Zombicon Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Suing Government Actors
Fort Myers recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit for a 20-year-old who was killed in the 2015 Zombicon mass shooting. The city agreed to pay Expavious Taylor’s estate $40,000, after having already spent $55,000 in other Zombicon-related settlements, including two personal injury awards made to men wounded during the shooting. Two other personal injury lawsuits have not yet been resolved.
The shooting took place in October 2015 at the popular horror-themed block party, with about 20,000 people in attendance. The event was winding down when someone opened fire, killing Taylor and wounding six others. As of September 2017, police had not made any arrests related to the incident.
Fort Myers had hosted Zombicon for nine years, but two months after the shooting the City Council voted to cut ties with event organizers.
Exceeding the Damages Cap and Statute of Limitations
Generally, government actors don’t have to pay large jury awards because of a legal concept called “sovereign immunity.”
Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that prevents government actors from being sued without their consent. State law waives this liability in tort actions (i.e., personal injury claims against the government) but imposes a cap on available damages. The state of Florida can be held liable for up to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim. Note that government employees cannot be held personally responsible unless they intentionally caused the harm.
If the judgment exceeds these amounts, the legislature may decide to compensate the injured party for the entire damages award. To do so, the legislature must pass a claim bill, which is legislation “that compensates a particular individual or entity for injuries or losses occasioned by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency. It is a means by which an injured party may recover damages even though the public officer or agency involved may be immune from suit. Majority approval in both chambers of the Legislature is required for passage.”
Claims may also be resolved without legislative action within the limits of the government actor’s insurance coverage.
Florida municipalities like Miami and Fort Myers can also be held liable in tort actions. However, any personal injury action instituted against a state or municipal actor must be presented in writing to the appropriate government actor (in some cases it must also be presented to the Department of Financial Services) within three years after the claim accrues. Wrongful death claims must be presented within two years. The law imposes additional limitations, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney before filing a claim against the government.
Contact Us Today
Contact a Miami personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of state or municipal negligence. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover the compensation that you deserve.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.