Government negligence from the ’90s leads to claim bills

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A baby’s death and a flying extension ladder, both happening in the late 1990s, resulted in two of the many claim bills already filed for the 2018 Legislative Session.

The first, filed by Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, is for $2.4 million for the death of 5-month-old Nicholas Patnode, who was seen at the Martin County Health Department’s Indiantown Clinic in 1998.

He developed a bacterial infection in his blood, which wasn’t treated in time, causing him to later die of bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain, according to the bill. The money would go to the boy’s parents, Cristina Alvarez and George Patnode.

The second, filed by Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, is for $650,000 for the estate of Dr. Sherrill Lynn Aversa, who was killed in 1999 when a 12-foot extension ladder flew off a Department of Transportation vehicle on Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County.

Aversa, who was coming from an interview at the University of South Florida Medical School, was struck and killed instantly by another car that swerved to avoid the ladder, the bill says.

Florida law limits local governments and other public bodies to paying no more than $200,000 per person in damages. To get more, lawmakers must pass a claim bill, also known as a relief act, for extra money.

Session begins Jan. 9. The first committee week is this Sept. 12-15.