Florida Senate - 2019                              (NP)    SB 42
       By Senator Taddeo
       40-00051-19                                             201942__
    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 Expressway 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 tractor-trailer owned by
   19  Hillsborough County northbound on Veterans Expressway, 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 impending engine failure, which
   24  warning continued for a period of at least 15 minutes before the
   25  engine shut down, and despite the availability of a 24-foot to
   26  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 the tractor-trailer or to remove it from the
   30  traveled portion of the roadway prior to the engine breakdown
   31  and, thereafter, by failing to warn approaching motorists of the
   32  hazard posed by the vehicle by not placing statutorily required
   33  emergency triangles or cones in the proper location at the rear
   34  of the vehicle, the purpose of such placement being to apprise
   35  approaching motorists of the hazard at a sufficient distance to
   36  allow them to stop or take evasive action, and
   37         WHEREAS, Hillsborough County, through its Fleet Management
   38  Department, was negligent in its servicing and maintenance of
   39  the tractor-trailer driven by Mr. Hasbun, which resulted in an
   40  electrical failure, which prevented the operation of the
   41  tractor-trailer’s emergency flashing lights, and
   42         WHEREAS, the combined negligence of Hillsborough County and
   43  its employee, Mr. Hasbun, proximately caused Ms. Dominguez to
   44  crash into the back of the tractor-trailer, which had come to a
   45  complete stop on the traveled portion of the roadway, and
   46         WHEREAS, at the time of her death as a result of the crash,
   47  Ms. Dominguez was the spouse of Jorge L. Dominguez and the
   48  mother of their three daughters, Tori Alexis Dominguez, then 10
   49  years of age; Brittney Delores Dominguez, then 16 years of age;
   50  and Chelsea Beatrice Dominguez, then 18 years of age, and
   51         WHEREAS, in accordance with the Wrongful Death Act, Mr.
   52  Dominguez commenced a legal action against Hillsborough County
   53  in Tampa on behalf of the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez and
   54  her surviving spouse and daughters, and
   55         WHEREAS, after years of litigation, Hillsborough County on
   56  December 13, 2016, acknowledged its negligence and that of its
   57  employee and entered into a consent judgment for $600,000, of
   58  which Hillsborough County has paid its sovereign immunity limit
   59  of $200,000, and
   60         WHEREAS, in a separate, confidential settlement, the
   61  county’s excess insurance carrier, Star Insurance Company, paid
   62  an additional, confidential amount to the plaintiff and, by
   63  virtue of the consent judgment and the settlement agreement
   64  reached between the parties, Hillsborough County has agreed that
   65  it is liable to the Estate of Darcia Lynn Dominguez for an
   66  additional $400,000 in damages, to be paid in two equal
   67  installments over the course of 2 years, with the first $200,000
   68  payment to be made during the October following the effective
   69  date of this act, and the second $200,000 payment to be made
   70  during October 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. The first $200,000 shall be paid
   88  during the October following the effective date of this act, and
   89  the second $200,000 shall be paid during October of the
   90  immediately following year.
   91         Section 3. The amount paid by Hillsborough County pursuant
   92  to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under
   93  this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all
   94  present and future claims arising out of the factual situation
   95  described in this act which resulted in the death of Darcia Lynn
   96  Dominguez. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to
   97  this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under
   98  this act.
   99         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.