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Florida liability cap reached in settlement for inmate's death

Compensation, provided through settlements or jury awards, alleviates the financial strain suffered by victims and surviving family members. Defendant negligence gives plaintiffs the right to claim every dollar available.

The state highway department, a Florida police officer and Tampa's Hillsborough County are sharing the costs of a $105,000 liability settlement. Family members of a crime suspect who suffered a deadly stroke also received a $1 million wrongful death settlement from two other defendants, the sheriff's department and a jail medical provider, earlier this year.

According to the complaint, all the named defendants were negligent in the treatment of a 51-year-man found in his car along Interstate 275 last year. The parked driver's words made no sense to an investigating state trooper; the man refused to budge when the officer ordered him to get out of the car. An arrest was made on an obstruction of justice charge, after paramedics checked the driver.

No medical exam was given when the man, whose left side was incapacitated, was jailed. The inmate languished in a cell for over a day, wet with his own urine, before the prison medical staff sent the prisoner to a hospital. Doctors confirmed the man had suffered a stroke. The suspect lapsed into a coma and later died.

The case remains under investigation by state health officials.

The medical services contractor hired to treat the prisoner paid $800,000 in the earlier settlement, to which the sheriff's department added $200,000. The trooper who made the arrest was responsible for a $5,000 payment. The state and county agreed to settle for separate $52,500 payments. A government lawyer said the county's portion might have been higher than the settlement had the case gone to trial.

State laws limit the damages plaintiffs receive to $300,000 in liability claims against more than one government agency. That limit was reached in the prisoner's family settlements.

Source:, "Tampa stroke victim's heirs will receive $105,000 from county, state" Peter Jamison and Bill Varian, Oct. 02, 2013

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