Michael Grasso dismisses case on couple he said attacked him


St. Marks resident Michael Grasso dropped his lawsuit against a couple he claimed attacked him, Keith and Terri Hill.

Grasso, who is disabled, was reportedly turned away from the Leon County Tax Collector’s Office in 2020 when he tried to enter with his service dog. Terri Hill was a employee in the office, and Grasso claimed she shut the door on him. He sued, and settled with the office.
In his lawsuit, he claimed Terri and Keith Hill began coming to St. Marks, where he lived on a houseboat, stalking him, and later attacked him.
He claimed Keith Hill confronted him, punched him in the face and caused him to fall into a pile of debris, injuring him.
Representing himself, Grasso filed a lawsuit against the Hills for damages – first in Leon County, which was transferred to Wakulla County.
The Hills were represented by attorney Shelly Thomas, and at one point Thomas was unresponsive to requests by Grasso, and he ended up filing a request for sanctions agianst her for failure to perform her duties.
Circuit Judge Layne Smith expressed his concerns to Thomas in a hearing, but did not sanction her. Judge Smith then recused himself from the case and it was assigned to Judge Lee Marsh.
At a hearing in April before Judge Marsh, Thomas removed herself as counsel for the Hills and were represented by attorney David Kemp, as the argument over whether Grasso should be given a default judgment against the Hills because of the former attorney’s noncompliance – and Judge Marsh ruled no.
Grasso said he had been irreparably harmed by the delay in the case, announcing to the court that he had stage 4 cancer and has only 12 months to live.
Judge Marsh set a trial date of May 28, but at the end of April, Grass filed a voluntary dismissal with the court that was granted.
In it, Grasso wrote: “After 15 months of this court completely ignoring the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and plaintiff’s right to an impartial trier of facts, Plaintiff has decided to settle his claims against Defendants and asks the court to dismiss” the lawsuit.
Grasso had earned notoriety for a lawsuit a few years earlier in which he sued the St. Marks Stone Crab Festival for refusing to allow him to take his service dog inside the festival. Grasso won his administrative law case over and attorney’s fees ended up bankrupting the festival.
That case was also notable in that then-Deputy Robert Standeford was working at the Stone Crab Festival and was called as a witness in the case – and he lied about being in the military, being sent to the middle east after the 9/11 attacks, having post-traumatic stress disorder and a service dog.
The Wakulla state attorney’s office filed felony perjury charges against Standeford for lying in a court proceeding, but the charges were dropped after it was determined that perjury charges couldn’t be pursued because the lies were not relevant to the case at bar.
The state attorney’s office did a Giglio memo on Standeford, meaning his testimony was unreliable.
The sheriff’s office investigated Standeford and found that he told other people that he was a Marine veteran when he was not – among other untruths. He was given an option to resign and did, and then sued the sheriff’s office claiming he was dismissed for being a whistleblower.
That lawsuit was dismissed a couple of months ago, but Standeford has appealed the dismissal.