Florida Senate - 2024 (NP) SB 12 By Senator Ingoglia 11-00065A-24 202412__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Mark LaGatta; providing an 3 appropriation to compensate Mr. LaGatta for injuries 4 and damages sustained as a result of the negligence of 5 the Department of Transportation; providing a 6 limitation on compensation and the payment of attorney 7 fees; providing an effective date. 8 9 WHEREAS, on July 27, 2020, Mark LaGatta and his daughter, 10 Faith LaGatta, were lawfully traveling on Mr. LaGatta’s 11 motorcycle eastbound on State Road 24 near the intersection with 12 SW 95th Avenue in Cedar Key, Levy County, and 13 WHEREAS, Mr. LaGatta, who was 57 years old at the time, was 14 operating the motorcycle, and Faith LaGatta was a passenger on 15 the motorcycle, and 16 WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation was doing 17 roadwork on State Road 24 to repair damage caused to the road by 18 a sinkhole, and 19 WHEREAS, the department created a work zone, marking the 20 closed westbound lane with cones and leaving only the eastbound 21 lane open for travel, and 22 WHEREAS, the department’s work zone had flaggers present to 23 direct the flow of traffic, and a flagger directed Mr. LaGatta 24 to proceed eastbound through the work zone, and 25 WHEREAS, an employee of the department was operating a 26 tractor with a box blade attachment in the westbound travel 27 lane, and 28 WHEREAS, the employee backed up into the eastbound travel 29 lane, directly in front of Mr. LaGatta, causing a collision 30 between the tractor’s box blade and Mr. LaGatta’s motorcycle, 31 and 32 WHEREAS, as a result of the accident, Mr. LaGatta sustained 33 severe injuries to his legs which resulted in the amputation of 34 his left leg, and 35 WHEREAS, Mr. LaGatta was hospitalized for several weeks as 36 a result of the accident, underwent 7 surgeries and a 37 tracheotomy, and was placed in an induced coma, and 38 WHEREAS, Mr. LaGatta was hospitalized when COVID-19 39 protocols were enforced, and none of his five children were 40 allowed to visit him in the hospital, and 41 WHEREAS, Mr. LaGatta remains medically unable to return to 42 his career as a maintenance engineer, and 43 WHEREAS, Mr. LaGatta suffered bodily injury resulting in 44 pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; mental anguish; 45 lost capacity for the enjoyment of life; the expense of 46 hospitalization and medical and nursing care and treatment; lost 47 earnings; and lost earning capacity from the time of the 48 accident forward, and 49 WHEREAS, on February 28, 2023, in resolving the civil 50 action brought in circuit court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, 51 in and for Levy County, Case No. 38 2021 CA 54, a final judgment 52 was entered in favor of Mr. LaGatta against the Department of 53 Transportation, in the amount of $2.32 million, and 54 WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation has paid $120,000 55 to Mr. LaGatta under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and 56 WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation has agreed to 57 support this claim bill, NOW, THEREFORE, 58 59 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 60 61 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 62 found and declared to be true. 63 Section 2. The sum of $2.2 million is appropriated from the 64 General Revenue Fund to the Department of Transportation for the 65 relief of Mark LaGatta for injuries and damages sustained. 66 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 67 a warrant in favor of Mark LaGatta in the amount of $2.2 million 68 upon funds of the Department of Transportation in the State 69 Treasury and to pay the same out of such funds in the State 70 Treasury. 71 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of 72 Transportation pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 73 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 74 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 75 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 76 injuries and damages to Mark LaGatta. The total amount paid for 77 attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent 78 of the total amount awarded under this act. 79 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.