Florida Senate - 2013 SB 26 By Senator Altman 16-00016-13 201326__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of the Estate of Dr. Sherrill 3 Lynn Aversa; providing an appropriation to compensate 4 the Estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa for Dr. 5 Aversa’s death as result of the negligence of the 6 Department of Transportation; requiring the Executive 7 Office of the Governor to establish spending authority 8 from unappropriated trust fund balances of the 9 department for compensation to the Estate of Dr. 10 Sherrill Lynn Aversa; providing for attorney fees and 11 costs; providing a limitation on the payment of fees 12 and costs; providing an effective date. 13 14 WHEREAS, on June 21, 1999, an employee of the Department of 15 Transportation was driving a departmental truck northbound on 16 Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County, Florida, and 17 WHEREAS, on that same day, Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, having 18 completed an interview at the University of South Florida 19 Medical School, was traveling southbound on Interstate 75, and 20 WHEREAS, according to departmental policy, employees of the 21 department are required to ensure that all items used by the 22 department and stored on a truck are appropriately secured to 23 the truck, and 24 WHEREAS, one such item used by the department and stored on 25 the truck was a 12-foot extension ladder stored on the top of 26 the truck, and 27 WHEREAS, the department’s employee failed to ensure that 28 the ladder was secured to the truck before leaving the 29 department’s maintenance yard, and 30 WHEREAS, thereafter, while the employee traveled northbound 31 on Interstate 75, the extension ladder flew from the roof of the 32 truck into the northbound traffic following the department’s 33 truck, and 34 WHEREAS, the driver of the vehicle traveling behind the 35 department’s truck swerved to avoid hitting the extension 36 ladder, which was ejected directly at the driver in her lane of 37 traffic, and 38 WHEREAS, as a result of the swerving movements, the driver 39 of the vehicle behind the department’s truck lost control of her 40 vehicle, veered to the left, crossed the Interstate 75 median, 41 and struck Dr. Aversa’s vehicle, killing Dr. Aversa instantly, 42 and 43 WHEREAS, as a result of these events, the Estate of Dr. 44 Aversa brought suit against the Department of Transportation for 45 the negligence causing the death of Dr. Aversa, and 46 WHEREAS, after 3 years of litigation, the department 47 admitted liability for the accident and agreed to settle the 48 case, and 49 WHEREAS, the parties agreed to a consent judgment solely 50 against the department, with no finding of comparative 51 negligence against any other party, in the amount of $797,500, 52 and 53 WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation has paid $100,000 54 to the Estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa under the statutory 55 limits of liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, 56 NOW, THEREFORE, 57 58 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 59 60 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 61 found and declared to be true. 62 Section 2. The Executive Office of the Governor is directed 63 to establish spending authority from unappropriated trust fund 64 balances of the Department of Transportation in the amount of 65 $697,500 to a new category titled “Relief: Estate of Dr. 66 Sherrill Lynn Aversa” as compensation to the Estate of Dr. 67 Sherrill Lynn Aversa for the death of Dr. Aversa, which amount 68 includes attorney fees and costs. 69 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 70 a warrant in favor of the Estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa in 71 the sum of $697,500 upon funds of the Department of 72 Transportation not otherwise encumbered, and the Chief Financial 73 Officer is directed to pay the same out of such funds in the 74 State Treasury. 75 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of 76 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 77 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 78 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 79 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 80 the death of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa. The total amount paid for 81 attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses 82 relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount 83 awarded under this act. 84 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.