Florida Senate - 2021 (NP) SB 42 By Senator Gibson 6-00149-21 202142__ 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 attorney fees; 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 Ms. Juettner drove her Dodge Neon west on State 18 Road 54, Mr. Button realized that he had left his wallet at 19 home, and Ms. Juettner turned her car around and headed back to 20 his home, and 21 WHEREAS, as Ms. Juettner approached Meadow Pointe 22 Boulevard, John E. Kinne, who was driving a 35-foot school bus 23 owned by the Pasco County School Board, pulled out in front of 24 her, and 25 WHEREAS, although Ms. Juettner slammed on the brakes, her 26 car struck the bus between the wheels and slipped underneath the 27 bus, and 28 WHEREAS, while Ms. Juettner suffered only minor injuries, 29 Mr. Button, who was riding in the front passenger seat, 30 sustained facial and skull fractures, brain damage, and vision 31 loss, and 32 WHEREAS, Mr. Kinne and his backup driver, Linda Bone, were 33 the only people on the bus and were not seriously injured, and 34 WHEREAS, Mr. Button was airlifted to St. Joseph’s 35 Children’s Hospital, where he spent 3 weeks recovering, and then 36 was transferred to Tampa General Hospital for rehabilitation for 37 an additional 6 weeks, and 38 WHEREAS, Mr. Button had to relearn how to walk and 39 currently cannot walk for any substantial length of time without 40 pain, lost most of the sight in his right eye, and suffered 41 facial fractures that left one side of his face higher than the 42 other, and 43 WHEREAS, in addition, Mr. Button can no longer smell, has 44 limited ability to taste, cannot feel textures and, as a result 45 of the brain damage he sustained in the crash, sees and hears 46 things that are not there, speaks with a British or a Southern 47 accent, and is paranoid, and 48 WHEREAS, Mr. Button returned home in November 2006, but his 49 mother, Robin Button, testified, “My son who woke up [in the 50 hospital] was not the same son I gave birth to. He was, but he 51 wasn’t. It was him, his skin, but it wasn’t him in his skin. 52 Different kid. The son I knew is gone. He died on that day,” and 53 WHEREAS, as the operator of a school bus, Mr. Kinne had the 54 duty to drive the bus in a safe manner and in accordance with 55 state law, but he failed to do so, and 56 WHEREAS, Mr. Kinne was later cited for failing to yield the 57 right-of-way, and 58 WHEREAS, in 2007, Mr. Button’s parents, Mark and Robin 59 Button, sued the Pasco County School Board for negligence, and, 60 during the subsequent trial, a pediatric rehabilitation doctor 61 and a neuropsychologist testified that Mr. Button will require 62 24-hour care, counseling, interventions, medical care, and 63 pharmaceuticals for the remainder of his life to cope with his 64 physical symptoms and to control his psychotic and delusional 65 behavior; that Mr. Button continues to suffer from memory loss; 66 and that Mr. Button has trouble sleeping and struggles to 67 concentrate and stay on task, and 68 WHEREAS, an economist who testified at trial estimated that 69 Mr. Button’s future care will cost between $6 million and $10 70 million and that his inability to work will result in the loss 71 of between $365,000 and $570,000 in wages over his lifetime, and 72 WHEREAS, a jury of five men and one woman apportioned 73 responsibility for the crash as follows: the Pasco County School 74 Board, 65 percent; Ms. Juettner, 20 percent; and Mr. Button, 15 75 percent, and 76 WHEREAS, the trial court ordered the Pasco County School 77 Board to pay final judgments of $1,380,967.39 and $289,396.85, 78 to Mr. Button and his parents, respectively, and 79 WHEREAS, the Pasco County School Board has paid $163,000 of 80 the $200,000 statutory limit applicable at the time the claim 81 arose pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes 2009, to Mr. 82 Button and to Mark and Robin Button, as parents and natural 83 guardians of Mr. Button, as compensation for the injuries and 84 damages incurred as a result of the accident, and 85 WHEREAS, the pro rata share of the statutory limit pursuant 86 to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes 2009, paid to Mr. Button is 87 $134,752.10, but the balance of $1,246,215.29 remains unpaid, 88 and 89 WHEREAS, the pro rata share of the statutory limit pursuant 90 to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes 2009, paid to Mark and Robin 91 Button is $28,247.90, but the balance of $261,148.95 remains 92 unpaid, NOW, THEREFORE, 93 94 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 95 96 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 97 found and declared to be true. 98 Section 2. The Pasco County School Board is authorized and 99 directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not 100 otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant, payable to Marcus 101 Button, in the amount of $1,246,215.29, to compensate him for 102 injuries and damages sustained due to the negligence of an 103 employee of the school board. 104 Section 3. The Pasco County School Board is authorized and 105 directed to appropriate from funds of the school board not 106 otherwise encumbered and to draw a warrant, payable to Mark and 107 Robin Button, as parents and natural guardians of Mr. Button, in 108 the amount of $261,148.95, to compensate them for injuries and 109 damages sustained by Mr. Button as a result of the accident that 110 occurred on September 22, 2006, due to the negligence of an 111 employee of the Pasco County School Board. 112 Section 4. The amount paid by the Pasco County School Board 113 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes 2009, and the amounts 114 awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 115 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 116 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 117 injuries sustained by Mr. Button. The total amount paid for 118 attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent 119 of the total amount awarded under this act. 120 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.