Florida school board agrees to pay settlement to football player with brain injury

The Hillsborough County School Board agreed to settle a lawsuit by an injured high school football player and his family. The school board will pay $2 million to settle the brain injury lawsuit.

The 16-year-old was not wearing a helmet when he hit his head on a paint machine during football practice in Oct. 2013. The Wharton High School student was warming up in drills. After the incident, he was in a coma for nine days, and doctors told his family he might not survive. The student has now recovered to some extent, but will have long-term medical issues, his family said.

Under the terms of the $2 million settlement, $300,000 will be paid to the family immediately, and the school board will support a claim bill in the Florida Legislature for the rest of the funds. Under state law, a claim bill is necessary for any settlement amount over $300,000.

In addition to the financial settlement, the school district also committed to training staff members in how to prevent and treat injuries to the head. A new set of procedures will be put in place, establishing what must be done whenever a head injury is suspected. The protocol will be reviewed and updated annually, and could serve as a model for schools across Florida.

Appeals court rules Florida provision requiring disclosure of adverse medical incidents preempted by federal law

A provision of the Florida constitution that requires health care providers to disclose adverse medical incidents is preempted by federal law, a state appeals court has ruled.

In the case of Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc. v. Jean Charles, Jr., the First District Court of Appeal held that the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, a federal law, preempts Article X, section 25 of the Florida constitution, which is known by its designation on the ballot: Amendment 7.

Amendment 7 mandates that health care providers disclose “adverse medical incidents,” defined as any act, default or neglect on the part of a health care provider or facility that could have caused or did cause a patient to suffer injury or death. The information must be disclosed to any citizen of Florida who requests it. Amendment 7 sought to make medical mistakes more transparent, and it has also been used by plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits to obtain relevant information about defendants.

Now, the First District Court of Appeal has held that Amendment 7 is preempted by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, which encourages health care providers to collect information about medical errors, which can then be provided to a patient safety organization for analysis and recommendations. However, under the Act, the information collected is privileged until the medical provider decides to report it.

The court’s opinion is not final until after the expiration of the time to file a motion for rehearing. It is not yet known whether an appeal will be made to the Florida Supreme Court.