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Senate Bill 0012

Senate Bill sb0012

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
    Florida Senate - 2004        (NP)                        SB 12

    By Senator Clary





    4-6-04

  1                      A bill to be entitled

  2         An act relating to the South Florida Water

  3         Management District; providing for the relief

  4         of Brian Daiagi; authorizing and directing the

  5         South Florida Water Management District to

  6         compensate Mr. Daiagi for personal injuries

  7         that he suffered due to the negligence of the

  8         South Florida Water Management District;

  9         providing an effective date.

10  

11         WHEREAS, on the morning of August 10, 1992, Brian

12  Daiagi, a 20-year-old single resident of Broward County was

13  traveling on a dirt bike, westbound on the shoulder of Griffin

14  Road with Richard Truntz, an off-duty police officer with the

15  Hollywood Police Department, who was also on a dirt bike, and

16         WHEREAS, across the shoulder of the road, hidden in

17  tall grass and unbeknownst to both of them, was a drainage

18  culvert that ran perpendicular to and across the shoulder of

19  the road on which they were traveling, and

20         WHEREAS, this drainage culvert that was placed on land

21  owned by the South Florida Water Management District had been

22  there for many years and, at one point, Bell South was to have

23  erected a security fence around the drainage culvert, having

24  obtained permission to lay telephone cables on the road

25  shoulder, but Bell South ultimately failed to erect the

26  security fence, and

27         WHEREAS, despite having notice that the security fence

28  had not been erected, the South Florida Water Management

29  District did not act to protect or warn of the hidden drainage

30  culvert, and

31  

                                  1

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    Florida Senate - 2004        (NP)                        SB 12
    4-6-04




 1         WHEREAS, on August 10, 1992, at approximately 3:00

 2  p.m., when the two riders were returning to Brian Daiagi's

 3  home, Richard Truntz was unable to get his dirt bike out of

 4  first gear and could ride only very slowly and suggested that

 5  Brian ride ahead and meet later at Mr. Daiagi's house, and

 6         WHEREAS, while wearing a helmet and full protective

 7  gear and traveling at approximately 25 m.p.h., Brian Daiagi

 8  drove his dirt bike into the hidden drainage culvert, and

 9         WHEREAS, Mr. Daiagi had never ridden his dirt bike in

10  the area where the accident occurred, and had moved to this

11  western area of Broward County approximately 3 weeks prior to

12  the accident, and

13         WHEREAS, the drainage culvert cannot be seen with the

14  naked eye and was completely obscured by long grass along the

15  road, and

16         WHEREAS, the South Florida Water Management District is

17  responsible for cutting the grass in this area, and

18         WHEREAS, testimony at the trial of the case indicated

19  that the grass was at least "knee high" and obscured the

20  culvert from ordinary view, and Richard Truntz testified that

21  he would have also driven into the culvert except for the fact

22  that he was traveling in first gear and was able to stop 2

23  feet short of the culvert by breaking hard, and

24         WHEREAS, the South Florida Water Management District

25  acknowledged during the trial that it had knowledge that

26  "passers-by" used the road shoulder and took the position that

27  Brian Daiagi was "an invitee" on the premises, and

28         WHEREAS, Brian Daiagi sustained a crush fracture to his

29  spine, was rendered a paraplegic as a result of the incident,

30  was paralyzed from the waist down, and, according to Dr. Barth

31  Green who treated Mr. Daiagi for his injuries, will always be

                                  2

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    Florida Senate - 2004        (NP)                        SB 12
    4-6-04




 1  confined to a wheelchair within a reasonable degree of medical

 2  probability, and

 3         WHEREAS, the specific injuries include a T10-T11

 4  fracture with complete paraplegia below the belly button;

 5  comminuted fracture of the vertebrae at T11; multiple

 6  fractures of the spine at L1, L2, L3, and L4; posttraumatic

 7  stress disorder; depression; pain secondary to the spinal cord

 8  injury; bowel dysfunction; nonfunctioning bladder that

 9  requires 24-hour catheterization; and complete sexual

10  impotence, and

11         WHEREAS, there was no testimony that Brian Daiagi was

12  speeding at the time of the accident and the South Florida

13  Water Management District claimed that Mr. Daiagi was not

14  looking where he was going, and

15         WHEREAS, the trial court allowed the jury to visit the

16  scene of the accident and the jury agreed by their verdict

17  that the drainage culvert was completely obscured and could

18  not be seen and, at the time the jury visited the site, the

19  grass was above knee level, and

20         WHEREAS, an engineer and accident reconstructionist who

21  was called by Mr. Daiagi as an expert witness testified that

22  Mr. Daiagi's speed, based upon where he was found on the other

23  side of the culvert, was approximately 25.6 m.p.h., requiring

24  90 feet in which to stop, at which distance Mr. Daiagi could

25  not have seen the culvert, and

26         WHEREAS, at the time of the accident, Mr. Daiagi was

27  working in a jewelry store and is now 30 years of age and

28  lives in western Broward County, and

29         WHEREAS, a verdict was rendered in the case on

30  September 29, 2000, finding that the South Florida Water

31  Management District was 80 percent negligent in causing the

                                  3

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    Florida Senate - 2004        (NP)                        SB 12
    4-6-04




 1  injuries sustained by Brian Daiagi, and awarding damages

 2  totaling $4,344,000, which took into account a finding of 20

 3  percent comparative negligence by Mr. Daiagi, and

 4         WHEREAS, the verdict was later reduced by the trial

 5  court due to collateral source payments pursuant to health

 6  insurance, resulting in an amended final judgment entered by

 7  the trial court on May 10, 2001, in the amount of

 8  $4,008,616.63, and

 9         WHEREAS, the South Florida Water Management District

10  appealed the verdict to the Fourth District Court of Appeals

11  and the verdict was upheld in a unanimous opinion by the

12  appellate court on July 17, 2002, Case Number 4D01-1918, NOW,

13  THEREFORE,

14  

15  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

16  

17         Section 1.  The facts stated in the preamble to this

18  act are found and declared to be true.

19         Section 2.  The South Florida Water Management District

20  is authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the

21  county not otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in the

22  amount of $4,008,616.63, payable to Brian Daiagi to compensate

23  him for personal injuries and damages suffered in the accident

24  that occurred on June 18, 1998.

25         Section 3.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a

26  law.

27  

28            *****************************************

29                          SENATE SUMMARY

30    Provides for the relief of Brian Daiagi for injuries
      caused by negligence of the South Florida Water
31    Management District.

                                  4

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