Bill Text: FL S0046 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Relief of Justin Williamson by the St. Johns County School District

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-05 - Introduced [S0046 Detail]

Download: Florida-2019-S0046-Introduced.html
       Florida Senate - 2019                              (NP)    SB 46
       By Senator Gibson
       6-00136-19                                              201946__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Justin Williamson by the St.
    3         Johns County School District; providing an
    4         appropriation to compensate him for injuries and
    5         damages sustained as a result of the negligence of the
    6         St. Johns County School District; providing a
    7         limitation on the payment of attorney fees; providing
    8         an effective date.
   10         WHEREAS, on the morning of September 9, 2014, Justin
   11  Williamson, along with his passenger, Amber Middleton, was
   12  driving toward Palatka on State Road 207, and
   13         WHEREAS, a St. Johns County school bus, operated by Linda
   14  Fox in the scope of her employment with the St. Johns County
   15  School District, was traveling on Armstrong Road and crossed
   16  State Road 207 into Mr. Williamson’s lane of travel, and
   17         WHEREAS, the bus struck the driver’s side of Mr.
   18  Williamson’s vehicle, crushing it and trapping a critically
   19  injured Mr. Williamson inside, and
   20         WHEREAS, Mr. Williamson’s injuries from the crash included
   21  damage to his spleen and hematoma, abrasions on multiple sites,
   22  three shattered teeth in the left side of his mouth, a
   23  dislocated left radial head, a fracture of his left humerus, a
   24  left femur fracture, as well as other injuries as reflected in
   25  the medical evidence introduced at trial, and
   26         WHEREAS, Mr. Williamson was airlifted to Halifax Health
   27  Medical Center, where he spent days recovering, and then was
   28  transferred to Brooks Rehabilitation for weeks of
   29  rehabilitation, and
   30         WHEREAS, for 185 days, Mr. Williamson was either bedridden
   31  or relegated to a wheelchair, could not perform basic everyday
   32  tasks without help from his wife and others, and had trouble
   33  sleeping for more than 1 hour at a time, and
   34         WHEREAS, Mr. Williamson still experiences significant pain,
   35  walks with a limp, continues to have trouble sleeping, and has
   36  serious mobility issues, and
   37         WHEREAS, as a result of the crash, Mr. Williamson is no
   38  longer able to pursue hobbies he undertook before the incident,
   39  such as rock climbing, instructing and practicing taekwondo, and
   40  generally enjoying an athletic lifestyle, and
   41         WHEREAS, as the operator of a school bus, Ms. Fox had the
   42  duty to drive the bus in a safe manner and in accordance with
   43  state law, but failed to do so, and
   44         WHEREAS, as a result of the collision, Ms. Fox was cited
   45  for failing to yield the right-of-way, and
   46         WHEREAS, in February 2018, Mr. Williamson sued the St.
   47  Johns County School District, and during the subsequent trial
   48  doctors involved with his case testified that Mr. Williamson
   49  sustained severe injuries as a result of the crash, will
   50  continue to need medical care, and will never regain the level
   51  of physical well-being he experienced before the incident, and
   52         WHEREAS, experts who testified at the trial estimated that
   53  Mr. Williamson’s future care will cost $527,405.16 and that his
   54  inability to work will result in the loss of between $513,000
   55  and $822,800 in wages over his lifetime, and
   56         WHEREAS, Judge Michael Traynor of the Seventh Judicial
   57  Circuit found the St. Johns County School District liable for
   58  the injuries and damages suffered by Mr. Williamson, and
   59         WHEREAS, the trial court ordered the St. Johns County
   60  School District to pay a final judgment of $1,955,161.93 to Mr.
   61  Williamson, and
   62         WHEREAS, the St. Johns County School District has paid none
   63  of the statutory limit of $200,000 pursuant to s. 768.28,
   64  Florida Statutes, applicable at the time the claim arose, to Mr.
   65  Williamson as compensation for the injuries and damages incurred
   66  as a result of the crash, and
   67         WHEREAS, the full amount of the $1,955,161.93 final
   68  judgment remains unpaid, NOW, THEREFORE,
   70  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   72         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   73  found and declared to be true.
   74         Section 2.  The St. Johns County School District is
   75  authorized and directed to appropriate from funds not otherwise
   76  encumbered and to draw a warrant payable to Justin Williamson in
   77  the sum of $1,955,161.93 as compensation for injuries and
   78  damages he sustained.
   79         Section 3. The amount awarded under this act is intended to
   80  provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims
   81  arising out of the factual situation described in this act which
   82  resulted in injuries and damages to Justin Williamson. The total
   83  amount paid for attorney fees relating to this claim may not
   84  exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act.
   85         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.