Florida Senate - 2023 (NP) SB 10 By Senator Gruters 23-00070-23 202310__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Kristin A. Stewart by 3 Sarasota County; providing an appropriation to 4 compensate her for injuries sustained as a result of 5 the negligence of an employee of Sarasota County; 6 providing legislative intent regarding the waiver of 7 certain liens; providing limitations on compensation 8 and the payment of attorney fees, lobbying fees, and 9 costs or other similar expenses; providing an 10 effective date. 11 12 WHEREAS, on May 13, 2020, Kristin A. Stewart, then 35 years 13 of age, was jogging westbound on a pedestrian crosswalk next to 14 Bahia Vista Street at the intersection with Witmarsum Boulevard, 15 and 16 WHEREAS, at the same time, a Sarasota County Ford F-550 17 utility truck driven by an employee of Sarasota County traveling 18 eastbound on Bahia Vista Street performed a legal U-turn 19 maneuver at the intersection with Witmarsum Boulevard in order 20 to travel westbound, and 21 WHEREAS, the Sarasota County employee drove the utility 22 truck into the pedestrian crosswalk and failed to come to a stop 23 or otherwise yield to Ms. Stewart, who was jogging westbound in 24 the pedestrian crosswalk, and the truck struck Ms. Stewart from 25 behind, and 26 WHEREAS, after running Ms. Stewart over from behind, the 27 Sarasota County utility truck continued to drive, dragging Ms. 28 Stewart on the concrete sidewalk for 65 feet and tearing the 29 skin off her torso, both of her hips, and both of her arms; 30 tearing the hair out of the top of her scalp; crushing her 31 pelvis with a grade 3 open book pelvic fracture; tearing her 32 liver nearly in half with a grade 4 liver laceration; injuring 33 her lungs, kidneys, and colon; and breaking five of Ms. 34 Stewart’s ribs and her vertebral body transverse processes at 35 T11, T12, L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5, and 36 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart did not lose consciousness at any time 37 during or after being run over and dragged by the utility truck 38 and was awake, aware, and conscious of the injuries inflicted on 39 her, and 40 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart was designated as a trauma 1 patient 41 and transported emergently to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where 42 she underwent surgical debridement of the degloving injuries to 43 her skin; surgery to graft cadaver skin onto her degloving 44 injuries; surgery to repair her lacerated liver; orthopedic 45 surgery to insert two large screws to reduce the injuries to her 46 pelvis; and intubation and mechanical ventilation due to a 47 collapsed lung and respiratory insufficiency, and 48 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart’s 15-day hospitalization was followed 49 by months of home health care; wound care; ongoing and 50 continuous physical therapy; occupational therapy; further 51 surgical debridements; surgical removal of allographs; surgical 52 harvesting of skin from her right thigh for grafting to the 53 degloving injuries on her torso, her hips, and her arms; wound 54 revision surgery; and medical and psychological treatment for 55 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, and 56 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart, through no fault of her own, suffered 57 and was treated for multiple traumatic injuries and has 58 suffered, and will continue to suffer, mental pain and anguish 59 and the loss of enjoyment of life, and 60 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart incurred medical care and treatment 61 costs related to her injuries which, as of May 24, 2022, total 62 $917,251.49, and 63 WHEREAS, since the crash, Ms. Stewart has required costly 64 and continuous care and treatment, and she will require such 65 care and treatment for the remainder of her life, and 66 WHEREAS, as a result of her injuries, Ms. Stewart is 67 medically unable to return to her career as an elementary school 68 teacher due to her continued pain, physical limitations, and 69 PTSD and anxiety, which make her medically unemployable, and 70 WHEREAS, with a work-life expectancy of another 29 years, 71 the amount of Ms. Stewart’s past lost earnings and future 72 earning capacity after reduction to present value is $1,927,498, 73 and 74 WHEREAS, as a result of losing her career, Ms. Stewart will 75 lose the health insurance she had as a teacher and will have to 76 pay over her lifetime to replace that health insurance coverage, 77 which, after reduction to present value, totals $156,568, and 78 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart suffered severe and permanent bodily 79 injury, severe and permanent scarring and disfigurement over 80 large parts of her body, mental pain and anguish, disability, 81 pain and suffering, and the loss of ability to enjoy life from 82 the time of the accident going forward into the future, and 83 WHEREAS, Sarasota County admits that its employee was 84 solely at fault for running Ms. Stewart over from behind; that 85 its employee was acting within the course and scope of his 86 employment and driving Sarasota County’s F-550 utility truck 87 when he ran Ms. Stewart over from behind; that Ms. Stewart did 88 nothing wrong to cause or contribute to causing the incident 89 that permanently injured, disfigured, and disabled her; and that 90 the negligence of Sarasota County through the acts of its 91 employee was the sole cause of Ms. Stewart’s injuries and 92 damages, and 93 WHEREAS, Ms. Stewart will require costly continuous care 94 and treatment for the remainder of her life, which treatment 95 will cost $388,538 after reduction to present value, and 96 WHEREAS, in resolving the civil action brought in the 97 Circuit Court for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, in and for 98 Sarasota County, Kristin A. Stewart vs. Sarasota County, Case 99 No. 2020 CA 005362 NC, a final judgment was entered in favor of 100 Kristin A. Stewart against Sarasota County on June 14, 2022, in 101 the amount of $5.95 million, and 102 WHEREAS, the parties signed a settlement agreement under 103 the terms of which a total amount of $5.95 million is to be paid 104 to Ms. Stewart, of which Sarasota County has paid $200,000 105 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and 106 WHEREAS, Sarasota County and its insurer, Colony Insurance 107 Company, have agreed to support this claim bill being rendered 108 against Sarasota County in this matter and will support any such 109 bill in the amount agreed upon in the settlement agreement, NOW, 110 THEREFORE, 111 112 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 113 114 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 115 found and declared to be true. 116 Section 2. In addition to the $200,000 already paid to 117 Kristin A. Stewart, Sarasota County is authorized and directed 118 to appropriate from funds not otherwise encumbered and to draw a 119 warrant in the sum of $5.75 million payable to Kristin A. 120 Stewart as compensation for injuries and damages sustained due 121 to the negligence of an employee of Sarasota County. 122 Section 3. Excluding the federal portions of any liens, 123 Medicaid or otherwise, which the claimant must satisfy pursuant 124 to s. 409.910, Florida Statutes, it is the intent of the 125 Legislature that the lien interests relating to the care and 126 treatment of Kristin A. Stewart are hereby waived and 127 extinguished. 128 Section 4. The amount paid by Sarasota County pursuant to 129 s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under this 130 act are intended to provide the sole compensation for all 131 present and future claims arising out of the factual situation 132 described in this act which resulted in injuries and damages to 133 Kristin A. Stewart. The total amount paid for attorney fees 134 relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the first 2 135 million dollars recovered and 20 percent of moneys recovered in 136 excess of 2 million dollars, the total amount paid for lobbying 137 fees may not exceed 5 percent of the amount recovered, and the 138 total amount paid for costs or other similar expenses may not 139 exceed $88,709.64. 140 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.