Florida Senate - 2012 (NP) SB 74 By Senator Latvala 16-00203-12 201274__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Marianne Beauregard and the 3 Estate of Ronald Avallone by the Marion County 4 Sheriff’s Office; providing for an appropriation to 5 compensate them for injuries sustained as the result 6 of the negligence of an employee of the Marion County 7 Sheriff’s Office; providing a limitation on the 8 payment of fees and costs; providing an effective 9 date. 10 11 WHEREAS, on November 30, 2005, Ronald Avallone, the late 12 husband of claimant Marianne Beauregard, was lawfully driving 13 his vehicle in a westerly direction on County Road 25 near 14 Belleview, Florida, and 15 WHEREAS, at that same time and place Darius P. Medina, an 16 employee of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, was operating a 17 vehicle owned by and with the knowledge and consent of the 18 sheriff’s office and was travelling east on County Road 25, and 19 WHEREAS, Darius Medina suddenly and negligently steered his 20 vehicle across the center line and entered into the path of 21 Ronald Avallone’s lane of traffic and caused a violent, head-on 22 crash between the two vehicles, and 23 WHEREAS, as a direct result of the crash, Mr. Avallone 24 suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his right 25 lower extremity, neck and back injuries, and a painful injury to 26 his right wrist, thereby necessitating many surgeries, including 27 a left knee replacement, and 28 WHEREAS, as a result of the crash, Mr. Avallone also 29 suffered from cognitive impairments, including memory lapses, 30 sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, posttraumatic stress 31 disorder, and depression, and 32 WHEREAS, the cost of the surgeries and medical care from 33 dozens of health care providers and rehabilitative facilities 34 that treated Mr. Avallone exceeded $450,517.63, and 35 WHEREAS, despite the extensive medical care for his many 36 injuries, Mr. Avallone’s health never returned to his pre 37 accident condition, and due to the physical limitations, 38 immobility, and disabilities caused by the accident, his health 39 deteriorated, and 40 WHEREAS, on December 7, 2010, Mr. Avallone died as the 41 result of cardiac arrest, and his cardiologist specifically 42 attributed his injuries and postinjury deterioration as the 43 contributing cause to his death, and 44 WHEREAS, Marianne Beauregard, the wife of the decedent, 45 cared for her husband throughout the ordeal, witnessed and 46 endured his slow deterioration, and has been devastated by his 47 untimely death, and 48 WHEREAS, in August of 2006, the Avallones filed a lawsuit 49 against the Marion County Sheriff’s Offices in the Fifth 50 Judicial Circuit in and for Marion County, Florida, as a result 51 of the negligence of one of the sheriff’s office employees, 52 Darius P. Medina, and 53 WHEREAS, before the trial, the Marion County Sheriff’s 54 Office admitted negligence and further admitted that Ronald 55 Avallone was lawfully operating his vehicle and that he was not 56 negligent in any manner, and 57 WHEREAS, on November 13, 2009, a Marion County jury 58 rendered a verdict in favor of the Avallones in the amount of 59 $2,735,000; however, that amount was reduced due to setoffs and 60 a stipulation by the plaintiffs to a reduction in the jury’s 61 determination for costs of future medical care, and 62 WHEREAS, the sheriff’s office appealed the final judgment 63 to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, and on April 28, 2011, a 64 final judgment was entered in the amount of $2,331,562.84, and 65 WHEREAS, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office purchased 66 liability insurance coverage from the Preferred Governmental 67 Insurance Trust having a policy limit of up to $1 million in 68 coverage, and 69 WHEREAS, the insurer refused to settle the case for an 70 amount within its policy limit, thereby exposing the sheriff’s 71 office to a claim bill in excess of its insurance coverage, and 72 WHEREAS, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has paid 73 $200,000 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, but its 74 insurer has refused to attempt to resolve this claim beyond what 75 the sheriff’s office has paid, and 76 WHEREAS, the insurer has taken the position that it will 77 not pay the claim despite the merits of the case because the 78 policy provides that a claim bill must pass before the insurer 79 is obligated to make any payment and the insurer intends to 80 attempt to defeat the bill, and 81 WHEREAS, the surviving claimant, Marianne Beauregard, and 82 her late husband, Ronald Avallone, are totally innocent of any 83 negligence or wrongdoing in the tragedy that took the life of 84 Ronald Avallone and are deserving of fair compensation, NOW, 85 THEREFORE, 86 87 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 88 89 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 90 found and declared to be true. 91 Section 2. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is authorized 92 and directed to appropriate from funds of the sheriff’s office 93 not otherwise appropriated, including insurance, and to draw a 94 warrant in the sum of $2,331,562.84, payable to Marianne 95 Beauregard and the Estate of Ronald Avallone, as compensation 96 for injuries and damages sustained due to the motor vehicle 97 collision that occurred on November 30, 2005. 98 Section 3. The amount paid by the Marion County Sheriff’s 99 Office pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount 100 awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 101 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 102 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 103 the injuries to Ronald Avallone, his estate, and the claim for 104 loss of consortium and mental pain and suffering of Marianne 105 Beauregard. The total amount paid for attorney’s fees, lobbying 106 fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to this claim 107 may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 108 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.