Florida Senate - 2015 (NP) SB 44 By Senator Grimsley 21-00013-15 201544__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of the Estate of Lazaro 3 Rodriguez and his legal survivors by the City of 4 Hialeah; providing an appropriation to compensate the 5 Estate and Lazaro Rodriguez’s legal survivors for 6 injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of 7 the City of Hialeah; providing a limitation on the 8 payment of fees and costs; providing that the 9 appropriation settles all present and future claims 10 related to the wrongful death of Lazaro Rodriguez; 11 providing an effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, on July 30, 2000, at approximately 10:14 p.m., 29 14 year-old Lazaro Rodriguez was lawfully and properly operating 15 his 1997 Ford Explorer in the westbound lanes of East 32nd 16 Street in the City of Hialeah, and 17 WHEREAS, at the same time, Officer Jorge Rodriguez, a City 18 of Hialeah road patrolman, was on duty and overheard a radio 19 summons of another unit and, despite the fact that he was not 20 dispatched to the call, decided to respond, and 21 WHEREAS, in responding to the call, Officer Rodriguez was 22 traveling northbound on Palm Avenue in the City of Hialeah while 23 Lazaro Rodriguez was traveling westbound on East 32nd Street, 24 and 25 WHEREAS, Officer Rodriguez ran the red light at the 26 intersection of Palm Avenue and East 32nd Street, crashing his 27 police cruiser into the driver side of the vehicle driven by 28 Lazaro Rodriguez, and 29 WHEREAS, the severe impact of the collision forced Lazaro 30 Rodriguez’s vehicle into a concrete utility pole at the 31 northwest corner of the intersection and then into another 32 vehicle, and 33 WHEREAS, the force of the crash was so great that it caused 34 massive and fatal blunt trauma injuries to Lazaro Rodriguez, and 35 he was pronounced dead at the scene, and 36 WHEREAS, at the conclusion of the traffic homicide 37 investigation concerning the death of Lazaro Rodriguez, the City 38 of Hialeah Police Department found that Officer Rodriguez had 39 violated Florida traffic statutes by unlawfully running the red 40 light at the intersection of Palm Avenue and East 32nd Street 41 and operating his motor vehicle in a careless manner, and that 42 these violations were the legal cause of the traffic collision 43 and the death of Lazaro Rodriguez, and 44 WHEREAS, Lazaro Rodriguez left a widow, Beatriz Luquez, and 45 children, Lazaro, Jr., and Katherine, all of whom were dependent 46 upon him financially and emotionally and loved him dearly, and 47 WHEREAS, in 2001, Ms. Luquez, individually and as the 48 personal representative of the Estate of Lazaro Rodriguez, filed 49 a wrongful death lawsuit in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in 50 and for Miami-Dade County, styled Beatriz Luquez, individually 51 and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Lazaro Rodriguez 52 v. City of Hialeah, Case No. 01-3691 CA 08, and 53 WHEREAS, the parties to the lawsuit entered into a formal 54 settlement agreement following mediation and a unanimous vote by 55 the Hialeah City Council, and 56 WHEREAS, the terms of the settlement agreement required the 57 claimants to dismiss their case with prejudice and provide a 58 full release of liability to the city and its employees, which 59 the claimants have done, in exchange for payments by the City of 60 Hialeah totaling $685,000, plus $25,000 for costs, to be paid 61 over 5 years if the Legislature approves the unpaid amounts, and 62 WHEREAS, pursuant to the settlement agreement, the City of 63 Hialeah has paid $200,000 to the claimants, plus $25,000 for 64 costs, leaving an unpaid balance of $485,000, and 65 WHEREAS, as part of the terms of the settlement agreement 66 and general release, the City of Hialeah has agreed to support 67 the passage of a claim bill and to pay the remaining balance of 68 $485,000 in installments, with the last payment to be made on 69 July 1, 2016, NOW, THEREFORE, 70 71 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 72 73 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 74 found and declared to be true. 75 Section 2. The City of Hialeah is authorized and directed 76 to appropriate from funds of the city not otherwise appropriated 77 and to draw warrants totaling the amount of $485,000, payable to 78 Beatriz Luquez, individually and as personal representative of 79 the Estate of Lazaro Rodriguez, and to Lazaro Rodriguez, Jr., 80 and Katherine Rodriguez, as compensation for injuries and 81 damages sustained by the claimants as a result of the death of 82 Lazaro Rodriguez. The amount of $385,000 shall be paid on July 83 1, 2015, and $100,000 shall be paid on July 1, 2016. 84 Section 3. The total amount paid for attorney fees, 85 lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to 86 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the total amount awarded 87 under this act. 88 Section 4. The amounts awarded pursuant to the waiver of 89 sovereign immunity under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and under 90 this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all 91 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 92 described in the preamble to this act which resulted in the 93 death of Lazaro Rodriguez. 94 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.