A Senate committee Thursday approved a bill that would lead to the city of Jacksonville paying $3.3 million to compensate the family of a teenager who was left paralyzed after being crushed by a large tree limb.
The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee voted 10-1 to approve the bill (SB 22), which is now ready to go to the full Senate.
The bill stems from a 2011 incident in which a tree limb fell and crushed 15-year-old Aubrey Stewart.
Bill sponsor Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said the city of Jacksonville had received multiple complaints about the conditions of trees but did not take action before Stewart was injured.
The city agreed to a $3.5 million settlement with Stewart’s family, but the state’s sovereign-immunity laws placed a $200,000 limit on what could be paid.
That led to Bradley filing what is known as a “claim” bill that would direct the city to pay the remaining $3.3 million.
“These are people of very modest means,’’ Bradley said of the family. “This will not make them rich.” Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, cast the only dissenting vote.
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