Florida Senate - 2015 CS for SB 70 By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Flores 590-02820-15 201570c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Amie Draiemann O’Brien, 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. 13 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 O’Brien, 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 O’Brien, the widow of Mr. Stephenson, is $763,000; the 46 total amount sustained by Hailey Morgan Stephenson, a surviving 47 minor child of Mr. Stephenson, is $1 million; and the total 48 amount sustained by Christian Darby Stephenson II, a surviving 49 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, and 53 WHEREAS, after the payment of $24,900 to third parties who 54 brought claims against the Department of Transportation for 55 damages claimed as result of the same occurrence, the Department 56 of Transportation has paid to the Stephensons a total of 57 $175,100, under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, the remainder 58 subject to being awarded under this act is $1,116,940, NOW, 59 THEREFORE, 60 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 61 62 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 63 found and declared to be true. 64 Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue 65 Fund to the Department of Transportation the sum of $1,116,940 66 for the relief of Amie Draiemann O’Brien, as Personal 67 Representative of the Estate of Christian Darby Stephenson, for 68 the wrongful death of Christian Darby Stephenson. 69 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 70 warrants in the sum of $1,116,940 upon the funds of the 71 Department of Transportation in the State Treasury not otherwise 72 appropriated, payable as follows: 73 (1) The sum of $404,575.65, to the Estate of Christian 74 Darby Stephenson; 75 (2) The sum of $237,454.78, to compensate Amie Draiemann 76 O’Brien; 77 (3) The sum of $311,212.04, to be paid into a trust to 78 compensate Hailey Morgan Stephenson; and 79 (4) The sum of $163,697.53, to be paid into a trust to 80 compensate Christian Darby Stephenson II. 81 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of 82 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 83 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 84 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 85 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 86 the death of Mr. Stephenson. The total amount paid for attorney 87 fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating 88 to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded 89 under this act. 90 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.