December 13, 2018
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       Florida Senate - 2010                              (NP)    SB 56
       
       
       
       By Senator Baker
       
       
       
       
       20-00139-10                                             201056__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Timothy Kulik and Theresa Ann
    3         Kulik; providing an appropriation to compensate them
    4         for injuries and damages sustained as a result of the
    5         negligence of an employee of the Department of Highway
    6         Safety and Motor Vehicles; providing a limitation on
    7         the payment of fees and costs; providing an effective
    8         date.
    9  
   10         WHEREAS, on March 30, 1996, Dr. Timothy Kulik, a dentist
   11  from South Bend, Indiana, and his family, including his wife
   12  Theresa Ann Kulik and their two teenage children, were en route
   13  from Indiana to South Florida on Interstate 75, and
   14         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik’s son, Michael Kulik, was driving
   15  the family vehicle as the Kuliks traveled Interstate 75 in
   16  Columbia County, heading southbound within an extended
   17  construction zone, and
   18         WHEREAS, Michael Kulik had been following a grey van in the
   19  right-hand lane for some time, keeping up with traffic, when
   20  Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James Bond pulled behind the
   21  Kulik vehicle and turned on his blue lights, indicating that the
   22  Kulik vehicle must pull over, and
   23         WHEREAS, Michael Kulik, an inexperienced driver who had
   24  less than 1 year of total driving experience, pulled the vehicle
   25  off the road onto the shoulder still within the construction
   26  zone at a point where there was no emergency lane, and
   27         WHEREAS, the left rear tire of the vehicle came to rest on
   28  asphalt less than 6 inches off the right white line delineating
   29  the shoulder of the road, with the left front tire approximately
   30  18 inches onto the shoulder, and
   31         WHEREAS, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James Bond parked
   32  his vehicle about 15 feet off of the roadway in a large grassy
   33  area that separated the roadway from a rest area, and
   34         WHEREAS, the pictures of the accident scene do not depict
   35  where Trooper Bond was parked at the time of the accident
   36  because he moved his vehicle after the fact, and
   37         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond stated at deposition that he noticed
   38  the proximity of the Kulik vehicle to the lanes of traffic and
   39  recognized the danger, but he did not feel it necessary to
   40  instruct Michael Kulik to move the vehicle further off the
   41  roadway because he felt that the family posed a flight risk, and
   42         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond did have available a bullhorn to hail
   43  motorists from inside his vehicle but testified that his
   44  supervisors had discouraged its use, and
   45         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond further failed to position his marked
   46  cruiser in a manner so as to alert oncoming motorists of the
   47  hazard he created and over which he had control, and
   48         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond approached the Kulik vehicle from the
   49  passenger side and engaged the driver through the passenger
   50  window, and
   51         WHEREAS, at trial, Trooper Bond testified that approaching
   52  the Kulik vehicle from the driver’s side would have placed him
   53  in danger of being struck by passing motorists, and
   54         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik was in the front passenger seat and
   55  was notably agitated, voicing his displeasure to Trooper Bond
   56  during the stop, and
   57         WHEREAS, after the ticket had been issued, Timothy Kulik
   58  offered to replace Michael Kulik as the driver of the vehicle
   59  because the son was noticeably shaken by the incident, and
   60         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik exited his seat and walked around
   61  the rear of the vehicle, moving up the driver’s side of the
   62  Chevrolet Suburban, and
   63         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik passed his son Michael near the rear
   64  wheel and walked to the front door which had been left ajar by
   65  his son, and
   66         WHEREAS, unfortunately, Timothy Kulik has no memory of
   67  events from this point on, and
   68         WHEREAS, expert testimony revealed that Timothy Kulik
   69  opened the driver’s door using his left hand, and
   70         WHEREAS, as he did so, a large motor home passed and
   71  impacted the open door pinning Timothy Kulik’s entire left arm
   72  between the door and motor home, and
   73         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik’s left arm was practically severed
   74  in the impact, and
   75         WHEREAS, as the motor home passed, it dragged Timothy Kulik
   76  and the door forward at high speed, throwing him around the door
   77  and forward onto the pavement in front of the Suburban, and
   78         WHEREAS, the highway patrol policies and procedures clearly
   79  stated that a trooper is not to hesitate to direct a stopped
   80  motorist to an area of safety before instituting enforcement
   81  action, and
   82         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond testified that he saw the proximity
   83  of the stopped Kulik car to the traffic lanes of Interstate 75
   84  but chose to leave the Kuliks in a position of danger, and
   85         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond also testified that, in his more than
   86  20-year career, he often saw motorists change drivers following
   87  a traffic stop, and
   88         WHEREAS, Trooper Bond also acknowledged that the Florida
   89  Highway Patrol policy manual allowed for a trooper to instruct a
   90  motorist to stay in the vehicle, and
   91         WHEREAS, an emergency room physician and his wife, an
   92  emergency room nurse, were the first persons on the scene of the
   93  accident, and
   94         WHEREAS, the couple rendered trauma care and assisted in
   95  stemming Timothy Kulik’s profuse bleeding until local emergency
   96  teams arrived, and
   97         WHEREAS, Dr. Timothy Kulik’s left arm was shattered by the
   98  impact of the accident, and
   99         WHEREAS, Dr. Kulik’s arm, from the shoulder down to the
  100  wrist, was mangled, and no use of his hand or arm was possible
  101  for many months, and
  102         WHEREAS, Timothy Kulik underwent seven or eight significant
  103  surgical procedures, and
  104         WHEREAS, muscle transpositions have helped Dr. Kulik regain
  105  simple grasp functions, but overall there is no dexterity to the
  106  left hand and minimal range of motion to the arm, and
  107         WHEREAS, as a result of the accident of March 30, 1996, Dr.
  108  Timothy Kulik’s arm is virtually useless, and
  109         WHEREAS, Dr. Timothy Kulik was a dentist in South Bend,
  110  Indiana, from 1976 to the present, opening his own practice in
  111  1995, and
  112         WHEREAS, dentistry is a profession requiring the full use
  113  of both hands, which means that Dr. Kulik is extremely limited
  114  in the types of procedures he can perform and is unable to
  115  perform more costly and meticulous procedures such as crown
  116  placement, and
  117         WHEREAS, at trial, it was the intent of Timothy Kulik’s
  118  legal representatives to prove that the motor home operator was
  119  negligent, minimizing the role of Trooper Bond after the first 2
  120  days of testimony, and
  121         WHEREAS, for the remainder of the trial Timothy Kulik’s
  122  attorneys concentrated on the motor home operator’s actions,
  123  suggesting during the closing argument that the jury find the
  124  Florida Highway Patrol minimally negligent, and
  125         WHEREAS, despite this, the jury returned with a verdict
  126  attributing 0 percent negligence to the motor home operator,
  127  approximately 46 percent negligence to Trooper Bond, and 54
  128  percent negligence to Timothy Kulik, and
  129         WHEREAS, the gross verdict in the trial was in the amount
  130  of $3,125,000 for Timothy Kulik and $50,000 for Theresa Ann
  131  Kulik for loss of consortium, and
  132         WHEREAS, after reductions for comparative fault, judgment
  133  was entered against the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
  134  Vehicles in the sum of $1,437,500 for damages incurred by
  135  Timothy Kulik and $23,000 for damages incurred by Theresa Ann
  136  Kulik, NOW, THEREFORE,
  137  
  138  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  139  
  140         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
  141  found and declared to be true.
  142         Section 2. The sum of $1,437,500 is appropriated from the
  143  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Highway Safety and
  144  Motor Vehicles for the relief of Timothy Kulik as compensation
  145  for injuries and damages sustained.
  146         Section 3. The sum of $23,000 is appropriated from the
  147  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Highway Safety and
  148  Motor Vehicles for the relief of Theresa Ann Kulik as
  149  compensation for injuries and damages sustained.
  150         Section 4. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
  151  a warrant in favor of Timothy Kulik in the sum of $1,437,500
  152  upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
  153  Vehicles in the State Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer
  154  is directed to pay the same out of such funds in the State
  155  Treasury.
  156         Section 5. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
  157  a warrant in favor of Theresa Ann Kulik in the sum of $23,000
  158  upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
  159  Vehicles and to pay the same out of funds in the State Treasury.
  160         Section 6. The amounts awarded under this act are intended
  161  to provide the sole compensation for all present and future
  162  claims arising out of the factual situation described in this
  163  act which resulted in injury to Dr. Timothy Kulik. The total
  164  amount paid for attorney’s fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other
  165  similar expenses relating to this claim may not exceed 25
  166  percent of the total amount awarded under this act.
  167         Section 7. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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