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.
   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,
   87  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.