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Jeff Atwater plus trial lawyers equals $24.8 million claim

A $24.8 million medical negligence claim against the University of South Florida Tampa has proceeded through the legislative process with a swiftness that has raised questions about the Senate leadership’s role.

The award bill, the costliest claim to be heard in the Senate so far, passed through the Health Regulation Committee in a 5-2 vote this week.

“You don’t get any faster track than that,” said J. M. “Mac’’ Stipanovich, a USF lobbyist Thursday.

At least four partners in Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley, the West Palm Beach law firm that represented the Estradas, each contributed the maximum $500 donation to the campaign of Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, last year.

Atwater spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof dismissed the notion that campaign contributions were a factor, noting other claims bills have also been heard in committee this month.

“He does not have a pattern of reacting because someone may have supported him,” she said.

More here.