Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Whistleblower Suit from Doyle

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Whistleblower Suit from Doyle

Article excerpt

GULFCOAST LEGAL: Ousted attorney first sought to rejoin the nonprofit firm


Elizabeth Boyle, the former head of Gulfcoast Legal Services' Sarasota office, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the St. Petersburg-based nonprofit.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Sarasota County Circuit Court, came after Boyle's request to be reinstated as a staff attorney was rejected by Gulfcoast.

Boyle had sought to rejoin the firm after the departure of Kathleen Mullin, Gulfcoast's former executive director, who either left abruptly or was forced out by the board of directors this month.

Boyle declined to comment about the specifics of her suit.

"It has been my highest honor to represent and serve the vulnerable in Sarasota and Manatee counties," she said. "Unfortunately, Gulfcoast has forced me to have to take this action."

John Dubrule, Gulfcoast's interim executive director, was unaware of the suit when contacted Wednesday.

He declined to comment about the pending litigation or about the circumstances surrounding Mullin's departure.

"That's another thing that, unfortunately, I can't talk about," he said.

Messages left for Mullin with Gulfcoast were not returned.

When Boyle ran Gulfcoast's Sarasota office she had a team of staff attorneys and dozens of well-credentialed volunteer lawyers.

Now, one staff attorney is assigned to the office, Dubrule said.

Still, the interim executive director said Gulfcoast is "ready to provide the services we've always provided."

"For our clients in Sarasota and Manatee counties, we provide services for housing, foreclosure, elder law, public benefits -- we're committed to provide high quality service that we've always provided since 1981."

Earlier lawsuit

Mullin fired Boyle in May.

Boyle contends her dismissal stemmed from a federal age discrimination complaint she filed four months earlier, and for her refusal to drop a case involving a quadriplegic woman whom she hoped to assist in finding longterm care.

Boyle's lawsuit, which she filed pro se, also accuses Mullin and Gulfcoast of violating her civil rights and of libeling her on three occasions.

According to the complaint, during her 11 years at the legal aid nonprofit, Boyle oversaw 250 volunteers, managed more than 7,400 cases, was the lead attorney on 3,800 cases, and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and other funding. …

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