Florida Senate - 2019 (NP) SB 42 By Senator Taddeo 40-00051-19 201942__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Jorge L. Dominguez, Chelsea 3 Beatrice Dominguez, Brittney Delores Dominguez, and 4 Tori Alexis Dominguez by Hillsborough County; 5 providing for an appropriation to compensate them for 6 the wrongful death of Darcia Lynn Dominguez, which 7 occurred as the result of the negligence of 8 Hillsborough County and one of its employees; 9 providing a limitation on the payment of compensation 10 and attorney fees; providing an effective date. 11 12 WHEREAS, on February 26, 2010, Darcia Lynn Dominguez, a 39 13 year-old licensed registered nurse, was driving northbound on 14 Veterans Expressway in Tampa, and 15 WHEREAS, on the morning in question, Santiago Hasbun, an 16 employee of Hillsborough County, acting in the regular course 17 and scope of his employment duties and with the express consent 18 of Hillsborough County, was operating a tractor-trailer owned by 19 Hillsborough County northbound on Veterans Expressway, and 20 WHEREAS, Mr. Hasbun negligently operated the tractor 21 trailer when he failed to remove the vehicle from the traveled 22 portion of the highway despite a warning from the vehicle 23 management and control system of impending engine failure, which 24 warning continued for a period of at least 15 minutes before the 25 engine shut down, and despite the availability of a 24-foot to 26 37-foot grass median onto to which he could have traveled and 27 parked the tractor-trailer, and 28 WHEREAS, Mr. Hasbun violated Florida law by failing to 29 timely exit the tractor-trailer or to remove it from the 30 traveled portion of the roadway prior to the engine breakdown 31 and, thereafter, by failing to warn approaching motorists of the 32 hazard posed by the vehicle by not placing statutorily required 33 emergency triangles or cones in the proper location at the rear 34 of the vehicle, the purpose of such placement being to apprise 35 approaching motorists of the hazard at a sufficient distance to 36 allow them to stop or take evasive action, and 37 WHEREAS, Hillsborough County, through its Fleet Management 38 Department, was negligent in its servicing and maintenance of 39 the tractor-trailer driven by Mr. Hasbun, which resulted in an 40 electrical failure, which prevented the operation of the 41 tractor-trailer’s emergency flashing lights, and 42 WHEREAS, the combined negligence of Hillsborough County and 43 its employee, Mr. Hasbun, proximately caused Ms. Dominguez to 44 crash into the back of the tractor-trailer, which had come to a 45 complete stop on the traveled portion of the roadway, and 46 WHEREAS, at the time of her death as a result of the crash, 47 Ms. Dominguez was the spouse of Jorge L. Dominguez and the 48 mother of their three daughters, Tori Alexis Dominguez, then 10 49 years of age; Brittney Delores Dominguez, then 16 years of age; 50 and Chelsea Beatrice Dominguez, then 18 years of age, and 51 WHEREAS, in accordance with the Wrongful Death Act, Mr. 52 Dominguez commenced a legal action against Hillsborough County 53 in Tampa on behalf of the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez and 54 her surviving spouse and daughters, and 55 WHEREAS, after years of litigation, Hillsborough County on 56 December 13, 2016, acknowledged its negligence and that of its 57 employee and entered into a consent judgment for $600,000, of 58 which Hillsborough County has paid its sovereign immunity limit 59 of $200,000, and 60 WHEREAS, in a separate, confidential settlement, the 61 county’s excess insurance carrier, Star Insurance Company, paid 62 an additional, confidential amount to the plaintiff and, by 63 virtue of the consent judgment and the settlement agreement 64 reached between the parties, Hillsborough County has agreed that 65 it is liable to the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez for an 66 additional $400,000 in damages, to be paid in two equal 67 installments over the course of 2 years, with the first $200,000 68 payment to be made during the October following the effective 69 date of this act, and the second $200,000 payment to be made 70 during October of the immediately following year, and 71 WHEREAS, Hillsborough County has acknowledged that a 72 reasonable estimate of the damages recoverable for the four 73 statutory survivors of Ms. Dominguez is between $4 million and 74 $8 million and forensic estimates of her lifetime earnings, 75 recoverable as damages for loss of net accumulations to her 76 estate, amounted to an additional $1.7 million, and 77 WHEREAS, Hillsborough County consents to and fully supports 78 the passage of this act, NOW, THEREFORE, 79 80 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 81 82 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 83 found and declared to be true. 84 Section 2. Hillsborough County is authorized and directed 85 to appropriate from funds not otherwise encumbered and to draw 86 two warrants in the sum of $200,000 each, payable to the Estate 87 of Darcia Lynn Dominguez. The first $200,000 shall be paid 88 during the October following the effective date of this act, and 89 the second $200,000 shall be paid during October of the 90 immediately following year. 91 Section 3. The amount paid by Hillsborough County pursuant 92 to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under 93 this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all 94 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 95 described in this act which resulted in the death of Darcia Lynn 96 Dominguez. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to 97 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 98 this act. 99 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.