Florida Senate - 2012                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 4
                                Barcode 615420                          
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
                  Comm: RCS            .                                
                  11/16/2011           .                                

       The Committee on Rules (Gardiner) recommended the following:
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
    6  found and declared to be true.
    7         Section 2. The Sheriff of Broward County is authorized and
    8  directed to appropriate from funds of the Broward County
    9  Sheriff’s Office not otherwise appropriated and to draw a
   10  warrant payable to the Guardianship of Eric Brody for one-half
   11  of all amounts that remain unpaid in accordance with the final
   12  judgment, plus the cost judgment, in the sum of $15,575,021.30
   13  as compensation for injuries and damages sustained as a result
   14  of the negligence of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
   15         Section 3. The amount to be paid by the Broward County
   16  Sheriff’s Office pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and
   17  the amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the
   18  sole compensation for all claims arising out of the facts
   19  described in this act which resulted in the injuries to Eric
   20  Brody. The total amount of attorney’s fees, lobbying fees,
   21  costs, and other similar expenses may not exceed 25 percent of
   22  the total amount awarded under section 2 of this act.
   23         Section 4. It is the intent of the Legislature that one
   24  half of the lien interests held by the state resulting from the
   25  treatment and care of Eric Brody for the events described in the
   26  preamble of this act are not waived and extinguished, and the
   27  claimant’s guardianship shall reimburse the state for one-half
   28  of the expenses of Medicaid, Medicare, or the Agency for Health
   29  Care Administration pursuant to s. 409.910, Florida Statutes.
   30  The claimant’s guardianship shall pay the amount due pursuant to
   31  this act prior to distributing any funds to the claimant.
   32         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
   34  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
   35         And the title is amended as follows:
   36         Delete everything before the enacting clause
   37  and insert:
   38                        A bill to be entitled                      
   39         An act for the relief of Eric Brody by the Broward
   40         County Sheriff’s Office; providing for an
   41         appropriation to compensate Eric Brody for injuries
   42         sustained as a result of the negligence of the Broward
   43         County Sheriff’s Office; providing a limitation on the
   44         payment of fees and costs related to the claim against
   45         the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; providing
   46         legislative intent regarding lien interests held by
   47         the state; requiring that the guardianship pay a
   48         portion of such liens before distributing funds to the
   49         claimant; providing an effective date.
   51         WHEREAS, on the evening of March 3, 1998, 18-year-old Eric
   52  Brody, a college-bound high school senior, was returning home
   53  from his part-time job at the Sawgrass Mills Sports Authority.
   54  Eric was driving his 1982 AMC Concord eastbound on Oakland Park
   55  Boulevard in Sunrise, Florida, and
   56         WHEREAS, that same evening, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy
   57  Christopher Thieman, who had been visiting his girlfriend and
   58  was running late for duty, was driving his Broward County
   59  Sheriff’s Office cruiser westbound on Oakland Park Boulevard. At
   60  the time he left his girlfriend’s house, Deputy Thieman had less
   61  than 15 minutes to travel 11 miles to make roll call on time,
   62  which was mandatory pursuant to sheriff’s office policy and
   63  procedure, and
   64         WHEREAS, at approximately 10:36 p.m., Eric Brody began to
   65  make a left-hand turn into his neighborhood at the intersection
   66  of N.W. 117th Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard. Deputy Thieman,
   67  who was driving in excess of the 45-mile-per-hour posted speed
   68  limit and traveling in the opposite direction, was not within
   69  the intersection and was more than 430 feet away from Eric
   70  Brody’s car when Eric Brody began the turn. Eric Brody’s car
   71  cleared two of the three westbound lanes on Oakland Park
   72  Boulevard, and
   73         WHEREAS, Deputy Thieman, who was traveling in the inside
   74  westbound lane closest to the median, suddenly and inexplicably
   75  steered his vehicle to the right, across the center lane and
   76  into the outside lane, where the front end of his car struck the
   77  passenger side of Eric’s car with great force, just behind the
   78  right front wheel and near the passenger door, and
   79         WHEREAS, Deputy Thieman testified at trial that although he
   80  knew that the posted speed limit was 45 miles per hour, he
   81  refused to provide an estimate as to how fast he was traveling
   82  before the crash, and
   83         WHEREAS, in the course of the investigation, the Broward
   84  County Sheriff’s Office lost key evidence from the crashed
   85  vehicles and did not report any witnesses even though the first
   86  responders to the crash scene were police officers from the City
   87  of Sunrise, and
   88         WHEREAS, the Broward County detective who led the crash
   89  investigation entered inaccurate data into a computerized
   90  accident reconstruction program which skewed the speed that
   91  Deputy Thieman was driving, but, nevertheless, determined that
   92  he was still traveling well over the speed limit, and
   93         WHEREAS, accident reconstruction experts called by both
   94  parties testified that Deputy Thieman was driving at least 60 to
   95  more than 70 miles per hour when his vehicle slammed into the
   96  passenger side of Eric Brody’s car, and
   97         WHEREAS, Eric Brody was found unconscious 6 minutes later
   98  by paramedics, his head and upper torso leaning upright and
   99  toward the passenger-side door. Although he was out of his
  100  shoulder harness and seat belt by the time paramedics arrived,
  101  the Brody’s attorney proved that Eric was wearing his seat belt
  102  and that the 16-year-old seat belt buckle failed during the
  103  crash. Photographs taken at the scene by the sheriff’s office
  104  investigators showed the belt to be fully spooled out because
  105  the retractor was jammed, with the belt dangling outside the
  106  vehicle from the driver-side door, providing proof that Eric
  107  Brody was wearing his seat belt and shoulder harness during the
  108  crash, and
  109         WHEREAS, accident reconstruction and human factor experts
  110  called by both the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that if
  111  Deputy Thieman been driving at the speed limit, Eric Brody would
  112  have easily completed his turn, and
  113         WHEREAS, the experts also agreed that if Deputy Thieman
  114  simply remained within his lane of travel, regardless of his
  115  speed, there would not have been a collision, and
  116         WHEREAS, in order to investigate the seat-belt defense,
  117  experts for Eric Brody recreated the accident using an exact
  118  car-to-car crash test that was conducted by a nationally
  119  recognized crash test facility. The crash test involved vehicles
  120  identical to the Brody and Thieman vehicles, a fully
  121  instrumented hybrid III dummy, and high-speed action cameras,
  122  and
  123         WHEREAS, the crash test proved that Eric Brody was wearing
  124  his restraint system during the crash because the seat-belted
  125  test dummy struck its head on the passenger door within inches
  126  of where Eric Brody’s head actually struck the passenger door,
  127  and
  128         WHEREAS, when Eric Brody’s head struck the passenger door
  129  of his vehicle, the door crushed inward from the force of the
  130  impact with the police cruiser while at the same time his upper
  131  torso was moving toward the point of impact and the passenger
  132  door. The impact resulted in skull fractures and massive brain
  133  sheering, bleeding, bruising, and swelling, and
  134         WHEREAS, Eric Brody was airlifted by helicopter to Broward
  135  General Hospital where he was placed on a ventilator and
  136  underwent an emergency craniotomy and neurosurgery. He began to
  137  recover from a deep coma more than 7 months after his injury and
  138  underwent extensive rehabilitation, having to relearn how to
  139  walk, talk, feed himself, and perform other basic functions, and
  140         WHEREAS, Eric Brody, who is now 32 years old, has been left
  141  profoundly brain-injured, lives with his parents, and is mostly
  142  isolated from his former friends and other young people his age.
  143  His speech is barely intelligible and he has significant
  144  cognitive dysfunction, judgment impairment, memory loss, and
  145  neuro-visual disabilities. Eric Brody also has impaired fine and
  146  gross motor skills and very poor balance. Although Eric is able
  147  to use a walker for short distances, he mostly uses a wheelchair
  148  to get around. The entire left side of his body is partially
  149  paralyzed and spastic, and he needs help with many of his daily
  150  functions. Eric Brody is permanently and totally disabled;
  151  however, he has a normal life expectancy, and
  152         WHEREAS, the cost of Eric Brody’s life care plan is nearly
  153  $10 million, and he has been left totally dependent on public
  154  health programs and taxpayer assistance since 1998, and
  155         WHEREAS, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was insured
  156  for this claim through Ranger Insurance Company and paid more
  157  than $400,000 for liability coverage, and
  158         WHEREAS, on December 1, 2005, after a 2-month trial, a
  159  Broward County jury consisting of three men and three women
  160  found that that Deputy Thieman and the Broward County Sheriff’s
  161  Office were 100 percent negligent, and Eric Brody was not
  162  comparatively negligent, and
  163         WHEREAS, the jury found Eric Brody’s damages to be
  164  $30,609,298, including a determination that his past and future
  165  care and other economic damages were $11,326,216, and
  166         WHEREAS, final judgment was entered for $30,609,298, and
  167  the court entered a cost judgment for $270,372.30, for a total
  168  of $30,879,670.30, and
  169         WHEREAS, the court denied the Broward County Sheriff’s
  170  Office posttrial motions for judgment notwithstanding the
  171  verdict, new trial, or remittitur, and
  172         WHEREAS, the insurer of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office
  173  retained appellate counsel and elected to appeal the final
  174  judgment but not the cost judgment, and
  175         WHEREAS, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the
  176  verdict in the fall of 2007, and
  177         WHEREAS, the insurer of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office
  178  subsequently petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to seek
  179  another appeal, but the petition was denied in April of 2008,
  180  and
  181         WHEREAS, all legal remedies for all parties involved have
  182  been exhausted and this case is ripe for a claim bill, and
  183         WHEREAS, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has paid
  184  $200,000 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount
  185  of $15,575,021.30 is sought through the submission of a claim
  186  bill to the Legislature, NOW, THEREFORE,