Florida Senate - 2016 (NP) SB 62 By Senator Montford 3-00197-16 201662__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Jennifer Wohlgemuth by the 3 Pasco County Sheriff’s Office; providing for an 4 appropriation to compensate her for injuries and 5 damages sustained as a result of the negligence of an 6 employee of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office; 7 providing a limitation on the payment of fees and 8 costs; providing an effective date. 9 10 WHEREAS, in the early morning of January 3, 2005, 21-year 11 old Jennifer Wohlgemuth was lawfully and properly operating her 12 vehicle and traveling southbound on Regency Park Boulevard, and 13 WHEREAS, at the same time, Deputy Kenneth Petrillo, an 14 officer of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office was driving one of 15 four law enforcement vehicles engaged in a high-speed pursuit, 16 and 17 WHEREAS, Deputy Petrillo’s vehicle was traveling eastbound 18 on Ridge Road, well behind the other law enforcement vehicles, 19 which had already cleared the intersection of Ridge Road and 20 Regency Park Boulevard in Pasco County, and 21 WHEREAS, Deputy Petrillo did not activate his vehicle’s 22 siren or flashing lights and sped through the intersection on a 23 red light at a speed of at least 20 miles per hour over the 24 posted speed limit, and 25 WHEREAS, Deputy Petrillo’s vehicle violently struck the 26 passenger side of Jennifer Wohlgemuth’s vehicle as she entered 27 the intersection on a green light while observing the speed 28 limit, and 29 WHEREAS, none of the numerous witnesses to the crash heard 30 Deputy Petrillo’s siren or saw flashing lights, and 31 WHEREAS, after the crash, Deputy Petrillo’s siren switch 32 was found to be in the radio mode, which indicates that the 33 siren was not activated at the time of the crash, and 34 WHEREAS, an internal affairs investigation into the 35 accident found that Deputy Petrillo violated the policies of the 36 Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and he was suspended for 30 days 37 without pay and subjected to other disciplinary measures, and 38 WHEREAS, as a result of the accident, Jennifer Wohlgemuth 39 was in a coma for 3 weeks, was unable to speak for several 40 months after emerging from the coma, and did not return home 41 until August 2005, and 42 WHEREAS, Jennifer Wohlgemuth suffered profound brain 43 injuries, including a subdural hematoma of the right frontal 44 lobe and subarachnoid hemorrhage that resulted in the removal of 45 a portion of her skull, and 46 WHEREAS, due to the damage to her frontal lobe, Jennifer 47 Wohlgemuth’s behavior and impulse control are similar to those 48 of a 7-year-old child and require that she be supervised 24 49 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 50 WHEREAS, Jennifer Wohlgemuth currently suffers from severe 51 memory loss, partial loss of vision, lack of balance, urinary 52 problems, anxiety, depression, dysarthric speech, acne, and 53 weight fluctuations, and 54 WHEREAS, as a result of her significant memory impairment 55 and lack of judgment, Jennifer Wohlgemuth is unable to drive, 56 work at a job, or live independently, and 57 WHEREAS, a 3-day bench trial was held in the Sixth Judicial 58 Circuit, and, on March 12, 2009, the trial court rendered a 59 verdict in Jennifer Wohlgemuth’s favor, awarding total damages 60 of $9,141,267.32, and 61 WHEREAS, the trial court found that Deputy Petrillo was 95 62 percent responsible for Jennifer Wohlgemuth’s injuries and that 63 Jennifer was responsible for the remaining 5 percent due to her 64 alleged failure to wear a seat belt, and 65 WHEREAS, on August 4, 2009, the trial court entered its 66 amended final judgment in the amount of $8,724,754.40, and 67 WHEREAS, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office appealed the 68 amended final judgment to the Second District Court of Appeal, 69 and the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s final 70 judgment on March 10, 2010, and 71 WHEREAS, in accordance with s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, 72 the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office paid the statutory limit of 73 $100,000, and the remaining amount of $8,624,754.40 remains 74 unpaid, NOW, THEREFORE, 75 76 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 77 78 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 79 found and declared to be true. 80 Section 2. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is authorized 81 and directed to appropriate from funds of the sheriff’s office 82 not otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in the amount 83 of $8,624,754.40, payable to Jennifer Wohlgemuth, as 84 compensation for injuries and damages sustained due to the 85 negligence of an employee of the sheriff’s office. 86 Section 3. The amount paid by the Pasco County Sheriff’s 87 Office pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount 88 awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 89 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 90 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 91 the injuries to Jennifer Wohlgemuth. The total amount paid for 92 attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses 93 relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount 94 awarded under this act. 95 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.