Florida Senate - 2016 (NP) CS for SB 58 By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Abruzzo 590-02349-16 201658c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Q.B. by the Palm Beach County 3 School Board; providing for an appropriation to 4 compensate Q.B. for injuries sustained as a result of 5 the negligence of employees of the Palm Beach County 6 School District; providing a limitation on the payment 7 of fees and costs; providing that the appropriation 8 settles all present and future claims related to the 9 negligent act; providing an effective date. 10 11 WHEREAS, in January 2007, Q.B. was a 3-year-old exceptional 12 student education (ESE) student at Glade View Elementary School 13 in the Palm Beach County School District, and 14 WHEREAS, at that time, Q.B.’s speech and language 15 capabilities were developmentally delayed and Q.B. had virtually 16 no capacity for speech, and 17 WHEREAS, on January 16, 2007, a school bus owned by the 18 Palm Beach County School District was being driven by a bus 19 driver employed by the district with a bus aide, also employed 20 by the district, riding as a passenger, to transport Q.B. to her 21 home from Glade View Elementary School, and 22 WHEREAS, at the same time, a 15-year-old male high school 23 student who had emotional and behavioral disabilities and who 24 was considered severely emotionally disturbed by the Palm Beach 25 County School District, was also a passenger on the school bus, 26 and 27 WHEREAS, the 15-year-old male high school student left his 28 assigned bus seat, approached Q.B., and proceeded to sexually 29 assault Q.B. for approximately 15 minutes before the sexual 30 assault was discovered and stopped by the bus aide, and 31 WHEREAS, neither the bus driver or the bus aide made any 32 effort to require the 15-year-old male high school student to 33 return to his assigned seat in the wake of the sexual assault, 34 but allowed him to remain sitting next to Q.B. for the remainder 35 of the bus ride, and 36 WHEREAS, the duties of the bus driver and the bus aide 37 included supervising the students on the bus, ensuring that all 38 students were in compliance with bus safety rules, and ensuring 39 the safety of all students on the bus, and 40 WHEREAS, the bus driver and the bus aide failed to properly 41 supervise the 15-year-old male high school student, failed to 42 properly supervise Q.B., failed to ensure the safety of Q.B., 43 and, as a direct result of the breach of such duties, the 15 44 year-old male high school student was able to sexually assault 45 Q.B., and 46 WHEREAS, the sexual assault was captured on video by a 47 camera installed on the school bus, and the sexual assault 48 resulted in physical, emotional, and psychological trauma to 49 Q.B. and further diminished the quality of her life, and 50 WHEREAS, the Palm Beach County School Board is vicariously 51 liable for the negligence of the bus driver and the bus aide 52 under the doctrine of respondeat superior, s. 768.28(9)(a), 53 Florida Statutes, and, 54 WHEREAS, on January 6, 2010, the parents of Q.B. filed a 55 negligence action against the Palm Beach County School Board in 56 Palm Beach County Circuit Court, styled T.B. and S.W., as 57 Parents and Natural Guardians of Q.B., a minor, Plaintiff v. The 58 School Board of Palm Beach County, Defendant, Case No. 59 502010CA000194MBAA, to recover damages for the injuries 60 sustained by Q.B. due to the sexual assault, and 61 WHEREAS, 6 years after the sexual assault and 2 weeks 62 before the commencement of trial, the Palm Beach County School 63 Board admitted liability for negligence and the case proceeded 64 to trial only on the issue of damages, and 65 WHEREAS, on February 6, 2013, the jury returned a verdict 66 of $1.8 million to compensate Q.B. for her injuries and provide 67 for her future care and treatment, and 68 WHEREAS, the Palm Beach County School Board has paid 69 $100,000 of the judgment pursuant to the statutory limits of 70 liability under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and 71 WHEREAS, the parties have agreed to a settlement in the 72 amount of $600,000, which was approved on December 16, 2016, by 73 the Palm Beach County School Board, NOW, THEREFORE, 74 75 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 76 77 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 78 found and declared to be true. 79 Section 2. The Palm Beach County School Board is authorized 80 and directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not 81 otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in the sum of 82 $600,000, payable in two annual installments of $300,000 each, 83 which, after payment of fees, costs, and expenses as provided in 84 section 3, shall be placed in a special needs trust for the 85 exclusive use and benefit of Q.B to compensate her for injuries 86 and damages sustained. 87 Section 3. The total amount paid for attorney fees, 88 lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to 89 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 90 this act. 91 Section 4. The compensation awarded under this act is 92 intended to provide the sole compensation for all present and 93 future claims arising out of the factual situation described in 94 this act which resulted in the injuries to Q.B. 95 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.