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Bill would aid woman run over by beach patrol

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers next year are expected to consider a bill that calls for Volusia County to pay $1.9 million to a Kansas woman who was seriously injured when she was run over by a county beach-patrol truck while sunbathing.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, on Monday filed what is known as a "claim" bill (SB 30) aimed at compensating Erin Joynt, who suffered skull, facial and rib injuries in 2011 while on a Volusia County beach.

The bill said the injuries have left Joynt unable to blink her eye without the assistance of a gold weight sewn into her eyelid. She also suffers from problems such as a perforated eardrum and hearing loss. 

A jury awarded $2.6 million in damages to Joynt in a lawsuit against the county.

An appeals court reduced that amount to $2 million, but the state's sovereign-immunity laws prevent the county from paying more than $100,000 without the Legislature passing a claim bill.

The Simmons bill, which lawmakers will consider during the 2017 legislative session, would direct the county to pay the remaining $1.9 million.

It also indicates the county has liability insurance that could cover the amount.