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.