Florida Senate - 2013 SB 38 By Senator Flores 37-00030A-13 201338__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Amie Draiemann Stephenson, 3 individually and as Personal Representative of the 4 Estate of Christian Darby Stephenson, deceased, and 5 for the relief of Hailey Morgan Stephenson and 6 Christian Darby Stephenson, II, as surviving minor 7 children of the decedent; providing an appropriation 8 to compensate them for the wrongful death of Christian 9 Darby Stephenson, which was due in part to the 10 negligence of the Department of Transportation; 11 providing a limitation on the payment of fees and 12 costs; providing an effective date. 13 14 WHEREAS, on August 12, 2000, 29-year-old Christian Darby 15 Stephenson was driving a gasoline tanker eastbound on the Hart 16 Bridge Expressway in Duval County, and 17 WHEREAS, at the base of the bridge was a large pool of 18 standing water which was caused by a clogged drain, and 19 WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation was responsible 20 for the maintenance of the drains at that location on the Hart 21 Bridge Expressway, and 22 WHEREAS, as Mr. Stephenson drove over the bridge, a Jeep 23 that was traveling toward the tanker hit the puddle and 24 hydroplaned, and 25 WHEREAS, Christian Stephenson took evasive action to avoid 26 hitting the Jeep, as well as two other vehicles that had been 27 involved in previous accidents and were parked in the striped 28 safety zone alongside the expressway, and 29 WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson attempted to make a hard right turn 30 onto the Atlantic Avenue exit so as to avoid those three 31 vehicles, but, as he tried to take the exit, the gasoline tanker 32 jackknifed, struck the guardrail, overturned, and exploded, and 33 WHEREAS, Christian Darby Stephenson was subsequently 34 pronounced dead at the scene, and 35 WHEREAS, Mr. Stephenson’s widow, Amie Draiemann Stephenson, 36 brought suit against the Department of Transportation in the 37 Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, in and for Duval 38 County, Florida, Case No. 01-03428 CA, and, on March 22, 2005, 39 the jury returned a verdict that charged the Department of 40 Transportation with 36 percent of the negligence that was a 41 legal cause of Mr. Stephenson’s death, and 42 WHEREAS, the jury verdict states the jury’s determination 43 that the total amount of damages sustained by Christian Darby 44 Stephenson’s estate is $1.3 million; the total amount sustained 45 by Amie Draiemann Stephenson, the widow of Mr. Stephenson, is 46 $763,000; the total amount sustained by Hailey Morgan 47 Stephenson, a surviving minor child of Mr. Stephenson, is $1 48 million; and the total amount sustained by Christian Darby 49 Stephenson, II, a surviving minor child of Mr. Stephenson, is 50 $526,000, and 51 WHEREAS, 36 percent of the aggregate sum of the damages 52 awarded to Mr. Stephenson’s estate and the named survivors under 53 the final judgment is $1,292,040, plus taxable costs, and 54 WHEREAS, after the Department of Transportation has paid 55 $200,000, as allowed under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, the 56 remainder subject to being awarded under this act is $1,092,040, 57 plus taxable costs, NOW, THEREFORE, 58 59 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 60 61 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 62 found and declared to be true. 63 Section 2. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 64 a warrant in the sum of $1,092,040, plus taxable costs, upon the 65 funds of the Department of Transportation in the State Treasury 66 not otherwise appropriated, payable to Amie Draiemann 67 Stephenson, as Personal Representative of the Estate of 68 Christian Darby Stephenson, to compensate Mrs. Stephenson and 69 the surviving minor children of Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson, Hailey 70 Morgan Stephenson and Christian Darby Stephenson, II, for the 71 wrongful death of Christian Darby Stephenson. 72 Section 3. The amount paid by the Department of 73 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 74 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 75 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 76 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 77 the death of Christian Darby Stephenson. The total amount paid 78 for attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar 79 expenses relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the 80 amount awarded under this act. 81 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.