Florida Senate - 2021 (NP) SB 32 By Senator Torres 15-00113-21 202132__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Christeia Jones, as guardian 3 of Logan Grant, Denard Maybin, Jr., and Lanard Maybin; 4 providing an appropriation to compensate them for 5 injuries and damages sustained as a result of an 6 automobile accident caused by Trooper Raul Umana, an 7 employee of the Florida Highway Patrol, a division of 8 the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; 9 providing a limitation on the payment of attorney 10 fees; providing an effective date. 11 12 WHEREAS, shortly before 9:25 p.m. on May 18, 2014, Florida 13 Highway Patrol Trooper Raul Umana attempted to cross through a 14 gap in the median onto the southbound lanes of I-75, south of 15 Ocala, and 16 WHEREAS, Trooper Umana misjudged the turn and his vehicle 17 struck the concrete barrier before crossing into the southbound 18 lane and striking a car driven by Christeia Jones, and 19 WHEREAS, Ms. Jones was transporting her minor sons, 2-year 20 old Logan Grant, who was secured in a forward-facing infant 21 seat, 7-year-old Denard Maybin, Jr., and 5-year-old Lanard 22 Maybin, in the backseat of the car, and 23 WHEREAS, after being struck by Trooper Umana’s vehicle, Ms. 24 Jones’s car was struck in the rear by a tractor trailer and the 25 impact crushed the trunk and rear seating area of the car, and 26 WHEREAS, the car was propelled off the road, where it 27 struck a tree and caught fire, and 28 WHEREAS, all three children were transported by helicopter 29 to the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in 30 Gainesville, and 31 WHEREAS, at the hospital, Logan Grant was diagnosed with a 32 severe traumatic brain injury, extensive facial fractures, 33 pulmonary edema, and respiratory failure, and 34 WHEREAS, Logan Grant remained in the hospital for a month 35 before he was discharged to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in 36 Jacksonville for 2 weeks of brain injury rehabilitation, and 37 WHEREAS, Logan Grant continues to receive speech therapy 38 weekly and struggles with expressive and receptive language, and 39 WHEREAS, Logan Grant also exhibits left-side body weakness 40 and behavioral difficulties, and 41 WHEREAS, Logan Grant’s past medical bills exceed $310,000, 42 and Medicaid has asserted a lien of $135,161.64, and 43 WHEREAS, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation 44 specialist Dr. Paul Kornberg has examined Logan Grant and has 45 observed ongoing left hemiparesis with motor, perceptual, 46 communicative, cognitive, and behavioral impairments of a 47 permanent nature which will prevent him from achieving gainful 48 employment, and 49 WHEREAS, Dr. Kornberg reported that Logan Grant is at a 50 high risk for developing seizures in the future, requires 51 ongoing bracing of his left ankle to improve gait, is 52 anticipated to require a scooter for long-distance mobility by 53 the age of 30, is likely to require invasive treatment or 54 orthopedic surgery in the form of left heel cord lengthening in 55 the future, and is expected to be unable to live alone as an 56 adult, necessitating guardianship and attendant care, and 57 WHEREAS, Dr. Michael Shahnasarian has estimated Logan 58 Grant’s future medical and palliative care needs to be 59 $6,702,555, and his loss of earning capacity over his lifetime 60 to be between $1,543,014 and $2,810,754, and 61 WHEREAS, Lanard Maybin arrived at Shands Hospital with a 62 Glasgow Coma Scale of 7, a head injury, a facial laceration, and 63 a shoulder injury that required surgery, and 64 WHEREAS, a plastic surgeon repaired Lanard Maybin’s facial 65 laceration during his stay in the pediatric intensive care unit 66 before he was discharged from the hospital on May 22, 2014, and 67 WHEREAS, since the accident, Lanard Maybin has experienced 68 night terrors and changes in behavior and temperament, and has 69 gained significant weight, and 70 WHEREAS, in early 2019, Dr. Patrick Gorman evaluated Lanard 71 Maybin and diagnosed him as having posttraumatic stress disorder 72 and significant neurocognitive difficulties secondary to 73 traumatic brain injury, and 74 WHEREAS, Lanard Maybin’s past medical bills amount to 75 $35,584.16, and Medicaid has asserted a lien in the amount of 76 $22,525.66, and 77 WHEREAS, at Shands Hospital, Denard Maybin, Jr., was 78 intubated, was put on mechanical ventilation for a day, and was 79 diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury and a 80 subcutaneous soft tissue scalp laceration that required surgery, 81 and 82 WHEREAS, Denard Maybin, Jr., remained hospitalized for 2 83 weeks before he was transferred to Brooks Rehabilitation Center 84 for acute inpatient rehabilitation, and 85 WHEREAS, the rehabilitation center noted that Denard 86 Maybin, Jr., had significant cognitive deficits as well as 87 impulsivity and behavioral changes, and 88 WHEREAS, Denard Maybin, Jr., continues to receive 89 occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, and 90 WHEREAS, the past medical bills of Denard Maybin, Jr., 91 exceed $175,000, and Medicaid has asserted a lien of $96,833.99, 92 and 93 WHEREAS, Dr. Kornberg has diagnosed Denard Maybin, Jr., 94 with permanent impairment that will prevent him from achieving 95 gainful employment, and 96 WHEREAS, Dr. Kornberg reported that Denard Maybin, Jr., is 97 at a high risk for developing seizures in the future and that he 98 is expected to be unable to live alone as an adult, 99 necessitating guardianship and attendant care, and 100 WHEREAS, Dr. Shahnasarian has estimated that future medical 101 and palliative care needs of Denard Maybin, Jr., to be 102 $5,773,129, and his loss of earning capacity over his lifetime 103 to be between $1,568,817 and $2,858,577, and 104 WHEREAS, Trooper Umana was an employee of the Florida 105 Highway Patrol, a division of the Department of Highway Safety 106 and Motor Vehicles, and 107 WHEREAS, Trooper Umana had a duty to use reasonable care to 108 avoid accidents and injury to himself and others while driving 109 his patrol vehicle, and 110 WHEREAS, Ms. Jones, as parent and natural guardian of Logan 111 Grant, Denard Maybin, Jr., and Lanard Maybin, through a lawsuit 112 filed in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and 113 for Orange County under case number 2017-CA-00732-O, alleged 114 that the negligence of the Florida Highway Patrol, through its 115 trooper, was the proximate cause of serious injuries to her 116 minor sons, and 117 WHEREAS, Ms. Jones, through a separate lawsuit filed in the 118 Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and for Orange 119 County under case number 2018-CA-004258-O, alleged that the 120 negligence of the Florida Highway Patrol, through its trooper, 121 was the proximate cause of her own injuries, and 122 WHEREAS, on November 30, 2018, in case number 2017-CA 123 00732-O, Ms. Jones and the Florida Highway Patrol entered into a 124 settlement agreement regarding the claims of Ms. Jones and her 125 minor sons which arose out of the accident described in this 126 act, including the claims under case number 2018-CA-004258-O, 127 which are to be dismissed with prejudice, and 128 WHEREAS, Ms. Jones and the Florida Highway Patrol 129 acknowledged that if the case had gone to trial, a jury could 130 reasonably have awarded damages to Ms. Jones in the amount of 131 $18 million, and both parties agreed to a settlement in that 132 amount, and 133 WHEREAS, the settlement agreement requires the Division of 134 Risk Management of the Department of Financial Services to pay 135 $285,000 to Ms. Jones pursuant to the statutory limits of 136 liability in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and 137 WHEREAS, Ms. Jones seeks satisfaction of the remaining 138 balance of the settlement agreement, which is $17.715 million, 139 NOW, THEREFORE, 140 141 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 142 143 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 144 found and declared to be true. 145 Section 2. The sum of $17.715 million is appropriated from 146 the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Highway Safety and 147 Motor Vehicles for the relief of Christeia Jones as compensation 148 for injuries and damages sustained by her and her minor sons, 149 Logan Grant, Denard Maybin, Jr., and Lanard Maybin. 150 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 151 a warrant in favor of Christeia Jones in the sum of $17.715 152 million, minus payments required to satisfy outstanding Medicaid 153 liens relating to the medical expenses and care of her and her 154 minor sons, Logan Grant, Denard Maybin, Jr., and Lanard Maybin, 155 upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor 156 Vehicles in the State Treasury and to pay the same out of such 157 funds in the State Treasury. 158 Section 4. The amount paid by the Division of Risk 159 Management of the Department of Financial Services pursuant to 160 s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under this 161 act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all 162 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 163 described in this act which resulted in injuries and damages 164 sustained by Christeia Jones and her minor sons, Logan Grant, 165 Denard Maybin, Jr., and Lanard Maybin. The total amount paid for 166 attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent 167 of the total amount awarded under this act. 168 Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.