Florida Senate - 2013                                      SB 20
       By Senator Diaz de la Portilla
       40-00019-13                                             201320__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Marcus Button by the Pasco
    3         County School Board; providing for an appropriation to
    4         compensate Marcus Button for injuries sustained as a
    5         result of the negligence of an employee of the Pasco
    6         County School Board; providing a limitation on the
    7         payment of fees and costs; providing an effective
    8         date.
   10         WHEREAS, on the morning of September 22, 2006, Jessica
   11  Juettner picked up 16-year-old Marcus Button at his home in
   12  order to drive him to school where both were students at Wesley
   13  Chapel High School. As Jessica drove her Dodge Neon west on
   14  State Road 54, Marcus realized he had left his wallet at home.
   15  Jessica turned the car around and headed back on State Road 54,
   16  but as she approached Meadow Pointe Boulevard, John E. Kinne,
   17  who was driving a 35-foot Pasco County school bus, pulled out in
   18  front of her. Jessica slammed on the brakes, but her car struck
   19  the bus between the wheels and slipped underneath the bus, and
   20         WHEREAS, Marcus, who was riding in the front passenger
   21  seat, sustained facial and skull fractures, brain damage, and
   22  vision loss, and Jessica suffered only minor injuries, and
   23         WHEREAS, Kinne was cited for failing to yield the right-of
   24  way. Kinne and his backup driver, Linda Bone, were the only
   25  people on the bus and were not seriously injured, and
   26         WHEREAS, Marcus was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Children’s
   27  Hospital, where he spent 3 weeks recovering. He was then
   28  transferred to Tampa General Hospital for rehabilitation for an
   29  additional 6 weeks. He had to relearn how to walk, and he
   30  currently cannot walk for any substantial length of time without
   31  pain. Marcus lost most of the sight in his right eye, can no
   32  longer smell, has limited ability to taste, and cannot feel
   33  textures. The brain damage he sustained in the crash has caused
   34  him to see and hear things that are not there, to talk with a
   35  British or a Southern accent, and to become paranoid. Facial
   36  fractures have left one side of his face higher than the other,
   37  and
   38         WHEREAS, Marcus returned home in November 2006, but his
   39  parents testified that their son is not the same person who left
   40  for school that September morning. “My son who woke up [in the
   41  hospital] was not the same son I gave birth to,” Robin Button
   42  testified. “He was, but he wasn’t. It was him, his skin, but it
   43  wasn’t him in his skin. Different kid. The son I knew is gone.
   44  He died on that day,” and
   45         WHEREAS, the Buttons sued the Pasco County School Board for
   46  negligence in 2007, and the case went to trial. A pediatric
   47  rehabilitation doctor and a neuropsychologist testified at trial
   48  that Marcus will require a lifetime of 24-hour-a-day care,
   49  counseling, interventions, medical care, and pharmaceuticals to
   50  cope with his physical symptoms and control his psychotic and
   51  delusional behavior. He continues to suffer from memory loss,
   52  has trouble sleeping, and struggles to concentrate or stay on
   53  task. An economist who testified at trial estimated Marcus’s
   54  future care will cost between $6 million and $10 million. The
   55  economist also testified that Marcus’s inability to work in the
   56  future will cost him between $365,000 and $570,000 in lost
   57  wages, and
   58         WHEREAS, the jury of five men and one woman found the Pasco
   59  County School Board 65 percent responsible for the crash.
   60  Jessica was found to be 20 percent responsible, and Marcus 10
   61  percent. The allocation of responsibility away from the school
   62  board reduced the award to $875,000, and
   63         WHEREAS, the Pasco County School Board has paid the
   64  statutory limit of $200,000 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida
   65  Statutes, and $675,000 remains unpaid, NOW, THEREFORE,
   67  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   69         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   70  found and declared to be true.
   71         Section 2. The Pasco County School Board is authorized and
   72  directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not
   73  otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant, payable to Marcus
   74  Button, for the amount of $675,000 to compensate him for
   75  injuries and damages sustained due to the negligence of the
   76  school board.
   77         Section 3. The amount paid by the Pasco County School Board
   78  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   79  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   80  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
   81  situation described in this act which resulted in injuries
   82  sustained by Marcus Button. The total amount paid for attorney
   83  fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating
   84  to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the total amount
   85  awarded under this act.
   86         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.