Florida Senate - 2019                              (NP)    SB 32
       By Senator Flores
       39-00096A-19                                            201932__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Dwella Nelson and Robert
    3         Nelson by Palm Beach State College; providing for an
    4         appropriation to compensate them for injuries and
    5         damages sustained as a result of the negligence of
    6         Palm Beach State College; providing a limitation on
    7         the payment of attorney fees; providing an effective
    8         date.
   10         WHEREAS, on May 17, 2015, Dwella Nelson visited Palm Beach
   11  State College in Palm Beach Gardens as an invitee of Palm Beach
   12  State College and the Academy of Dance, Music & Theatre, Inc.,
   13  for her 5-year-old daughter’s dance recital at the Eissey Campus
   14  Theatre, and
   15         WHEREAS, Mrs. Nelson accompanied her daughter to the
   16  dressing room trailer and when exiting the trailer, the ramp
   17  beneath Mrs. Nelson collapsed, causing her to fall several feet
   18  to the ground and sustain severe injuries, and
   19         WHEREAS, on February 16, 2016, Mrs. Nelson and her husband
   20  Robert Nelson filed suit against Palm Beach State College and
   21  the Academy of Dance, Music & Theatre, Inc., in the Circuit
   22  Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit, in and for Palm Beach
   23  County, and
   24         WHEREAS, on November 2, 2017, in response to a motion filed
   25  by Mrs. and Mr. Nelson, the circuit court issued to Palm Beach
   26  State College an order to show cause why it failed to timely
   27  produce for Mrs. and Mr. Nelson a work order relating to an
   28  inspection of the ramp 11 days before it collapsed, which noted
   29  the wood of the ramp was sagging and may need to be rebraced,
   30  and which was provided to Mrs. and Mr. Nelson only 2 weeks
   31  before the scheduled trial, and
   32         WHEREAS, on November 9, 2017, the court censured Palm Beach
   33  State College for its late disclosure of the work order, and
   34         WHEREAS, on March 14, 2018, the court granted a motion by
   35  Mrs. and Mr. Nelson for sanctions and final judgment awarding
   36  costs and fees, including attorney fees, deposition costs, and
   37  expert witness time, against Palm Beach State College, finding
   38  that on December 6, 2017, Palm Beach State College untimely
   39  produced for Mrs. and Mr. Nelson yet another work order that was
   40  dated the day of the ramp collapse, which revealed the ramp’s
   41  wood was rotten, and finding that Palm Beach State College’s
   42  discovery violations were extreme in nature, and
   43         WHEREAS, after a trial, the jury returned a verdict on
   44  April 11, 2018, in favor of Mrs. and Mr. Nelson, and
   45         WHEREAS, on April 18, 2018, a final judgment was entered
   46  against Palm Beach State College, awarding Dwella Nelson a sum
   47  of $2,625,000 and Robert Nelson a sum of $80,000, and
   48         WHEREAS, Palm Beach State College has paid $278,250 to
   49  Dwella Nelson and Robert Nelson, and the balance of $2,426,750
   50  remains unpaid, NOW, THEREFORE,
   52  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   54         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   55  found and declared to be true.
   56         Section 2. Palm Beach State College is authorized and
   57  directed to appropriate from funds not otherwise encumbered the
   58  total amount of $2,426,750, and to draw warrants payable to
   59  Dwella Nelson in the sum of $2,354,979 and to Robert Nelson in
   60  the sum of $71,771, as compensation for injuries and damages
   61  sustained.
   62         Section 3. The amount paid by Palm Beach State College
   63  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   64  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   65  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
   66  situation described in this act which resulted in injuries and
   67  damages to Dwella Nelson and Robert Nelson. The total amount
   68  paid for attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25
   69  percent of the total amount awarded under this act.
   70         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.