Florida Senate - 2019 (NP) SB 32 By Senator Flores 39-00096A-19 201932__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Dwella Nelson and Robert 3 Nelson by Palm Beach State College; providing for an 4 appropriation to compensate them for injuries and 5 damages sustained as a result of the negligence of 6 Palm Beach State College; providing a limitation on 7 the payment of attorney fees; providing an effective 8 date. 9 10 WHEREAS, on May 17, 2015, Dwella Nelson visited Palm Beach 11 State College in Palm Beach Gardens as an invitee of Palm Beach 12 State College and the Academy of Dance, Music & Theatre, Inc., 13 for her 5-year-old daughter’s dance recital at the Eissey Campus 14 Theatre, and 15 WHEREAS, Mrs. Nelson accompanied her daughter to the 16 dressing room trailer and when exiting the trailer, the ramp 17 beneath Mrs. Nelson collapsed, causing her to fall several feet 18 to the ground and sustain severe injuries, and 19 WHEREAS, on February 16, 2016, Mrs. Nelson and her husband 20 Robert Nelson filed suit against Palm Beach State College and 21 the Academy of Dance, Music & Theatre, Inc., in the Circuit 22 Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit, in and for Palm Beach 23 County, and 24 WHEREAS, on November 2, 2017, in response to a motion filed 25 by Mrs. and Mr. Nelson, the circuit court issued to Palm Beach 26 State College an order to show cause why it failed to timely 27 produce for Mrs. and Mr. Nelson a work order relating to an 28 inspection of the ramp 11 days before it collapsed, which noted 29 the wood of the ramp was sagging and may need to be rebraced, 30 and which was provided to Mrs. and Mr. Nelson only 2 weeks 31 before the scheduled trial, and 32 WHEREAS, on November 9, 2017, the court censured Palm Beach 33 State College for its late disclosure of the work order, and 34 WHEREAS, on March 14, 2018, the court granted a motion by 35 Mrs. and Mr. Nelson for sanctions and final judgment awarding 36 costs and fees, including attorney fees, deposition costs, and 37 expert witness time, against Palm Beach State College, finding 38 that on December 6, 2017, Palm Beach State College untimely 39 produced for Mrs. and Mr. Nelson yet another work order that was 40 dated the day of the ramp collapse, which revealed the ramp’s 41 wood was rotten, and finding that Palm Beach State College’s 42 discovery violations were extreme in nature, and 43 WHEREAS, after a trial, the jury returned a verdict on 44 April 11, 2018, in favor of Mrs. and Mr. Nelson, and 45 WHEREAS, on April 18, 2018, a final judgment was entered 46 against Palm Beach State College, awarding Dwella Nelson a sum 47 of $2,625,000 and Robert Nelson a sum of $80,000, and 48 WHEREAS, Palm Beach State College has paid $278,250 to 49 Dwella Nelson and Robert Nelson, and the balance of $2,426,750 50 remains unpaid, NOW, 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. Palm Beach State College is authorized and 57 directed to appropriate from funds not otherwise encumbered the 58 total amount of $2,426,750, and to draw warrants payable to 59 Dwella Nelson in the sum of $2,354,979 and to Robert Nelson in 60 the sum of $71,771, as compensation for injuries and damages 61 sustained. 62 Section 3. The amount paid by Palm Beach State College 63 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded 64 under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for 65 all present and future claims arising out of the factual 66 situation described in this act which resulted in injuries and 67 damages to Dwella Nelson and Robert Nelson. The total amount 68 paid for attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 69 percent of the total amount awarded under this act. 70 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.