Florida Senate - 2015                              (NP)    SB 70
       By Senator Flores
       37-00064-15                                             201570__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Amie Draiemann Stephenson,
    3         individually and as personal representative of the
    4         Estate of Christian Darby Stephenson, deceased, and
    5         for the relief of Hailey Morgan Stephenson and
    6         Christian Darby Stephenson II as surviving minor
    7         children of the decedent; providing an appropriation
    8         to compensate them for the wrongful death of Christian
    9         Darby Stephenson, which was due in part to the
   10         negligence of the Department of Transportation;
   11         providing a limitation on the payment of fees and
   12         costs; providing an effective date.
   14         WHEREAS, on August 12, 2000, 29-year-old Christian Darby
   15  Stephenson was driving a gasoline tanker eastbound on the Hart
   16  Bridge Expressway in Duval County, and
   17         WHEREAS, a clogged drain had caused a large pool of
   18  standing water to collect at the base of the bridge, and
   19         WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation was responsible
   20  for the maintenance of the drains at that location on the Hart
   21  Bridge Expressway, and
   22         WHEREAS, as Mr. Stephenson drove over the bridge, a Jeep
   23  that was traveling toward the tanker hit the puddle and
   24  hydroplaned, and
   25         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson took evasive action to avoid
   26  hitting the Jeep, as well as two other vehicles that had been
   27  involved in previous accidents and were parked in the striped
   28  safety zone alongside the expressway, and
   29         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson attempted to make a hard right turn
   30  onto the Atlantic Avenue exit so as to avoid the three vehicles,
   31  but, as he attempted to exit, the gasoline tanker jackknifed,
   32  struck the guardrail, overturned, and exploded, and
   33         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson was subsequently pronounced dead at
   34  the scene, and
   35         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson’s widow, Amie Draiemann Stephenson,
   36  brought suit against the Department of Transportation in the
   37  Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit in and for Duval
   38  County, Case No. 01-03428 CA, and, on March 22, 2005, the jury
   39  returned a verdict that assigned the Department of
   40  Transportation with 36 percent of the negligence that was a
   41  legal cause of Mr. Stephenson’s death, and
   42         WHEREAS, the jury verdict states the jury’s determination
   43  that the total amount of damages sustained by Mr. Stephenson’s
   44  estate is $1.3 million; the total amount sustained by Amie
   45  Draiemann Stephenson, the widow of Mr. Stephenson, is $763,000;
   46  the total amount sustained by Hailey Morgan Stephenson, a
   47  surviving minor child of Mr. Stephenson, is $1 million; and the
   48  total amount sustained by Christian Darby Stephenson II, a
   49  surviving minor child of Mr. Stephenson, is $526,000, and
   50         WHEREAS, 36 percent of the aggregate sum of the damages
   51  awarded to Mr. Stephenson’s estate and the named survivors under
   52  the final judgment is $1,292,040, plus taxable costs, and
   53         WHEREAS, after the Department of Transportation has paid
   54  $200,000, as allowed under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, the
   55  remainder subject to being awarded under this act is $1,092,040,
   56  plus taxable costs, NOW, THEREFORE,
   58  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   60         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   61  found and declared to be true.
   62         Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue
   63  Fund to the Department of Transportation the sum of $1,092,040
   64  for the relief of Amie Draiemann Stephenson, as Personal
   65  Representative of the Estate of Christian Darby Stephenson, for
   66  the wrongful death of Christian Darby Stephenson.
   67         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   68  a warrant in the sum of $1,092,040, plus taxable costs, upon the
   69  funds of the Department of Transportation in the State Treasury
   70  not otherwise appropriated payable to Amie Draiemann Stephenson,
   71  as Personal Representative of the Estate of Christian Darby
   72  Stephenson, to compensate Mrs. Stephenson and the surviving
   73  minor children of Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson, Hailey Morgan
   74  Stephenson and Christian Darby Stephenson II, for the wrongful
   75  death of Christian Darby Stephenson.
   76         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of
   77  Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the
   78  amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole
   79  compensation for all present and future claims arising out of
   80  the factual situation described in this act which resulted in
   81  the death of Mr. Stephenson. The total amount paid for attorney
   82  fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating
   83  to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded
   84  under this act.
   85         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.