Florida Senate - 2018                            (NP)    SB 1010
       By Senator Taddeo
       40-01043-18                                           20181010__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Jorge L. Dominguez, Chelsea
    3         Beatrice Dominguez, Brittney Delores Dominguez, and
    4         Tori Alexis Dominguez by Hillsborough County;
    5         providing for an appropriation to compensate them for
    6         the wrongful death of Darcia Lynn Dominguez, which
    7         occurred as the result of the negligence of
    8         Hillsborough County and one of its employees;
    9         providing a limitation on the payment of compensation
   10         and attorney fees; providing an effective date.
   12         WHEREAS, on February 26, 2010, Darcia Lynn Dominguez, a 39
   13  year-old licensed registered nurse, was driving northbound on
   14  Veterans Highway in Tampa, and
   15         WHEREAS, on the morning in question, Santiago Hasbun, an
   16  employee of Hillsborough County, acting in the regular course
   17  and scope of his employment duties and with the express consent
   18  of Hillsborough County, was operating a Hillsborough County
   19  owned tractor-trailer northbound on Veterans Highway, and
   20         WHEREAS, Mr. Hasbun negligently operated the tractor
   21  trailer when he failed to remove the vehicle from the traveled
   22  portion of the highway despite a warning from the vehicle
   23  management and control system of impeding engine failure, which
   24  warning continued for a period of at least 15 minutes, before
   25  the engine shut down and despite the availability of a 24-foot
   26  to 37-foot grass median onto to which he could have traveled and
   27  parked the tractor-trailer, and
   28         WHEREAS, Mr. Hasbun violated Florida law by failing to
   29  timely exit or remove his vehicle from the traveled portion of
   30  the roadway prior to the engine breakdown and, thereafter, by
   31  failing to warn approaching motorists of the hazard by not
   32  placing statutorily required emergency triangles or cones in the
   33  proper location at the rear of the vehicle, the purpose of such
   34  emergency triangles or cones being to apprise approaching
   35  motorists of the impeding hazard at a sufficient distance to
   36  allow the approaching motorist to timely stop or take evasive
   37  action, and
   38         WHEREAS, Hillsborough County, through its Fleet Management
   39  Department, was negligent in its servicing and maintenance of
   40  the tractor-trailer driven by Mr. Hasbun, which resulted in an
   41  electrical failure, which prevented the operation of the
   42  tractor-trailer’s emergency flashing lights, and
   43         WHEREAS, the combined negligence of Hillsborough County and
   44  one of its employees proximately caused Ms. Dominguez to crash
   45  into the back of the tractor-trailer, which had come to a
   46  complete stop on the traveled portion of the roadway, and
   47         WHEREAS, at the time of her death as a result of the crash,
   48  Ms. Dominguez was the spouse of Jorge L. Dominguez and the
   49  mother of their three daughters, Tori Alexis Dominguez, then 10
   50  years of age; Brittney Delores Dominguez, then 16 years of age;
   51  and Chelsea Beatrice Dominguez, then 18 years of age, and
   52         WHEREAS, in accordance with the Wrongful Death Act, Mr.
   53  Dominguez commenced a legal action against Hillsborough County
   54  in Tampa on behalf of the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez and
   55  her surviving spouse and daughters, and
   56         WHEREAS, after years of litigation, Hillsborough County on
   57  December 13, 2016, acknowledged its negligence and that of its
   58  employee and entered into a consent judgment for $600,000, of
   59  which Hillsborough County has paid its sovereign immunity limit
   60  of $200,000. In a separate, confidential settlement, the
   61  county’s excess insurance carrier, Star Insurance Company, paid
   62  an additional, confidential amount to the plaintiff. By virtue
   63  of the consent judgment and the settlement agreement reached
   64  between the parties, Hillsborough County has agreed that it is
   65  liable to the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez for an additional
   66  $400,000 in damages, to be paid in two equal installments over
   67  the course of 2 years, with the first $200,000 payment to be
   68  made during the October following the effective date of this
   69  act, and the second $200,000 payment to be made during October
   70  of the immediately following year, and
   71         WHEREAS, Hillsborough County has acknowledged that a
   72  reasonable estimate of the damages recoverable for the four
   73  statutory survivors of Ms. Dominguez is between $4 million and
   74  $8 million and forensic estimates of her lifetime earnings,
   75  recoverable as damages for loss of net accumulations to her
   76  estate, amounted to an additional $1.7 million, and
   77         WHEREAS, Hillsborough County consents to and fully supports
   78  the passage of this act, NOW, THEREFORE,
   80  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   82         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   83  found and declared to be true.
   84         Section 2. Hillsborough County is authorized and directed
   85  to appropriate from funds not otherwise encumbered and to draw
   86  two warrants in the sum of $200,000 each, payable to the Estate
   87  of Darcia Lynn Dominguez as set forth in this act.
   88         Section 3. The amount paid by Hillsborough County pursuant
   89  to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under
   90  this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all
   91  present and future claims arising out of the factual situation
   92  described in this act which resulted in the death of Darcia Lynn
   93  Dominguez. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to
   94  this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under
   95  this act.
   96         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.