HB 955

A bill to be entitled
2An act for the relief of Timothy Kulik and Theresa Ann
3Kulik by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
4Vehicles; providing an appropriation to compensate them
5for injuries and damages sustained as a result of the
6negligence of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
7Vehicles; providing an effective date.
9     WHEREAS, on March 30, 1996, Dr. Timothy Kulik, a dentist
10from South Bend, Indiana, and his family, including his wife
11Theresa Ann Kulik and their two teenage children, were en route
12from Indiana to South Florida on Interstate 75, and
13     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik's son, Michael Kulik, was driving
14the family vehicle as the Kuliks traveled Interstate 75 in
15Columbia County, Florida, heading southbound within an extended
16construction zone, and
17     WHEREAS, Michael Kulik had been following a grey van for
18some time, keeping up with traffic, traveling in the right lane,
19when Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James Bond pulled behind the
20Kulik vehicle and turned on his blue lights, indicating that the
21Kulik vehicle must pull over, and
22     WHEREAS, Michael Kulik, an inexperienced driver with less
23than 1 year of total driving experience, pulled the vehicle off
24the road onto a shoulder still within the construction zone at a
25point where there was no emergency lane, and
26     WHEREAS, the left rear tire of the vehicle came to rest on
27asphalt less than 6 inches off the right white line delineating
28the shoulder of the road, with the left front tire approximately
2918 inches onto the shoulder, and
30     WHEREAS, the two right wheels came to rest on grass due to
31the narrow shoulder created by ongoing construction in that
32area, and
33     WHEREAS, a large grassy area separated the roadway from a
34large rest area, and
35     WHEREAS, testimony indicated that the swale was gentle and
36dry, allowing for vehicles to pull well off the road without
37risk of getting struck, and
38     WHEREAS, the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, James Bond, in
39pulling the vehicle over, parked his vehicle approximately 15
40feet off of the roadway, and
41     WHEREAS, the pictures of the accident scene do not depict
42where Trooper Bond was parked at the time of the accident
43because he moved his vehicle after the fact, and
44     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond stated in deposition testimony that
45he noticed the proximity of the Kulik vehicle to the lanes of
46traffic and recognized the danger, but he did not feel it
47necessary to instruct Michael Kulik to move the vehicle further
48from the roadway because he felt that the family posed a flight
49risk, and
50     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond did have available a bullhorn to hail
51motorists from inside his vehicle but testified that his
52supervisors had discouraged its use, and
53     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond further failed to position his marked
54cruiser in a manner so as to alert oncoming motorists of the
55hazard he created and over which he had control, instead
56choosing to pull his automobile far off the roadway to an area
57of safety, and
58     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond approached the Kulik vehicle from the
59passenger side and engaged the driver through the passenger
60window, and
61     WHEREAS, when asked at trial, Trooper Bond testified that
62approaching the Kulik vehicle from the driver's side would have
63placed him in danger of passing motorists, and
64     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik was in the front passenger seat and
65was notably agitated by the fact that his son received a ticket
66when he was merely following his father's instructions in
67keeping up with traffic through this construction zone, and
68voiced his displeasure to Trooper Bond during the stop, and
69     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik testified that he used some
70profanity when told to shut up by Trooper Bond, and
71     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond denied memory of any profanity, and
72     WHEREAS, when the ticket had been issued, Timothy Kulik
73offered to replace Michael Kulik as the driver because the son
74was noticeably shaken by the incident, and
75     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik exited his seat and walked around
76the rear of the vehicle, heading up the driver's side of the
77Chevrolet Suburban, and
78     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik passed his son Michael near the rear
79wheel and walked to the front door which had been left ajar by
80his son, and
81     WHEREAS, unfortunately, Timothy Kulik has no memory of
82events from this point on, and
83     WHEREAS, expert testimony revealed that Timothy Kulik
84opened the driver's door using his left hand, and
85     WHEREAS, as he did so, a large motor home passed and
86impacted the open door pinning Timothy Kulik's entire left arm
87between the door and motor home, and
88     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik's left arm was practically severed
89in the impact, and
90     WHEREAS, as the motor home passed, it dragged Timothy Kulik
91and the door forward at high speed, throwing him around the door
92and forward onto the pavement in front of the truck, and
93     WHEREAS, the highway patrol policies and procedures clearly
94stated that a trooper is not to hesitate to direct a stopped
95motorist to an area of safety before instituting enforcement
96action, and
97     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond testified that he saw the proximity
98of the stopped Kulik car to the traffic lanes of Interstate 75
99but chose to leave the Kuliks in a position of danger, and
100     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond also allowed that, in his more than
10120-year career, he often saw motorists change drivers following
102a traffic stop, and
103     WHEREAS, Trooper Bond also acknowledged that the Florida
104Highway Patrol policy manual allowed for a trooper to instruct a
105motorist to stay in the vehicle, and
106     WHEREAS, because of a defense error, Trooper Bond's
107employment file was discussed in court and, as a result, it was
108revealed that Trooper Bond had been sanctioned more than once
109for displaying a very poor attitude, a fact that was key to
110substantiating Timothy Kulik's testimony that Trooper Bond was
111very abrasive when he approached the vehicle and baited Timothy
112Kulik into retaliating, and
113     WHEREAS, an emergency room physician and his wife, an
114emergency room nurse, were the first persons on the scene of the
115accident, and
116     WHEREAS, the couple rendered trauma care and assisted in
117stemming the tide of Timothy Kulik's profuse bleeding until
118local emergency teams arrived, and
119     WHEREAS, simply put, Dr. Timothy Kulik's left arm was
120shattered by the impact of the accident, and
121     WHEREAS, Dr. Kulik's arm, from the shoulder down to the
122wrist, was mangled, and no use of his hand or arm was possible
123for many months, and
124     WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik underwent seven or eight significant
125surgical procedures, and
126     WHEREAS, muscle transpositions have helped Dr. Kulik with
127simple grasp functions, but overall there is no dexterity to the
128left hand and minimal range of motion to the arm, and
129     WHEREAS, as a result of the accident of March 30, 1996, Dr.
130Timothy Kulik's arm is virtually useless, and
131     WHEREAS, Dr. Timothy Kulik was a dentist in South Bend,
132Indiana from 1976 to the present, opening his own practice in
1331995, and
134     WHEREAS, dentistry being a profession requiring the full
135use of both hands, Dr. Kulik is extremely limited in the types
136of procedures he can perform, with more costly and meticulous
137procedures such as crown placement being difficult to the point
138that Dr. Kulik can no longer perform them, and
139     WHEREAS, at trial, it was the intent of Timothy Kulik's
140legal representatives to prove that the motor home operator was
141negligent, minimizing the role of Trooper Bond after the first 2
142days of testimony, and
143     WHEREAS, for the remainder of the trial Timothy Kulik's
144attorneys concentrated on the motor home operator's actions,
145including during the closing argument when it was suggested that
146the jury find the Florida Highway Patrol minimally negligent,
148     WHEREAS, despite this, the jury returned with a verdict
149attributing 0-percent negligence to the motor home operator,
150approximately 46-percent negligence to Trooper Bond, and 54-
151percent negligence to Timothy Kulik, and
152     WHEREAS, the gross verdict in the trial was in the amount
153of $3,125,000 for Timothy Kulik and $50,000 for Theresa Ann
154Kulik for loss of consortium, and
155     WHEREAS, after reductions for comparative fault, judgment
156was entered against the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
157Vehicles in the sum of $1,437,500 for damages incurred by
158Timothy Kulik and $23,000 for damages incurred by Theresa Ann
161Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
163     Section 1.  The facts stated in the preamble to this act
164are found and declared to be true.
165     Section 2.  The sum of $1,437,500 is appropriated from the
166General Revenue Fund to the Department of Highway Safety and
167Motor Vehicles for the relief of Timothy Kulik as compensation
168for injuries and damages sustained.
169     Section 3.  The sum of $23,000 is appropriated from the
170General Revenue Fund to the Department of Highway Safety and
171Motor Vehicles for the relief of Theresa Ann Kulik as
172compensation for injuries and damages sustained.
173     Section 4.  The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
174a warrant in favor of Timothy Kulik in the sum of $1,437,500
175upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
176Vehicles in the State Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer
177is directed to pay the same out of such funds in the State
179     Section 5.  The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
180a warrant in favor of Theresa Ann Kulik in the sum of $23,000
181upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
182Vehicles in the State Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer
183is directed to pay the same out of such funds in the State
185     Section 6.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.