Bill Text: FL S0036 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relief of Shuler Limited Partnership by the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-05 - Introduced [S0036 Detail]

Download: Florida-2019-S0036-Introduced.html
       Florida Senate - 2019                              (NP)    SB 36
       
       
        
       By Senator Montford
       
       
       
       
       
       3-00123A-19                                             201936__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Shuler Limited Partnership by
    3         the Florida Forest Service of the Department of
    4         Agriculture and Consumer Services, formerly known as
    5         the Division of Forestry, and the Board of Trustees of
    6         the Internal Improvement Trust Fund; providing for an
    7         appropriation to compensate Shuler Limited Partnership
    8         for costs and fees and for damages sustained to 835
    9         acres of its timber as a result of the negligence,
   10         negligence per se, and gross negligence of employees
   11         of the Florida Forest Service and their violation of
   12         ch. 590, F.S.; providing a limitation on the payment
   13         of attorney fees; providing an effective date.
   14  
   15         WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement
   16  Trust Fund, hereinafter referred to as the “board,” is the owner
   17  of an approximately 3,267-acre property located within Tate’s
   18  Hell State Forest in Franklin County and which is hereinafter
   19  referred to as the “prescribed burn area,” and
   20         WHEREAS, under chapter 590, Florida Statutes, the Florida
   21  Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
   22  Services, formerly known as the Division of Forestry and
   23  hereinafter referred to as the “forest service,” is responsible
   24  for managing Tate’s Hell State Forest, including the prescribed
   25  burn area, for the board, and
   26         WHEREAS, Shuler Limited Partnership is the owner of an
   27  approximately 2,182-acre property, hereinafter referred to as
   28  “Shuler’s Pasture,” located west of the prescribed burn area and
   29  separated from the prescribed burn area by Cash Creek, and
   30         WHEREAS, on April 9, 2008, the forest service conducted a
   31  prescribed burn in the prescribed burn area, but before the fire
   32  was completely extinguished, an ember from the smoldering fire
   33  drifted onto Shuler’s Pasture, causing a fire there that
   34  destroyed 835 acres of trees, and
   35         WHEREAS, Shuler Limited Partnership filed suit in the
   36  Second Judicial Circuit in and for Franklin County, and a jury
   37  returned a verdict in favor of Shuler Limited Partnership,
   38  finding that the forest service was negligent, negligent per se,
   39  and grossly negligent in the conduct of the prescribed burn,
   40  that the burn was conducted in violation of chapter 590, Florida
   41  Statutes, and that the board was vicariously liable for the
   42  forest service’s conduct of the prescribed burn, and
   43         WHEREAS, the jury awarded $741,496 in damages and $28,997
   44  in costs and fees to Shuler Limited Partnership, for a total sum
   45  of $770,493, and
   46         WHEREAS, the forest service and the board appealed the jury
   47  verdict, but the First District Court of Appeal upheld the
   48  verdict, and
   49         WHEREAS, the forest service and the board have paid
   50  $100,000 to Shuler Limited Partnership pursuant to the statutory
   51  limits of liability in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, applicable
   52  at the time, and a total of $670,493 remains to be paid, NOW,
   53  THEREFORE,
   54  
   55  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   56  
   57         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   58  found and declared to be true.
   59         Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue
   60  Fund to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and
   61  to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund
   62  the sum of $670,493 for the relief of Shuler Limited Partnership
   63  for the damages caused by, and for the costs and fees incurred
   64  as the result of, the negligence, negligence per se, and gross
   65  negligence of employees of the Florida Forest Service of the
   66  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and their
   67  violation of chapter 590, Florida Statutes.
   68         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   69  a warrant in the sum of $670,493, payable to Shuler Limited
   70  Partnership, as compensation for the damages to Shuler Limited
   71  Partnership caused by, and for the costs and fees incurred as
   72  the result of, the negligence, negligence per se, and gross
   73  negligence of employees of the Florida Forest Service of the
   74  Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and their
   75  violation of chapter 590, Florida Statutes.
   76         Section 4. The amount paid by the Florida Forest Service of
   77  the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the
   78  Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund
   79  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   80  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   81  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
   82  situation described in this act which resulted in damages to
   83  Shuler Limited Partnership. The total amount paid for attorney
   84  fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the
   85  total amount awarded under this act.
   86         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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