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. 9 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, 66 67 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 68 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.