Florida Senate - 2013                                      SB 18
       By Senator Montford
       3-00022-13                                              201318__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Yvonne Morton; providing an
    3         appropriation to compensate her for injuries and
    4         damages sustained as a result of the negligence of an
    5         employee of the Department of Health; providing a
    6         limitation on the payment of fees and costs; providing
    7         an effective date.
    9         WHEREAS, on January 2, 2007, Yvonne Morton was driving her
   10  automobile on Pinellas Avenue South in Tarpon Springs, Pinellas
   11  County, when she was struck by William Herbert, a pharmacy
   12  inspector for the Division of Medical Quality Assurance in the
   13  Department of Health. Mr. Herbert was driving an automobile
   14  owned by the Department of Health in the course and scope of his
   15  employment, and
   16         WHEREAS, Mr. Herbert failed to yield at a stop sign and
   17  pulled out in front of Ms. Morton’s vehicle, causing a
   18  substantial collision. Mr. Herbert was issued a traffic citation
   19  for failure to yield at a stop sign and violating Ms. Morton’s
   20  right of way, and
   21         WHEREAS, Ms. Morton was transported by air to the Bayfront
   22  Medical Center in St. Petersburg and remained a patient at
   23  Bayfront until January 31, 2007. Ms. Morton, who was 85 years
   24  old at the time of the collision, was determined to have
   25  sustained multiple injuries, including multiple fractured ribs,
   26  a scalp hematoma, and neck injuries later diagnosed as central
   27  cord syndrome. During her hospital stay, her neurosurgeon, David
   28  M. McKalip, M.D., performed surgery on her neck. During the
   29  surgical procedure, described as a C5-C6 lateral mass
   30  instrumentation and fusion, metal hardware, including screws,
   31  rods, and a crosslink, were implanted, and
   32         WHEREAS, upon discharge, Ms. Morton was transported by
   33  ambulance to Manor Care of Palm Harbor, a nursing facility in
   34  Palm Harbor. Ms. Morton resided at Manor Care until February 6,
   35  2007, when she was transported by ambulance to Mease Countryside
   36  Hospital for dyspnea with the suspected cause being a pulmonary
   37  embolus due to lengthy bed rest. She remained at Mease until
   38  February 17, 2007, when she was discharged to a new nursing
   39  facility, Orchard Ridge Rehabilitation in New Port Richey, for
   40  continued rehabilitation of her injuries, and
   41         WHEREAS, Ms. Morton resided at Orchard Ridge until August
   42  9, 2007, when she was transported to La Casa Grande, an assisted
   43  living facility also located in New Port Richey, where she
   44  continues to reside. Her average monthly living expenses at the
   45  facility are currently $3,531.60, and
   46         WHEREAS, before the accident, Ms. Morton was independent
   47  and self-sufficient, living on her own in her own home, driving
   48  her own car, and exercising regularly. Since the accident, she
   49  has been confined to hospitals, nursing homes, and, now, an
   50  assisted living facility. The injuries she sustained have caused
   51  her to depend on others for the performance of most of the
   52  activities of daily living, and have caused such difficulty and
   53  inability to ambulate that she now is confined to a wheelchair,
   54  and
   55         WHEREAS, Ms. Morton’s total medical expenses incurred as a
   56  result of the accident, including hospitalizations, physician
   57  services, surgical services, diagnostic imaging studies, air and
   58  ambulance transportation, nursing home residency fees, and
   59  assisted living facility fees, through July 31, 2009, amount to
   60  approximately $570,000, and
   61         WHEREAS, Ms. Morton’s personal automobile insurer, State
   62  Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, has paid $10,000
   63  toward her medical bills in personal injury protection benefits
   64  and $100,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits.
   65  Humana, the American Association of Retired Persons, and
   66  Medicare have also paid portions of her bills and these
   67  organizations retain subrogation interests on any recovery made
   68  by Ms. Morton, and
   69         WHEREAS, a lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Lucas,
   70  Green, and Magazine on behalf of Ms. Morton in the Circuit Court
   71  of Pinellas County, Case No. 07-9114-C-13, against the State of
   72  Florida, Department of Health. In that lawsuit, the department
   73  admitted liability and took the position that its employee,
   74  William Hebert, was solely at fault for the accident. The
   75  parties entered into a settlement under which the department
   76  will pay its statutory limit of liability of $100,000 pursuant
   77  to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and agreed not to contest or
   78  oppose any claim bill on behalf of Ms. Morton if the claim bill
   79  did not seek compensation in excess of an additional $650,000,
   82  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   84         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   85  found and declared to be true.
   86         Section 2. The sum of $650,000 is appropriated from the
   87  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Health for the relief
   88  of Yvonne Morton for injuries and damages sustained as a result
   89  of the negligence of an employee of the Department of Health.
   90         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   91  a warrant in favor of Yvonne Morton in the sum of $650,000 upon
   92  funds of the Department of Health in the State Treasury, and to
   93  pay that amount out of such funds.
   94         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Health
   95  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   96  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   97  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
   98  situation described in this act which resulted in the injuries
   99  and damages to Yvonne Morton. The total amount paid for attorney
  100  fees, lobbying fees, and related costs may not exceed 15 percent
  101  of the amount awarded under this act, absent a waiver of this
  102  fee limitation executed by the claimant, and in such event, the
  103  fee may not exceed 25 percent of the total amount awarded under
  104  this act.
  105         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.