Florida Senate - 2017                              (NP)    SB 36
       By Senator Montford
       3-00034A-17                                             201736__
    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 compensation,
    8         fees, and 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 traveling eastbound
   18  on Ridge Road, well behind the other law enforcement vehicles,
   19  which had already cleared the intersection of Ridge Road and
   20  Regency Park Boulevard in Pasco County, and
   21         WHEREAS, Deputy Petrillo did not activate his vehicle’s
   22  siren or flashing lights and sped through the intersection on a
   23  red light at a speed of at least 20 miles per hour over the
   24  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 of the accident
   35  found that Deputy Petrillo violated the policies of the Pasco
   36  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 after emerging from the coma, and did not return home
   41  until August 2005, and
   42         WHEREAS, Jennifer Wohlgemuth 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 10-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 is under the
   57  guardianship of Traci Wohlgemuth, and
   58         WHEREAS, a 3-day bench trial was held in the Sixth Judicial
   59  Circuit in the case of Traci Wohlgemuth, as guardian of Jennifer
   60  K. Wohlgemuth, an incompetent, v. Robert White, as Sheriff of
   61  Pasco County, Florida, which was assigned case number 51-2007
   62  CA-000859, and on March 12, 2009, the trial court rendered a
   63  verdict in Jennifer Wohlgemuth’s favor, awarding her total
   64  damages of $9,141,267.32, and
   65         WHEREAS, the trial court found that Deputy Petrillo was 95
   66  percent responsible for Jennifer Wohlgemuth’s injuries and that
   67  Ms. Wohlgemuth was responsible for the remaining 5 percent due
   68  to her alleged failure to wear a seat belt, and
   69         WHEREAS, on August 4, 2009, the trial court entered its
   70  amended final judgment in the amount of $8,724,754.40, and
   71         WHEREAS, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office appealed the
   72  amended final judgment to the Second District Court of Appeal,
   73  and the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s final
   74  judgment on March 10, 2010, and
   75         WHEREAS, in accordance with s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
   76  the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office paid the statutory limit of
   77  $100,000, and the remaining amount of $8,624,754.40 remains
   78  unpaid, and
   79         WHEREAS, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Jennifer
   80  Wohlgemuth have since entered into a settlement agreement
   81  regarding the unpaid amount, with the sheriff’s office promising
   82  to make annual payments to Ms. Wohlgemuth and agreeing not to
   83  oppose this claim bill, NOW, THEREFORE,
   85  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   87         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   88  found and declared to be true.
   89         Section 2. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is authorized
   90  and directed to appropriate from funds of the sheriff’s office
   91  and to pay Jennifer Wohlgemuth the settlement amount of $2.6
   92  million as compensation for injuries and damages sustained due
   93  to the negligence of an employee of the sheriff’s office.
   94  Payment shall be made in the amount of $325,000 per year for 8
   95  consecutive years. The first payment must be made no later than
   96  October 31, 2017. Payments must be made by October 31 each
   97  subsequent year until paid in full. However, if Jennifer
   98  Wohlgemuth dies before October 31, 2024, payments shall cease
   99  with her death and the award under this act shall be deemed paid
  100  in full.
  101         Section 3. The amount paid by the Pasco County Sheriff’s
  102  Office under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
  103  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
  104  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
  105  situation described in this act which resulted in the injuries
  106  and damages to Jennifer Wohlgemuth. The total amount paid for
  107  attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses
  108  relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount
  109  awarded under this act.
  110         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.