Florida Senate - 2015                       (NP)    CS for SB 22
       By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senators Bradley, Galvano,
       Bean, and Gibson
       590-01488-15                                            201522c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Joseph Stewart and Audrey
    3         Stewart on behalf of their son, Aubrey Stewart, by the
    4         City of Jacksonville; providing for an appropriation
    5         to compensate Aubrey Stewart for injuries and damages
    6         sustained as a result of the negligence of the City of
    7         Jacksonville; providing a limitation on the payment of
    8         fees and costs; providing for repayment of Medicaid
    9         liens; providing an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, on June 27, 2011, Aubrey Stewart, who was 15 years
   12  of age, briefly left his home at 1512 Dyal Street in
   13  Jacksonville, and
   14         WHEREAS, the tree across the street from Aubrey Stewart’s
   15  home, where he lives with his parents, Joseph and Audrey
   16  Stewart, was owned by the City of Jacksonville, and
   17         WHEREAS, a large tree limb, extending across Dyal Street,
   18  fell from the tree and crushed Aubrey Stewart, resulting in
   19  life-threatening injuries and leaving him paralyzed, and
   20         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville had received four
   21  complaints about the dangerous condition of the tree before the
   22  tree limb crushed Aubrey Stewart, yet failed to act, and
   23         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville’s records confirm that 9
   24  months before the accident, on September 7, 2010, the Stewarts’
   25  neighbor complained to the city about several trees along Dyal
   26  Street which needed to be trimmed due to falling tree limbs, and
   27         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville’s records confirm that a
   28  few days later, Joseph Stewart also filed a complaint with the
   29  city about two trees in dangerous condition on Dyal Street, and
   30         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville’s records confirm that
   31  the city received an additional complaint on January 6, 2011,
   32  about a falling tree limb that struck a car, and the city’s Risk
   33  Management Division investigated the claim and subsequently paid
   34  for the damage to the car, but failed to address the dangerous
   35  trees, and
   36         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville’s records confirm that on
   37  May 13, 2011, a neighbor called the city and reported that one
   38  of the trees that was the subject of previous complaints had
   39  fallen in the road and was blocking traffic, and the city
   40  responded by removing only the fallen debris, failing to remedy
   41  the continued and known dangerous condition, and
   42         WHEREAS, despite these four complaints, the City of
   43  Jacksonville took no action to address the dangerous tree on
   44  Dyal Street until almost a month after a limb from that tree
   45  crushed and critically injured Aubrey Stewart, and
   46         WHEREAS, as a result of the foregoing incident, Aubrey
   47  Stewart sustained multiple injuries, including, but not limited
   48  to, multiple spinal fractures with a complete spinal cord
   49  injury, an open pelvic fracture wound, a complex anal
   50  laceration, a left lateral buttocks wound, a large perineal
   51  wound, and multiple abscesses, and
   52         WHEREAS, Aubrey Stewart spent 5 months in the Shands’
   53  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where he underwent approximately
   54  a dozen surgeries to stabilize his condition, and spent an
   55  additional month at Brooks Rehabilitation, and
   56         WHEREAS, Aubrey Stewart is now paralyzed and confined to a
   57  wheelchair, depends on others for many daily life activities,
   58  and must wear diapers and use a catheter and colostomy bag, and
   59         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville recognizes the potential
   60  for a sizeable jury verdict in favor of Aubrey Stewart, given
   61  the liability and damages stemming from the city’s negligence,
   62  and
   63         WHEREAS, during court-ordered mediation on May 8, 2013, the
   64  City of Jacksonville agreed to pay $200,000 under the statutory
   65  limits of liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
   66  within 60 days and then $3.3 million, to be paid in installments
   67  in order to minimize any potential financial impact on the city,
   68  and
   69         WHEREAS, the negotiated settlement agreement was designed
   70  with the claim bill process specifically in mind, is in the best
   71  interest of all parties involved, and was passed unanimously by
   72  the Jacksonville City Council on July 23, 2013, and
   73         WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville fully supports the
   74  passage of this claim bill, NOW, THEREFORE,
   76  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   78         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   79  found and declared to be true.
   80         Section 2. The City of Jacksonville is authorized and
   81  directed to appropriate from funds of the city not otherwise
   82  appropriated and to draw a warrant in the sum of $1.2 million,
   83  less the amount paid for repayment of Medicaid liens, payable to
   84  the Aubrey Javaris Stewart Special Needs Trust, by the first
   85  November 1 after the passage of this act as compensation for
   86  injuries and damages sustained as a result of the negligence of
   87  the City of Jacksonville. In addition, the City of Jacksonville
   88  is further authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of
   89  the city not otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in the
   90  sum of $1 million payable to the Aubrey Javaris Stewart Special
   91  Needs Trust, 1 year from the first payment; the sum of $600,000,
   92  1 year from the second payment; and the sum of $500,000, 1 year
   93  from the third payment, for a total of $3.3 million as
   94  compensation for injuries and damages sustained as a result of
   95  the negligence of the City of Jacksonville.
   96         Section 3. The amount paid by the City of Jacksonville
   97  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   98  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   99  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
  100  situation described in the preamble to this act which resulted
  101  in the injuries and damages to Aubrey Stewart, and to release
  102  the city from any further liability. The total amount paid for
  103  attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses
  104  relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount
  105  awarded under this act.
  106         Section 4. The City of Jacksonville shall pay to the Agency
  107  for Health Care Administration the amount due under s. 409.910,
  108  Florida Statutes, before disbursing any funds to the claimant.
  109  The amount due to the agency shall be equal to all unreimbursed
  110  medical payments paid by Medicaid up to the date that this bill
  111  becomes a law.
  112         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.