Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State Rep. Darryl Rouson sued over traffic crash

ST. PETERSBURG — State Rep. Darryl Rouson is being sued by a 27-year-old woman who says she suffered "substantial'' injuries in August when Rouson plowed into her car while fiddling with his navigation system.

The suit, filed last week in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, comes as a Florida news service found that Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, has the worst driving history of any state lawmaker.

Since he was first issued a license in 1973, Rouson has racked up 43 tickets and thousands of dollars in fines, according to a Scripps Florida review of the driving histories of all 160 House and Senate members.

Last fall, Rouson paid a $166 fine for careless driving after he rear-ended a car driven by Jakela King of St. Petersburg, who had stopped for a red light on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg.

According to the accident report, Rouson was trying to operate the navigation system in his 2011 Buick at the time. The lawmaker "stated that he was distracted by that and it was his fault,'' Officer John Herrera wrote, noting that Rouson's attitude was "good.''

King's injuries appeared to be "non-incapacitating,'' the report said, but she was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Her suit seeks damages "in excess of $15,000,'' typical language for auto negligence suits, for injuries and losses including use of her 1995 Chevrolet while it was being repaired.

King did not return calls for comment Monday. Rouson said he was unaware of the suit until contacted by the Tampa Bay Times.

"I thought all of that had been settled through the insurance carrier,'' he said.

The suit is the latest in a series of recent setbacks for Rouson. In the past year, he has been hit with a $157,000 federal tax lien, ousted from a House Democratic leadership position and lost a $400,000 a year job with the Tampa law firm of Morgan & Morgan.

Rouson, 58, recently joined the St. Petersburg firm of John Bales Attorneys, specializing in the type of personal injury cases in which he now finds himself a defendant.

"I'm not proud of every mile of my journey,'' Rouson said about a driving record that includes a ticket in October for running a red light in Pinellas. In that case, he failed to pay the $264 fine, and his license was temporarily suspended before being restored in March.

A year ago, Rouson was cited for driving 91 mph in a 70 mph zone in North Florida, according to Scripps Florida. The news service analyzed lawmakers' driving histories in light of the Legislature's move this session to increase the speed limit on some Florida highways from 70 mph to 75 mph.

Rouson voted against the measure, which is headed to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

"Speed limits are there for a reason, and I voted against raising it because I think it's a safety issue,'' he said.

In explaining, though not excusing, his driving record, Rouson noted that as a lawmaker he has put 128,000 miles on his car "and it's not even three years old yet.''

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@tampabay.com

State Rep. Darryl Rouson sued over traffic crash 05/05/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  2. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]
  3. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma

    News

    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  5. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”