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. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]
  2. Google parent leads $1B Lyft investment, deepening Uber rift

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — Google's parent company is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber.

    This  file photo shows a smartphone displaying the Lyft app.Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber. [Associated Press, 2016]
  3. Check out what this former Buc has cooking in Buffalo

    Bucs

    Leonard Johnson is thrilled to extend his NFL career in Buffalo this season, but whenever his playing days are over, the former Bucs cornerback is ready for life after football.

    He's actually pretty excited.

    Buffalo Bills cornerback Leonard Johnson catches a pass during an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Saturday, July 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
  4. Editorial: Arrests show construction licensing board's faults

    Editorials

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies launched a predawn operation and arrested unlicensed contractors. It was a needed crackdown on a problem that appears rampant in Pinellas because the agency charged with overseeing local contractors has no policing …

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies executed a predawn operation, arresting unlicensed contractors.
  5. Dade City teen arrested after authorities say he pulled fake gun on student

    Crime

    DADE CITY — A 14-year-old boy faces felony charges after he pulled a fake gun on a Pasco Middle School student near the school Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.