Florida Senate - 2017 SB 54 By Senator Grimsley 26-00054-17 201754__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Marcus Button by the Pasco 3 County School Board; providing 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 an appropriation to 7 compensate Mark and Robin Button, as parents and 8 natural guardians of Marcus Button, for injuries and 9 damages sustained by Marcus Button; providing a 10 limitation on the payment of fees and costs; providing 11 an effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, on the morning of September 22, 2006, Jessica 14 Juettner picked up 16-year-old Marcus Button at his home in 15 order to drive him to Wesley Chapel High School, where both were 16 students, and 17 WHEREAS, as Jessica drove her Dodge Neon west on State Road 18 54, Marcus Button realized that he had left his wallet at home, 19 and Jessica turned the car around and headed back to his home, 20 and 21 WHEREAS, as Jessica approached Meadow Pointe Boulevard, 22 John E. Kinne, who was driving a 35-foot school bus owned by the 23 Pasco County School Board, pulled out in front of her, and 24 WHEREAS, Jessica slammed on the brakes, but her car struck 25 the bus between the wheels and slipped underneath the bus, and 26 WHEREAS, while Jessica suffered only minor injuries, Marcus 27 Button, who was riding in the front passenger seat, sustained 28 facial and skull fractures, brain damage, and vision loss, and 29 WHEREAS, Mr. Kinne and his backup driver, Linda Bone, were 30 the only people on the bus and were not seriously injured, and 31 WHEREAS, Marcus Button was airlifted to St. Joseph’s 32 Children’s Hospital, where he spent 3 weeks recovering, and then 33 was transferred to Tampa General Hospital for rehabilitation for 34 an additional 6 weeks, and 35 WHEREAS, Marcus Button had to relearn how to walk and 36 currently cannot walk for any substantial length of time without 37 pain, lost most of the sight in his right eye, and suffered 38 facial fractures that left one side of his face higher than the 39 other, and 40 WHEREAS, in addition, Marcus Button can no longer smell, 41 has limited ability to taste, cannot feel textures and, as a 42 result of the brain damage he sustained in the crash, sees and 43 hears things that are not there, speaks with a British or a 44 Southern accent, and is paranoid, and 45 WHEREAS, Marcus Button returned home in November 2006, but 46 his mother, Robin Button, testified, “My son who woke up [in the 47 hospital] was not the same son I gave birth to. He was, but he 48 wasn’t. It was him, his skin, but it wasn’t him in his skin. 49 Different kid. The son I knew is gone. He died on that day,” and 50 WHEREAS, as the operator of a school bus, Mr. Kinne had the 51 duty to drive the bus in a safe manner and in accordance with 52 state law but failed to do so, and 53 WHEREAS, Mr. Kinne was later cited for failing to yield the 54 right-of-way, and 55 WHEREAS, in 2007, Marcus Button’s parents, Mark and Robin 56 Button, sued the Pasco County School Board for negligence, and, 57 during the subsequent trial, a pediatric rehabilitation doctor 58 and a neuropsychologist testified that Marcus will require 24 59 hour care, counseling, interventions, medical care, and 60 pharmaceuticals for the remainder of his life to cope with his 61 physical symptoms and control his psychotic and delusional 62 behavior; that he continues to suffer from memory loss; and that 63 he has trouble sleeping and struggles to concentrate and stay on 64 task, and 65 WHEREAS, an economist who testified at trial estimated that 66 Marcus Button’s future care will cost between $6 million and $10 67 million and that his inability to work will result in the loss 68 of between $365,000 and $570,000 in wages over his lifetime, and 69 WHEREAS, a jury of five men and one woman apportioned 70 responsibility for the crash as follows: the Pasco County School 71 Board, 65 percent; Jessica 20 percent; Marcus Button, 10 72 percent, and 73 WHEREAS, the trial court ordered the Pasco County School 74 Board to pay final judgments of $1,380,967.39 and $289,396.85 to 75 Marcus Button and his parents, respectively, and 76 WHEREAS, the Pasco County School Board has paid $163,000 of 77 the statutory limit of $200,000 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida 78 Statutes, applicable at the time the claim arose, to Marcus 79 Button and Mark and Robin Button, as parents and natural 80 guardians of Marcus Button, as compensation for the injuries and 81 damages that were incurred as a result of the accident that 82 occurred on September 22, 2006, and 83 WHEREAS, the pro rata share of the statutory limit pursuant 84 to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, paid to Marcus Button is 85 $134,752.10, but the balance of $1,246,215.29 remains unpaid, 86 and 87 WHEREAS, the pro rata share of the statutory limit pursuant 88 to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, paid to Mark and Robin Button is 89 $28,247.90, but the balance of $261,148.95 remains unpaid, NOW, 90 THEREFORE, 91 92 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 93 94 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 95 found and declared to be true. 96 Section 2. The Pasco County School Board is authorized and 97 directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not 98 otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant, payable to Marcus 99 Button, in the amount of $1,246,215.29, to compensate him for 100 injuries and damages sustained due to the negligence of an 101 employee of the school board. 102 Section 3. The Pasco County School Board is authorized and 103 directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not 104 otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant, payable to Mark and 105 Robin Button, as parents and natural guardians of Marcus Button, 106 in the amount of $261,148.95, to compensate them for injuries 107 and damages sustained by Marcus Button as a result of the 108 accident that occurred on September 22, 2006 due to the 109 negligence of an employee of the Pasco County School Board. 110 Section 4. The amount paid by the Pasco County School Board 111 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amounts awarded 112 under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for 113 all present and future claims arising out of the factual 114 situation described in this act which resulted in injuries 115 sustained by Marcus Button. The total amount paid for attorney 116 fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating 117 to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the total amounts 118 awarded under this act. 119 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.