Florida Senate - 2022                       (NP)    CS for SB 70
       By the Committee on Appropriations; and Senators Rouson and
       576-03235-22                                            202270c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Donna Catalano by the
    3         Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;
    4         providing an appropriation to compensate Donna
    5         Catalano for injuries and damages sustained as a
    6         result of the negligence of Donald Gerard Burthe, an
    7         employee of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
    8         Services; providing a limitation on the payment of
    9         certain fees, costs, and other expenses; providing an
   10         effective date.
   12         WHEREAS, on June 26, 2019, Donald Gerard Burthe, an
   13  employee of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,
   14  while operating a department vehicle during his employment, was
   15  traveling west on U.S. Highway 90, and
   16         WHEREAS, Donna Catalano, returning home after completing
   17  her nursing shift at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, was
   18  traveling east on U.S. Highway 90, and
   19         WHEREAS, Mr. Burthe failed to maintain his lane of travel
   20  and crossed the center line of U.S. Highway 90, resulting in a
   21  head-on collision with Ms. Catalano’s vehicle, and
   22         WHEREAS, officers cited Mr. Burthe with a violation of s.
   23  316.089, Florida Statutes, for failing to use a designated lane
   24  and failing to drive within a single lane, and
   25         WHEREAS, Ms. Catalano was transported to the emergency
   26  department at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, suffering from a
   27  left side rib fracture, a left upper arm and forearm open
   28  fracture, a non-displaced fracture of the left leg, an open left
   29  femur distal fracture, distension of the abdomen, tenderness of
   30  the left ribs, and abrasions to the left side of her face, and
   31         WHEREAS, during the next four days, Ms. Catalano underwent
   32  six surgeries to repair the various injuries suffered as a
   33  result of the vehicular accident caused by Mr. Burthe, and
   34         WHEREAS, on July 5, 2019, Ms. Catalano was transferred to
   35  the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Rehabilitation Center by
   36  ambulance to begin physical therapy for her injuries, staying
   37  there for approximately 3 months until she was discharged in
   38  September 2019 to continue physical therapy at home, and
   39         WHEREAS, Ms. Catalano now suffers from chronic pain; mental
   40  anguish, stress, and anxiety; stiff, aching knees that require
   41  her to walk with a cane; an inability to straighten or lift her
   42  right arm; and incontinence, and
   43         WHEREAS, Ms. Catalano can no longer perform traditional
   44  nursing duties as a result of these injuries, and
   45         WHEREAS, Mr. Burthe, as an employee of the Department of
   46  Agriculture and Consumer Services, acting within the scope of
   47  his employment, owed a duty to Ms. Catalano to conduct himself
   48  in a reasonable manner and exercise reasonable care, but
   49  breached that duty by driving carelessly, and
   50         WHEREAS, on July 10, 2020, Ms. Catalano filed a lawsuit
   51  against the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to
   52  recover damages as a result of the negligent conduct of the
   53  department’s employee, Mr. Burthe, and
   54         WHEREAS, on July 15, 2021, the Department of Agriculture
   55  and Consumer Services and Ms. Catalano reached a settlement
   56  agreement for $3,375,000, of which $200,000 was paid by the
   57  Division of Risk Management, and
   58         WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
   59  Services supports Ms. Catalano’s efforts to seek the remainder
   60  of the agreed-upon compensation, and
   61         WHEREAS, due to the limits of s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
   62  at the time of the incident, Ms. Catalano has collected only
   63  $200,000 of her settlement agreement with the Department of
   64  Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the remainder may be
   65  recovered only through a claim bill approved by the Legislature,
   68  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   70         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   71  found and declared to be true.
   72         Section 2. The sum of $3,175,000 is appropriated from the
   73  General Inspection Trust Fund to the Department of Agriculture
   74  and Consumer Services for the relief of Donna Catalano for
   75  injuries and damages sustained.
   76         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   77  a warrant in favor of Donna Catalano in the sum of $3,175,000
   78  upon funds of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
   79  Services in the State Treasury and to pay the same out of such
   80  funds in the State Treasury.
   81         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Agriculture
   82  and Consumer Services pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
   83  and the amount awarded under this act are intended to provide
   84  the sole compensation for all present and future claims arising
   85  out of the factual situation described in this act which
   86  resulted in injuries and damages to Donna Catalano. The total
   87  amount paid for attorney fees relating to this claim may not
   88  exceed $635,000, the total amount paid for lobbying fees may not
   89  exceed $158,750, and the total amount paid for costs or other
   90  similar expenses may not exceed $29,059.94.
   91         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.