

“It is irrefutable that both Austin’s parents knew that Perry was not supposed to go out of the inlet unsupervised,” said Guy Rubin, the attorney representing Pamela Cohen, Perry’s mother.

Guy Rubin in the Daily News

Mother of one of two Florida teens lost at sea two years ago criticizes other family, mulls lawsuit

BY DAVID BOROFF

The mother of one of two Florida teens lost at sea lashed out at the mom of the second boater and is mulling a lawsuit after investigators found evidence of child neglect.

Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, disappeared during a storm off Florida's Atlantic coast in July 2015, and their capsized boat was found months later in the Bahamas.

The state opened a criminal investigation in December of Austin's mother for possible child neglect. Investigators found probable cause to charge Carly Black, but the state attorney said there was not enough proof "to satisfy the statutory language," the Palm Beach Post reported last week.

According to investigators, Black allowed the teens to "go offshore into the Atlantic Ocean, an inherently dangerous environment, in a minimally equipped 19-foot boat with a single outboard motor without adult or parental supervision," and without a radio or an emergency beacon that could have been used to find them.

Perry's parents said their son was not allowed to go offshore without adult supervision, and both families knew this, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report obtained by the Palm Beach Post.

Pamela Cohen, Perry's mother, is now considering a lawsuit against the other family, her lawyer told the newspaper.

"It is irrefutable that both Austin’s parents knew that Perry was not supposed to go out of the inlet unsupervised," Guy Rubin told the Palm Beach Post.

Guy Rubin interviewed for TCPalm article on Civil Rights lawsuits

Investigation: Complaints against aggressive policing costly in Indian River County

Melissa E. Holsman , melissa.holsman@tcpalm.com

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY —  When James Noble died two weeks after being shot outside his home by a Vero Beach police officer responding to a possible prowler in 2011, the 70-year-old’s family called his death an “unjustified” use of force.

If we didn’t take these kinds of cases, you would never have the courts telling law enforcement what the appropriate confines are for constitutional behavior. The courts make decisions, and those decisions are then the law of the land, and police, law enforcement agencies, are supposed to abide by those decisions.
— Guy Bennett Rubin, Esq.

According to police reports, when Noble saw the officer, he pulled a .45-caliber handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the officer. Noble was shot in the chest after he failed to put the weapon down when ordered to do so. The officer was later cleared by a grand jury.

Noble’s family told a different version of events in a federal lawsuit filed against the Police Department, and later dropped, that accused the officer of improperly firing his weapon.

Physical clashes such as this between the public and local law enforcement either preceded or caused the deaths of 29 people in the past 16 years, state and court records show. Twenty fatal encounters on the Treasure Coast involved police gunfire later determined to be justified.

It’s too soon to know if Sunday’s shooting death in Gifford of Alteria Woods, 21, by members of the Indian River County Sheriff Office Special Weapons and Tactics team, also will be ruled as a justified use of deadly force. Records show her death is the first fatal officer-involved shooting in 2017 on the Treasure Coast.

Sheriff officials have said Woods was a bystander caught in an early morning firefight with law enforcement during a drug raid that also wounded a deputy and ended with the arrests of two father-and-son career criminals.

When these fatal incidents occur, most often during traffic stops or domestic disturbances, they can anger a community, launch criminal probes or prompt change. They also put a spotlight on the agency and its officers' conduct.

But they rarely spur the lawsuits agencies defend against most, and cost taxpayers the most to resolve.

A months-long TCPalm.com investigation into police encounters dating to 2000 shows that while Treasure Coast law enforcement agencies spent $1.6 million to settle claims related to six deaths involving police, they spent more than double that amount to settle claims accusing police of aggressive behavior.

Rubin & Rubin Sponsors First Remembrance Walk for Madison's Miracles

Rubin & Rubin is a sponsor of the first ever Remembrance Walk for Babies Gone Too Soon, an event for Madison's Miracles.  The walk will take place Saturday, November 19, 2016 from 8 - 11 a.m. at Martin County High School Track & Field.

 Madison's Miracles is a non-profit organization providing support and resources to grieving parents who have experienced still birth or infant loss.  

Guy Rubin on WPTV Channel 5

Patient claims doctor left drill bit inside her hip

Andrew Ruiz

A veteran of the West Palm Beach Police Department is suing a local doctor. She claims he left a 2-inch drill bit in her hip during surgery.

Briggid Larson says it wasn’t until 11 days after her surgery that she found out about it.  Larson says she saw the drill bit on one of her X-rays.

Larson is suing Dr. Michael Cooney and the Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute.  Cooney has offices in West Palm, Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter.

According to her attorney, Larson incurred more than $25,000 in additional medical bills for a second surgery to remove the drill bit.  When the law firm Larson contacted reached out for compensation and reimbursement it says the doctor and his offices invoked an arbitration agreement Larson singed two years earlier.

Larson says she felt betrayed.  "The doctor wants the patient to tell the doctor everything about the condition and the patient wants the truth from the doctor. This is a clear betrayal,” said Larson’s attorney Guy Rubin.  A call to Dr. Cooney’s office for comment has not been returned.

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