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

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).

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.