Florida Senate - 2015                              (NP)    SB 30
       By Senator Montford
       3-00016-15                                              201530__
    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.
   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 well behind the
   18  other law enforcement vehicles, which had already cleared the
   19  intersection of Ridge Road and Regency Park Boulevard in Pasco
   20  County, and
   21         WHEREAS, while traveling eastbound on Ridge Road, Deputy
   22  Petrillo, who did not activate his vehicle’s siren or flashing
   23  lights, sped through the intersection on a red light at a speed
   24  of at least 20 miles per hour over the 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 thereafter, and did not return home until August 2005,
   41  and
   42         WHEREAS, Jennifer Wohlgemuth also 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, according to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, the
   72  Pasco County Sheriff’s Office paid the statutory limit of
   73  $100,000, and the amount $8,624,754.40 remains unpaid, NOW,
   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 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.