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2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Claims against the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund.
Claims against the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund.
376.123 Claims against the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund.—
(1) A person making a claim against the fund may not have such claim approved during the pendency of a judicial or other proceeding by the person to recover costs or damages which are the subject of the claim.
(2)(a) Whenever the department has designated a vessel or terminal facility as a source of a moderate or major discharge, all claims for cleanup costs or damages under ss. 376.011-376.21 shall be presented first to the responsible party for the designated source, pursuant to paragraph (b), before they may be presented to the fund.
(b) If a responsible party fails to inform the department, within 5 days after receiving notification of a designation under paragraph (a), of the party’s denial of the designation, such party shall advertise the designation and the procedures by which claims may be presented, in accordance with department rules. Advertisement shall begin no later than 15 days after the date the department has made the designation. If advertisement is not otherwise made in accordance with this paragraph, the department shall promptly and at the expense of the responsible party advertise the designation and the procedures by which claims may be presented to the responsible party.
(c) If a claim is presented in accordance with paragraph (b) and:
1. Each party who has been alleged to be the responsible party and to whom the claim has been presented denies all liability for the claim; or
2. Full and adequate payment of the claim for cleanup costs and damages is not made by the responsible party within 90 days after the claim is presented or the advertisement is begun, whichever is later,
the claimant may present the claim to the fund.
(3) Any person who is eligible under s. 376.09 may assert a claim against the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund for reimbursement of cleanup costs, provided that:
(a) Such claim is presented within 180 days of completion of the person’s assistance with cleanup. The secretary may, upon petition and for good cause shown, waive the prescribed time period for filing cleanup claims. The prescribed time period shall be tolled during pendency of the claimant’s claim against a responsible party pursuant to subsection (2), until the time specified in paragraph (2)(c).
(b) The claimant shall provide the department with the required documentation concerning amounts expended for cleanup costs. The department shall prescribe appropriate forms and other requirements for such claims.
(4) Any person claiming to have suffered damages, as defined in s. 376.031, excluding natural resource damages, as a result of a discharge of pollutants prohibited by s. 376.041 may, within 180 days after the date of such discharge, apply to the department for reimbursement from the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund. It shall be the responsibility of the claimant to provide the department with the required documentation concerning the damages suffered as a direct result of the discharge. The department shall prescribe appropriate forms and requirements for such application, which application shall include a provision requiring the applicant to make a sworn verification of the damage claimed to the best of the applicant’s knowledge. The secretary of the department may, upon petition and for good cause shown, waive the 180-day limitation for filing damage claims. The prescribed time period shall be tolled during pendency of the claimant’s claim against a responsible party pursuant to subsection (2), until the time specified in paragraph (2)(c).
(5) The secretary shall establish the amount to be awarded and shall certify the amount of the award and the name of the claimant to the Chief Financial Officer, who shall pay the award from the fund, subject to the provisions of subsection (12). If the claimant agrees with the established amount of award, the settlement shall be binding upon both parties as to all issues and cannot be further attacked, collaterally or by separate action, in the future.
(6) If either the claimant or the responsible party disagrees with the amount of the damage award, such person may request a hearing pursuant to s. 120.57.
(7) Each person’s damage claims arising from a single occurrence shall be stated in one application. Damages omitted from any claim at the time the award is made shall be deemed waived.
(8) If a person chooses to make a claim against the fund and accepts payment from, or a judgment against, the fund, then the department shall be subrogated to any cause of action that the claimant may have had, to the extent of such payment or judgment, and shall diligently pursue recovery on that cause of action pursuant to subsection (10) and s. 376.11(8). In any such action, the amount of damages shall be proved by the department by submitting to the court a written report of the amounts paid or owed from the fund to claimants. Such written report shall be admissible as evidence, and the amounts paid from or owed by the fund to the claimants stated therein shall be irrebuttably presumed to be the amount of damages.
(9) The department shall be a necessary party to all administrative hearings and court proceedings under this section.
(10) It shall be the duty of the department in administering the fund to pursue diligently the reimbursement to the fund of any sum expended from the fund for, and any other state moneys not budgeted for but expended for, cleanup, abatement, and damages in accordance with the provisions of ss. 376.011-376.21.
(11) In the event the total awards against the fund exceed the present balance of the fund, the claimants shall be paid from the future income of the fund.
(12) In the event the total awards for a specific occurrence exceed the current balance of the fund, the immediate award shall be paid on a prorated basis, and all claimants paid on a prorated basis shall be paid a pro rata share of all funds received by the fund, until the total amount of the proven damages is paid to the claimant or claimants. However, amounts collected by the fund from the prosecution of causes of action pursuant to subsections (8) and (10) shall be utilized to satisfy the claims as to which such prosecutions relate to the extent theretofore unsatisfied.
(13) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to limit the liability of vessels, terminal facilities, or the fund for damages.
History.—s. 10, ch. 96-263; s. 390, ch. 2003-261; s. 55, ch. 2015-229.