Paralyzed teen waiting on $3.5 million settlement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - After 18-year-old Aubrey Stewart was paralyzed by a falling branch from a tree owned by the city of Jacksonville, the city quickly agreed to pay his family $3.5 million. But the president of the Florida Senate won't give his claim a hearing.

Under Florida law, any claim over $200,000 against a city must be approved by the Legislature, even if the money would be paid by a local government.

Senate President Don Gaetz is refusing to make an exception in Stewart's case. Gaetz says the so-called claims bill system relies too much on emotion, and sympathetic claimants or those who hire prominent lobbyists fare better than others who might have more valid cases.

Jacksonville's City Council voted unanimously to ask Gaetz to make an exception so Stewart can be paid.


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