Florida Senate - 2016 (NP) CS for SB 14 By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Altman 590-03312-16 201614c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of the Estate of Dr. Sherrill 3 Lynn Aversa; providing an appropriation to compensate 4 the Estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa for Dr. 5 Aversa’s death as a result of the negligence of the 6 Department of Transportation; requiring the Executive 7 Office of the Governor to establish spending authority 8 from unappropriated trust fund balances of the 9 department for compensation to the Estate of Dr. 10 Sherrill Lynn Aversa; providing attorney fees and 11 costs and a limitation on such fees and costs; 12 providing an effective date. 13 14 WHEREAS, on June 21, 1999, an employee of the Department of 15 Transportation was driving a department vehicle northbound on 16 Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County, and 17 WHEREAS, on that same day, Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, having 18 completed an interview at the University of South Florida 19 Medical School, was traveling southbound on Interstate 75, and 20 WHEREAS, according to departmental policy, employees of the 21 department are required to ensure that all items used by the 22 department and stored on a department vehicle are appropriately 23 secured, and 24 WHEREAS, one such item used by the department was a 12-foot 25 extension ladder stored on the roof of the truck driven by the 26 department employee and the employee failed to ensure that the 27 ladder was secured to the vehicle before leaving the 28 department’s maintenance yard, and 29 WHEREAS, as the employee traveled northbound on Interstate 30 75 in the department vehicle, the extension ladder flew off the 31 roof into the northbound traffic traveling behind it, and 32 WHEREAS, the driver of the vehicle traveling behind the 33 department vehicle swerved to avoid hitting the ladder and, as a 34 result of the swerving movement, lost control of her vehicle, 35 veered to the left, crossed the Interstate 75 median, and struck 36 Dr. Aversa’s vehicle, killing Dr. Aversa instantly, and 37 WHEREAS, as a result of these events, the Estate of Dr. 38 Sherrill Lynn Aversa brought suit against the department for its 39 negligence in causing the death of Dr. Aversa, and 40 WHEREAS, after 3 years of litigation, the department 41 admitted liability for the accident and agreed to settle the 42 case, and 43 WHEREAS, the parties agreed to a consent judgment in the 44 amount of $800,000 solely against the department, with no 45 finding of comparative negligence against any other party, and 46 WHEREAS, the department has paid $150,000 to the Estate of 47 Dr. Aversa consistent with the statutory limits of liability set 48 forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, NOW, THEREFORE, 49 50 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 51 52 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 53 found and declared to be true. 54 Section 2. The Executive Office of the Governor is directed 55 to establish spending authority from unappropriated trust fund 56 balances of the Department of Transportation in the amount of 57 $650,000 to a new category titled “Relief: Estate of Dr. 58 Sherrill Lynn Aversa” as compensation to the Estate of Dr. 59 Sherrill Lynn Aversa for the death of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, 60 which amount includes attorney fees and costs. 61 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 62 a warrant, pursuant to the stipulated settlement agreement 63 executed by the Department of Transportation and the personal 64 representative of the estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, in the 65 amount of $650,000 upon funds of the Department of 66 Transportation not otherwise encumbered, and the Chief Financial 67 Officer is directed to pay the same sum out of such funds in the 68 State Treasury. 69 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of 70 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 71 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 72 compensation for this excess judgment claim and for all other 73 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 74 described in this act which resulted in the death of Dr. 75 Sherrill Lynn Aversa. The total amount paid for attorney fees, 76 lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to 77 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 78 this act. 79 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.