One of Tampa’s most prominent leaders died nearly two years ago. Former Hillsborough Aviation Authority chair Steve Burton died following a heart transplant at Tampa General Hospital.
Burton’s death was originally reported as a transplant-related complication. According to reports following his death on April 21, 2013, Burton’s new heart functioned perfectly for four hours, but suddenly failed after that. He was never brought out of sedation.
Earlier this month, Burton’s heirs filed a request with the Hillsborough County Courts for an additional nine months to investigate a possible malpractice suit.
“A preliminary investigation into the cause of death has raised questions concerning the suitability of the donor heart for transplantation,” the complaint reads.
In addition to extending the investigation, Burton’s heirs are also seeking medical records but Tampa General appears to be refusing to provide them. The family is asking the courts to issue an order requiring the hospital to turn them over.
It’s not clear exactly who would be named in the lawsuit. The filings say the heart was procured by Burton’s cardiac surgeons. His estate has several ongoing requests for payment from Tampa General and Infectious Disease Associates of Tampa Bay.
Burton is survived by two children, Tyler and Zachary Burton, and a fiancee. Both of his children are young adults. The personal representative on Burton’s estate is a colleague from the Broad and Cassel law firm, Mark Barber.
Burton’s most notable accomplishments included his work with the Hillsborough Aviation Authority. After being appointed to the agency by former Gov. Charlie Crist, Burton applied heavy pressure to then CEO of Tampa International Airport Louis Miller. His chief complaint was that Miller lacked commitment to attracting more international flights.
Miller later resigned, paving the way for new leadership under Joe Lopano. The two worked together closely to begin implementing a $2.5 billion master plan. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Burton continued working on airport matters even as he lay in a hospital bed just weeks before his death awaiting a new heart.
Burton also served on boards of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the USF board of trustees and Stetson University College of Law.