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. 11 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, 79 80 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 81 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.