FSU Football Player's Claims Bill Among First Bills Filed Of 2016 Legislative Session

Jul 23, 2015

Former Florida State University football player Devaughn Darling
Credit Florida State University

The first bills of the 2016 Florida Legislative Session have been filed in the Senate, and it includes three claims bills.

Under the state’s current claims bill process, the most the state or local government-run entity can compensate victims or their families is $200,000—no matter the initial amount agreed to by both parties.

Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner is the author of a claims bills totaling $1.8 million to further compensate the family of a former Florida State University football player. They already received $200,000 from the school.

“This claims bill is filed on behalf of Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling, Sr., the parents of Devaughn Darling, who collapsed and died while participating in pre-season training at FSU back in 2001,” said Joyner, in a previous interview.

Joyner has filed this bill every year since 2010. It came close to passing in the recent session, but ultimately failed.

“You know, as is customary, it appears in the legislature that with almost every bill, sometimes you get a bill passed the first year, but more times than not, you have to file several years before you can get what you want. You know, lots of bills don’t get through the first time, and especially bills of this nature,” added Joyner.

There’s also a bill filed by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Rockledge)—another repeater claims bill. The state would be required to pay more than $695,000 as part of a settlement reached between the Department of Transportation and the family of Sherrill Lynn Aversa. The 33-year-old doctor died after she was struck by an unsecure ladder on an FDOT truck on I-75.

Another claims bill filed multiple times seeks to compensate Brian Pitts—a well-known outspoken Capitol gadfly. If an administrative law judge agrees Pitts was wrongly jailed years ago for practicing law without a license, he could be eligible to receive up to $7 million under the claims bill filed by Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens).

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