Florida Senate - 2016 (NP) CS for SB 30 By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Garcia 590-03326-16 201630c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of C.M.H.; providing an 3 appropriation to compensate C.M.H. for injuries and 4 damages sustained as a result of the negligence of the 5 Department of Children and Families, formerly known as 6 the Department of Children and Family Services; 7 providing a limitation on the payment of fees and 8 costs; providing an effective date. 9 10 WHEREAS, beginning at a very young age, J.W. was subjected 11 to incidents of physical and sexual abuse, which caused him to 12 become sexually aggressive, and 13 WHEREAS, on September 5, 2002, J.W., then in the custody of 14 the Department of Children and Families (DCF), formerly known as 15 the Department of Children and Family Services, was placed into 16 the home of C.M.H., whose parents volunteered to have J.W. live 17 in their home, and 18 WHEREAS, prior to the placement of J.W. with the family, 19 DCF obtained a comprehensive behavioral health assessment that 20 stated that J.W. was sexually aggressive and recommended 21 specific precautions and training for potential foster parents, 22 which C.M.H.’s parents did not receive, and 23 WHEREAS, the testimony of the DCF caseworker confirms that 24 DCF was aware that then-10-year-old J.W. and then-8-year-old 25 C.M.H. were sharing a bedroom, and 26 WHEREAS, on October 31, 2002, J.W. sexually assaulted a 4 27 year-old child who was visiting C.M.H.’s home, and 28 WHEREAS, although DCF knew that J.W. was sexually 29 aggressive, the agency did not remove him from the home, and 30 WHEREAS, after November 2002, J.W.’s behavioral problems 31 escalated, and he deliberately squeezed C.M.H.’s pet mouse to 32 death in front of C.M.H. and made physical threats toward 33 C.M.H., and 34 WHEREAS, C.M.H.’s parents began to discuss adopting J.W., 35 whom they considered a part of their family, and 36 WHEREAS, in January 2004, the family began taking 37 therapeutic parenting classes to better meet J.W.’s needs, and 38 WHEREAS, in March 2004, after C.M.H.’s mother was diagnosed 39 with Stage 4, terminal, metastatic colon cancer, which had 40 spread to her liver, C.M.H.’s father, requested that DCF stop 41 the process of having the family designated as “long-term 42 nonrelative caregivers,” and 43 WHEREAS, in April 2004, DCF closed out J.W.’s dependency 44 file, leaving J.W. in the custody of the family, and 45 WHEREAS, in April 2005, C.M.H.’s father wrote DCF and the 46 juvenile judge assigned to the case to request help in placing 47 J.W. in a residential treatment facility, and 48 WHEREAS, on July 28, 2005, after a physical altercation 49 between J.W. and C.M.H., C.M.H. disclosed to his parents that 50 J.W. had sexually assaulted him, and J.W. was immediately 51 removed from the home, and 52 WHEREAS, C.M.H. sustained severe and permanent psychiatric 53 injury, including posttraumatic stress disorder, as a result of 54 the sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated by J.W., and 55 WHEREAS, the sexual assault of C.M.H. by J.W. was 56 predictable and preventable, and 57 WHEREAS, on April 14, 2006, a lawsuit, Case No. 2006 CA 58 003727, was filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit in and for Palm 59 Beach County on behalf of C.M.H., by and through his parents, 60 alleging negligence on the part of DCF and its providers, which 61 allowed the perpetration of sexual abuse against and the 62 victimization of C.M.H. by J.W., and 63 WHEREAS, a mutually agreeable settlement could not be 64 reached between all parties, and a jury trial was set in Palm 65 Beach County, and 66 WHEREAS, on January 2, 2014, after a jury trial and 67 verdict, the court entered a judgment against DCF for 68 $5,176,543.08, including costs, and 69 WHEREAS, the Division of Risk Management of the Department 70 of Financial Services has paid the family of C.M.H. $100,000, as 71 allowed under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and 72 WHEREAS, C.M.H., now 22 years of age, is at a vulnerable 73 stage in his life and urgently needs to recover the balance of 74 the judgment awarded him so that his psychiatric injuries may be 75 addressed and he may lead a normal life, and 76 WHEREAS, the balance of the judgment is to be paid into an 77 irrevocable trust through the passage of this claim bill in the 78 amount of $5,076,543.08, NOW, THEREFORE, 79 80 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 81 82 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 83 found and declared to be true. 84 Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue 85 Fund to the Department of Children and Families the sum of 86 $5,076,543.08 for the relief of C.M.H. for the personal injuries 87 and damages he sustained. After payment of attorney fees and 88 costs, lobbying fees, and other similar expenses relating to 89 this claim, the remaining funds shall be placed into an 90 irrevocable trust created for C.M.H. for his exclusive use and 91 benefit. 92 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 93 a warrant in favor of C.M.H. in the sum of $5,076,543.08 upon 94 funds of the Department of Children and Families in the State 95 Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the 96 same out of such funds in the State Treasury not otherwise 97 appropriated. 98 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Children 99 and Families pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 100 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 101 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 102 the factual situation described in the preamble to this act 103 which resulted in the personal injuries and damages to C.M.H. 104 The total amount of attorney fees and lobbying fees relating to 105 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 106 this act. 107 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.