Tallahassee, Fl- Florida Representative Ralph E. Massullo has filed a bill that would compel the Florida Legislature to decide over the disbursement of a $2.2 million settlement.
Representative Massullo’s bill responds to a ruling of the circuit court for the Eighth Judicial Circuit awarding Mark LaGatta over $2.32 million for damages suffered during an incident with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Spring Hill Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R) filed a sister bill (SB 12) in the Florida Senate last month.
Mr. Lagatta and his daughter were traveling by motorcycle when an FDOT tractor with a blade attached to it abruptly collided with them. Lagatta sustained severe injuries to his legs and lower body.
The crash resulted in the amputation of Lagatta's left leg, he was hospitalized for several weeks as a result of the accident, underwent 7 surgeries and a tracheotomy, and was placed in an induced coma.
FDOT has so far only paid $120,000 of the total amount. According to Florida’s sovereign immunity statute, the state can only pay up to $200,000 per person for damages arising out of a lawsuit.
However, Florida statutes also provide that portions of settlements surpassing the established limit “may be paid in part or in whole only by further act of the Legislature.” As such, Massullo’s bill’s passage would amount to the Legislature’s consent for the full compensation of Lagatta.
If the bill is passed, funds would be dispersed to FDOT, which would then be wired to Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who would then finally transfer the full amount to Lagatta.