Claims bills are the first to grace Tampa Bay lawmakers’ Legislative Session issues, with fewer than two dozen bills filed for the 2021 Session.
Tampa Bay Sens. Janet Cruz and Darryl Rouson filed bills seeking financial relief for residents in late July, making them the first bills filed by the lawmakers in a wave filed in the Senate for the 2021 Session.
But, while the bulk of the Senate claims bills call on the state of Florida for compensation, one-third call on local Tampa Bay government entities to compensate for wrongdoing, including the Hillsborough County Commission, the city of Lakeland and the Pasco County School Board.
The bills include SB 26, the Relief of the Estate of Crystle Marie Galloway by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners. Filed by Sen. Cruz, this bill calls for the commission to pay $$2.45 million to Galloway’s family after the 30-year-old woman died of a stroke in 2018 following inaction from paramedics, who failed to take her vital signs and transport her to a hospital.
The settlement was reached in late 2019, and the county has already dished out $300,000 as per the agreement, with the remaining $2.45 million to be decided with the passage of the claims bill.
In Polk County, the city of Lakeland is also being called on for compensation in SB 40, Relief of Reginald Jackson by the City of Lakeland. The bill, filed by Sen. Rouson, requires the city to pay $312,500 as compensation for injuries and damages sustained by Jackson as a result of the negligence of Mike Cochran, a police officer for the Lakeland Police Department.
Cochran shot Jackson in 2001 after wrongfully pulling him over by entering in incorrect information on his tag. Jackson was unarmed and had an 18-month-old child next to him. The county court originally awarded Jackson $412,500 in settlements, but he has only been given $100,000 of the settlement, which the claim bill seeks to complete.
In Pasco County, the local school board is being asked to pay up in a bill filed by Jacksonville Sen. Audrey Gibson. The bill, SB 42, Relief of Marcus Button by the Pasco County School Board, calls on the board to pay $1,246,215 after a car crash in 2006.
Button, who was 16 at the time of the incident, was severely injured as a passenger in a car struck by a Pasco County school bus, which failed to yield the right-of-way. An economist who testified at the 2007 trial estimated that Button’s future care will cost between $6 million and $10 million.
The Senate bills will be heard in the 2021 Legislative Session, which begins March 2.