Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - December 1, 2015
REVISED December 1, 2015 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #13

Tracy Burton v. W. Brad Steube, Sheriff of Manatee County, Case No.: 2014-CA-1783


Contact and/or Presenter Information
Mitchell O. Palmer, County Attorney, ext. 3750.

Action Requested
Motion to approve a settlement in the matter of Tracy Burton and W. Brad Steube, Sheriff of Manatee County, for the lump sum of $87,500.

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Florida Statutes 125.01 and 768.28.

Background Discussion
•    Facts of the Case: On December 6, 2011, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy was traveling northbound on 14th Street West directly behind a vehicle driven by Plaintiff, Tracy Burton.  Ms. Burton stopped for traffic in front of her. The deputy was distracted, when he noticed that traffic had stopped he applied his brakes.  As a result of the distraction, the deputy was unable to come to a complete stop before he rear-ended Plaintiff’s vehicle. The impact caused approximately $2,000 - $2,500 in damages to Plaintiff’s vehicle.  Plaintiff is now seeking damages for her injuries, medical bills, and lost wages. 

•    It is the County's position that Deputy Fuiza caused the accident, and, as a result, Plaintiff sustained an injury to her neck. However, after a thorough investigation, Manatee County does not believe that all of Plaintiff’s damages were a result of this accident. The County's position is supported by documented pre-existing medical conditions.

•    Plaintiff’s Damages and Medical Expenses:  Plaintiff claims, as a result of this accident, she suffered permanent injuries to her cervical spine requiring neck surgery which in turn has caused her to have limited range of motion. Plaintiff’s treating neurosurgeon, Dr. Andrew Fine, M.D., opines the herniated disc at C6-7, which required surgical intervention, was a result of the December 6, 2011, motor vehicle accident. While Dr. Fine does not anticipate the need for future surgical intervention, he suggests that this may change in the future if her symptoms progress. Dr. Fine estimates the cost of single level cervical discectomy is $30,000.00 to $60,000.00 depending on the number of levels involved.  These costs do not include hospitalization fees and aftercare.  Dr. Fine states Plaintiff may need repeat imaging studies in the range of $200.00-$3,000.00. Dr. Fine assigned Ms. Burton a permanent impairment rating of 13% due to continued dysfunction in her hands and her general cervical pain.  Dr. Fine also indicates Ms. Burton’s symptoms could be chronic due to her general kyphotic deformity and whiplash injury.  Plaintiff claims she is unable to drive due to this limited range of motion, panic attacks, and fear for her personal safety when driving.  Plaintiff’s medical bills exceed $150,000.00.

•    Cost of Litigation: The County Attorney’s Office estimates the likely cost of continued/future litigation to be $20,000.00-$25,000.00.  This includes the cost of continued investigation, expert witnesses, and trial expenses.   

•    Settlement:  Plaintiff’s original demand was $200,000.00.  The County Attorney’s Office recently participated in mediation with counsel for the Plaintiff and agreed to settle this matter, subject to all of the following:

•    Manatee County shall pay the Plaintiff $87,500.00 in full settlement of Plaintiff’s cause of action.
•    Payment of said sum is subject to approval by the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners.
•    The Plaintiff shall dismiss with prejudice any pending actions and execute and deliver to Manatee County a general release.
•    Plaintiff will satisfy from the settlement proceeds any and all outstanding liens of any kind.
•    Plaintiff shall pay for all outstanding present and future health care costs.
•    Each side will pay their own costs and attorney’s fees.

County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
This is a County Attorney item.  

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please return an approved copy of this agenda memorandum to Tracy Hanrahan (tracy.hanrahan@mymanatee.org), Legal Assistant to Geoffrey Nichols, Assistant County Attorney.

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
Self insurance liability settlement, fund 5050001500, object code 549102

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
$87,500.00 - one time payment

Attachment:  Mediation Settlement Agreement.pdf
Attachment:  General Release.pdf