HB 763

A bill to be entitled
2An act for the relief of the Estate of Christian
3Stephenson, Amie O'Brien (formerly Amie Draiemann
4Stephenson), Hailey Morgan Stephenson, and Christian Darby
5Stephenson, II, by the Department of Transportation;
6providing for the relief of the Estate of Christian
7Stephenson, Amie O'Brien, individually, and as Personal
8Representative of the Estate of Christian Darby
9Stephenson, deceased, and for the relief of Hailey Morgan
10Stephenson and Christian Darby Stephenson, II, as
11surviving minor children of the decedent, by and through
12their mother, Amie O'Brien; providing an appropriation to
13compensate them for the wrongful death of Christian
14Stephenson, which was due in part to the negligence of the
15Department of Transportation; providing for attorney's
16fees and costs; providing a limitation on attorney's fees,
17lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating
18to the claim; providing for use of funds; providing an
19effective date.
21     WHEREAS, on August 12, 2000, 29-year-old Christian
22Stephenson was driving a gasoline tanker eastbound on the Hart
23Bridge Expressway in Duval County, and
24     WHEREAS, at the base of the bridge was a large pool of
25standing water which was caused by a clogged drain, and
26     WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation was responsible
27for the maintenance of the Hart Bridge Expressway drains at that
28location, and
29     WHEREAS, as Mr. Stephenson drove over the bridge, a Jeep
30that was traveling toward the tanker hit the puddle and
31hydroplaned, and
32     WHEREAS, Christian Stephenson took evasive action to avoid
33hitting the Jeep and also to avoid two other vehicles that had
34been involved in previous accidents and were parked in the
35striped safety zone alongside the expressway, and
36     WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson attempted to make a hard right turn
37onto the Atlantic Avenue exit so as to avoid those three other
38vehicles, but, as he tried to take the exit, the gasoline tanker
39jackknifed, struck the guardrail, overturned, and exploded, and
40     WHEREAS, Christian Stephenson was subsequently pronounced
41dead at the scene, and
42     WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson's widow brought suit against the
43department in the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit,
44in and for Duval County, Florida (Case No. 01-03428 CA), and, on
45March 22, 2005, the jury returned a verdict that charged the
46Department of Transportation with 36 percent of the negligence
47that was a legal cause of Mr. Stephenson's death, and
48     WHEREAS, the jury verdict states the jury's determination
49that the total amount of damages sustained by Christian
50Stephenson's estate is $1.3 million; the total amount sustained
51by Amie O'Brien is $763,000; the total amount sustained by
52Hailey Morgan Stephenson is $1 million, and the total amount
53sustained by Christian Darby Stephenson, II, is $526,000, and
54     WHEREAS, when the aggregate sum of these damages is
55multiplied by 36 percent, the sum awarded to Mr. Stephenson's
56estate and the named survivors under the final judgment is
57$1,292,040, plus taxable costs, and
58     WHEREAS, after the Department of Transportation has paid
59$175,100, as allowed under section 768.28, Florida Statutes, the
60remainder subject to award under this act is $1,116,940, NOW,
63Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
65     Section 1.  The facts stated in the preamble to this act
66are found and declared to be true.
67     Section 2.  (1)  The Executive Office of the Governor is
68directed to establish spending authority from unappropriated
69trust fund balances in the Department of Transportation in the
70amount of $1,116,940 to a new category titled: "Relief of the
71Estate of Christian Stephenson, Amie O'Brien, Hailey Morgan
72Stephenson, and Christian Darby Stephenson, II," as relief for
73injuries and damages sustained, which amount includes attorney's
74fees and costs.
75     (2)  Any amount awarded under this act pursuant to the
76waiver of sovereign immunity permitted under s. 768.28, Florida
77Statutes, and subsection (1) is intended to provide the sole
78compensation for all present and future claims arising out of
79the factual situation described in the preamble to this act
80which resulted in the death of Christian Stephenson. The total
81amount paid for attorney's fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other
82similar expenses relating to this claim may not exceed 25
83percent of the amount awarded under subsection (1).
84     Section 3.  The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
85a warrant in favor of Amie O'Brien in the sum of $1,092,040 plus
86taxable costs upon funds of the Department of Transportation in
87the State Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed
88to pay the same out of such funds in the State Treasury, as
90     (1)  $404,575.65 to the Estate of Christian Stephenson.
91     (2)  $237,454.78 to Amie O'Brien.
92     (3)  $311,212.04 to Amie O'Brien, which shall be used in
93its entirety to purchase an annuity for the exclusive use and
94benefit of Hailey Morgan Stephenson, a minor.
95     (4)  $163,697.53 to Amie O'Brien, which shall be used in
96its entirety to purchase an annuity for the exclusive use and
97benefit of Christian Darby Stephenson, II, a minor.
98     Section 4.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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