TAMPA — It has been nearly 20 years since Ramiro Companioni Jr. almost died in a crash with a city Water Department truck and more than 10 since a jury awarded him about $18 million.
On Tuesday, senators filed at least 18 claims bills for the January session. One of the biggest ones is SB 46, filed by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, that seeks to collect $17.8 million from the city of Tampa.
It involves the largest personal injury verdict against Tampa ever: Ramiro Companioni Jr. won $18 million. A jury awarded him that in 2004 for injuries he suffered in 1996 when he nearly died after a city water department truck collided into the motorcycle he was driving. He needed 300 units of blood, spent a month in an induced coma, and had a catheter for two years. He recovered, but has to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.
Despite the jury verdict, Companioni has seen very little of the money. In this 2016 story by Times Staff Writer Richard Danielson, Companioni had seen only $100,000 because of state limits on negligence claims against cities. Attorneys representing the city have aggressively gone after Companioni’s character.
One lawyer hired by the city, George Meros, a Tallahassee lawyer, said the Companioni money could put the public at risk because he posed a “danger to himself and others.”
“Everything physically, emotionally, spiritually that I have suffered since the accident has been the result of what happened to me on that day,” Companioni said in a 2014 deposition. “I’ve been abused, demeaned, disrespected, falsely accused.”
Will he finally get paid in 2018?