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. 10 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, 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 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.