Claims bill filed for $6.87M settlement in off-duty officer’s death

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State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla filed a claim bill on Monday to require Pasco County to pay more than $6.87 million to the family of an off-duty Tampa police officer killed in a collision with a county vehicle.

The Miami Republican filed SB 36, stemming from the May 2008 death of Victor Guerrero, a 20-year veteran Tampa police officer.

While riding a motorcycle on U.S. 41, Guerrero was struck by a truck driven by a Pasco County employee that turned into his path.

A lawsuit followed Guerrero’s death, leading to a jury verdict awarding his family $7,060,614 plus interest.

The bill calls on Pasco County to pay $6,873,838; the county had already given $186,776. Florida’s sovereign-immunity laws often limit the amounts of money government agencies, like counties, are required to pay in lawsuits.

Tallahassee lawmakers can pass claim bills for payments of larger amounts. Senators began filing claim bills for next year’s legislative session.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.