Florida Senate - 2018 (NP) SB 40 By Senator Thurston 33-00252-18 201840__ 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 a limitation on the 11 payment of attorney fees; providing an effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, on June 21, 1999, an employee of the Department of 14 Transportation was driving a department vehicle north on 15 Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County, and 16 WHEREAS, on that same day, Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, having 17 completed an interview at the University of South Florida 18 Medical School, was traveling south on Interstate 75, and 19 WHEREAS, according to departmental policy, employees of the 20 department are required to ensure that all items used by the 21 department and stored on a department vehicle are appropriately 22 secured, and 23 WHEREAS, one such item used by the department was a 12-foot 24 extension ladder stored on the roof of the truck driven by the 25 department employee and the employee failed to ensure that the 26 ladder was secured to the vehicle before leaving the 27 department’s maintenance yard, and 28 WHEREAS, as the employee traveled north on Interstate 75 in 29 the department vehicle, the extension ladder flew off the roof 30 into the northbound traffic traveling behind the department 31 vehicle, 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 southbound vehicle, killing Dr. Aversa instantly, 37 and 38 WHEREAS, as a result of these events, the Estate of Dr. 39 Sherrill Lynn Aversa brought suit against the department for its 40 negligence in causing the death of Dr. Aversa, and 41 WHEREAS, after 3 years of litigation, the department 42 admitted liability for the accident and agreed to settle the 43 case, and 44 WHEREAS, the parties agreed to a consent judgment in the 45 amount of $800,000 solely against the department, with no 46 finding of comparative negligence against any other party, and 47 WHEREAS, the department has paid $150,000 to the Estate of 48 Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa consistent with the statutory limits of 49 liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, NOW, 50 THEREFORE, 51 52 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 53 54 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 55 found and declared to be true. 56 Section 2. The Executive Office of the Governor is directed 57 to establish spending authority from unappropriated trust fund 58 balances of the Department of Transportation in the amount of 59 $650,000 to a new category titled “Relief: Estate of Dr. 60 Sherrill Lynn Aversa” as compensation to the Estate of Dr. 61 Sherrill Lynn Aversa for the death of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, 62 which amount includes attorney fees and costs. 63 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 64 a warrant, pursuant to the stipulated settlement agreement 65 executed by the Department of Transportation and the personal 66 representative of the Estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, in the 67 amount of $650,000 upon funds of the Department of 68 Transportation not otherwise encumbered, and the Chief Financial 69 Officer is directed to pay the same sum out of such funds in the 70 State Treasury. 71 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of 72 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 73 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 74 compensation for this excess judgment claim and for all other 75 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 76 described in this act which resulted in the death of Dr. 77 Sherrill Lynn Aversa. The total amount paid for attorney fees 78 relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount 79 awarded under this act. 80 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.