Florida Senate - 2016                       (NP)    CS for SB 58
       By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Abruzzo
       590-02349-16                                            201658c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Q.B. by the Palm Beach County
    3         School Board; providing for an appropriation to
    4         compensate Q.B. for injuries sustained as a result of
    5         the negligence of employees of the Palm Beach County
    6         School District; providing a limitation on the payment
    7         of fees and costs; providing that the appropriation
    8         settles all present and future claims related to the
    9         negligent act; providing an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, in January 2007, Q.B. was a 3-year-old exceptional
   12  student education (ESE) student at Glade View Elementary School
   13  in the Palm Beach County School District, and
   14         WHEREAS, at that time, Q.B.’s speech and language
   15  capabilities were developmentally delayed and Q.B. had virtually
   16  no capacity for speech, and
   17         WHEREAS, on January 16, 2007, a school bus owned by the
   18  Palm Beach County School District was being driven by a bus
   19  driver employed by the district with a bus aide, also employed
   20  by the district, riding as a passenger, to transport Q.B. to her
   21  home from Glade View Elementary School, and
   22         WHEREAS, at the same time, a 15-year-old male high school
   23  student who had emotional and behavioral disabilities and who
   24  was considered severely emotionally disturbed by the Palm Beach
   25  County School District, was also a passenger on the school bus,
   26  and
   27         WHEREAS, the 15-year-old male high school student left his
   28  assigned bus seat, approached Q.B., and proceeded to sexually
   29  assault Q.B. for approximately 15 minutes before the sexual
   30  assault was discovered and stopped by the bus aide, and
   31         WHEREAS, neither the bus driver or the bus aide made any
   32  effort to require the 15-year-old male high school student to
   33  return to his assigned seat in the wake of the sexual assault,
   34  but allowed him to remain sitting next to Q.B. for the remainder
   35  of the bus ride, and
   36         WHEREAS, the duties of the bus driver and the bus aide
   37  included supervising the students on the bus, ensuring that all
   38  students were in compliance with bus safety rules, and ensuring
   39  the safety of all students on the bus, and
   40         WHEREAS, the bus driver and the bus aide failed to properly
   41  supervise the 15-year-old male high school student, failed to
   42  properly supervise Q.B., failed to ensure the safety of Q.B.,
   43  and, as a direct result of the breach of such duties, the 15
   44  year-old male high school student was able to sexually assault
   45  Q.B., and
   46         WHEREAS, the sexual assault was captured on video by a
   47  camera installed on the school bus, and the sexual assault
   48  resulted in physical, emotional, and psychological trauma to
   49  Q.B. and further diminished the quality of her life, and
   50         WHEREAS, the Palm Beach County School Board is vicariously
   51  liable for the negligence of the bus driver and the bus aide
   52  under the doctrine of respondeat superior, s. 768.28(9)(a),
   53  Florida Statutes, and,
   54         WHEREAS, on January 6, 2010, the parents of Q.B. filed a
   55  negligence action against the Palm Beach County School Board in
   56  Palm Beach County Circuit Court, styled T.B. and S.W., as
   57  Parents and Natural Guardians of Q.B., a minor, Plaintiff v. The
   58  School Board of Palm Beach County, Defendant, Case No.
   59  502010CA000194MBAA, to recover damages for the injuries
   60  sustained by Q.B. due to the sexual assault, and
   61         WHEREAS, 6 years after the sexual assault and 2 weeks
   62  before the commencement of trial, the Palm Beach County School
   63  Board admitted liability for negligence and the case proceeded
   64  to trial only on the issue of damages, and
   65         WHEREAS, on February 6, 2013, the jury returned a verdict
   66  of $1.8 million to compensate Q.B. for her injuries and provide
   67  for her future care and treatment, and
   68         WHEREAS, the Palm Beach County School Board has paid
   69  $100,000 of the judgment pursuant to the statutory limits of
   70  liability under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and
   71         WHEREAS, the parties have agreed to a settlement in the
   72  amount of $600,000, which was approved on December 16, 2016, by
   73  the Palm Beach County School Board, NOW, THEREFORE,
   75  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   77         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   78  found and declared to be true.
   79         Section 2. The Palm Beach County School Board is authorized
   80  and directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not
   81  otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in the sum of
   82  $600,000, payable in two annual installments of $300,000 each,
   83  which, after payment of fees, costs, and expenses as provided in
   84  section 3, shall be placed in a special needs trust for the
   85  exclusive use and benefit of Q.B to compensate her for injuries
   86  and damages sustained.
   87         Section 3. The total amount paid for attorney fees,
   88  lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to
   89  this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under
   90  this act.
   91         Section 4. The compensation awarded under this act is
   92  intended to provide the sole compensation for all present and
   93  future claims arising out of the factual situation described in
   94  this act which resulted in the injuries to Q.B.
   95         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.