Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Legislature quickly advances $24.8 million medical claim against USF

TALLAHASSEE — A $24.8 million medical negligence claim against the University of South Florida Tampa is proceeding swiftly through the legislative process

At issue is a claim by Amara and Daniel Estrada from a 2007 case in which they claimed USF's chief geneticist failed to identify a genetic disorder in the Estradas' firstborn. He then did not warn them of the 25 percent risk that the syndrome would recur in a subsequent child.

The Estradas now have two mentally impaired sons who will need lifelong care, a jury determined.

Because the university is a public institution protected from liability by sovereign immunity, the Legislature must pass a claims bill before the family can collect any award exceeding $200,000.

The award bill, the costliest claim to be heard in the Senate so far, passed through the Health Regulation Committee in a 5-2 vote this week.

That quickness of the bill's progression raised some eyebrows.

"You don't get any faster track than that," said J.M. "Mac'' Stipanovich, a USF lobbyist Thursday.

At least four partners in Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley, the West Palm Beach law firm that represented the Estradas, each contributed the maximum $500 donation to the campaign of Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, last year.

Atwater spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof dismissed the notion that campaign contributions were a factor in this case, noting other claims bills have also been heard in committee this month.

"He does not have a pattern of reacting because someone may have supported him," she said.

The Senate bill's sponsor, Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, said he never discussed the measure with Atwater. Jones, who sits on the Health Regulation Committee, said the committee wanted a Tampa Bay lawmaker to file the bill, so he volunteered.

"The point is these two children need to be cared for," he said.

The Senate's legal staff initially determined the state could not afford to pay the award.

Then the bill was amended so that USF's insurer would be responsible.

University officials said the verdict was excessive and warned the bill could set a dangerous precedent for all government institutions protected by sovereign immunity.

"The deductibles and premiums will increase geometrically," Stipanovich said.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Legislature quickly advances $24.8 million medical claim against USF 03/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 10:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tie vote blocks grant money for husband of Dade City mayor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Taking another shot at obtaining a Community Redevelopment Agency grant to improve his downtown building, the husband of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez was denied this week by a deadlocked board.

    Mayor Camille Hernandez recused herself but was asked to stay in the room.
  2. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  3. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us

    Science

    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: School grades, teacher pay, transgender lawsuit and more

    Blogs

    SCHOOL GRADES: Florida's school grades showed improvement as the state's revised accountability system entered its third year in its current form. …

    Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates her school's A grade with students in a summer program at the school.
  5. Whiskey wasn't my thing, but then I visited the Teeling Distillery in Ireland

    Travel

    DUBLIN

    If you drink your way through a four-day trip to Ireland, can you make an honest recommendation on anything?

    The focal point of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin is the copper pots used in the process.