Florida Senate - 2016                              (NP)    SB 30
       By Senator Garcia
       38-00128-16                                             201630__
    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.
   10         WHEREAS, J.W. was victimized from the time he was 18 months
   11  of age by his mother’s boyfriend, which caused him to become
   12  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 temporarily
   16  placed into the home of C.M.H., whose parents became nonrelative
   17  caregivers and volunteered to have J.W. live in their home, and
   18         WHEREAS, the DCF caseworker assigned to J.W.’s case failed
   19  to disclose to C.M.H.’s family a recommendation that J.W. be
   20  expeditiously placed in a residential treatment facility; that
   21  he had an extensive history as a victim and perpetrator of
   22  sexual abuse; and that he was an alleged juvenile sexual
   23  offender, and
   24         WHEREAS, prior to the placement of J.W. with the family,
   25  DCF obtained a comprehensive behavioral health assessment that
   26  stated that J.W. was sexually aggressive and recommended
   27  specific precautions and training for potential foster parents,
   28  and which C.M.H.’s parents did not receive, and
   29         WHEREAS, the testimony of the DCF caseworker confirms that
   30  DCF was aware that 10-year-old J.W. and C.M.H., who was then 8
   31  years old, were sharing the same bedroom, and
   32         WHEREAS, on October 31, 2002, J.W. sexually assaulted a 4
   33  year-old child who was visiting C.M.H.’s home, and
   34         WHEREAS, although DCF knew that J.W. was a sexual offender,
   35  the agency did not remove him from the home, and
   36         WHEREAS, DCF failed to implement a written safety plan as
   37  required by DCF Operating Procedure 175-88, and
   38         WHEREAS, after November 2002, J.W.’s behavioral problems
   39  escalated, and he deliberately squeezed C.M.H.’s pet mouse to
   40  death in front of C.M.H. and made physical threats toward
   41  C.M.H., and
   42         WHEREAS, C.M.H.’s parents decided to begin the process of
   43  adopting J.W., whom they considered a part of their family, and
   44         WHEREAS, the family subsequently became aware that J.W.
   45  needed significant mental health treatment, including placement
   46  in a residential treatment facility, and
   47         WHEREAS, the family was informed by DCF that they would not
   48  be granted visitation privileges if J.W. was removed from their
   49  home and placed in a residential treatment facility, and
   50         WHEREAS, in January 2004, the family began taking classes
   51  to train to be therapeutic foster parents to better meet J.W.’s
   52  needs, and
   53         WHEREAS, in March 2004, after C.M.H.’s mother was diagnosed
   54  with Stage 4, terminal, metastatic colon cancer, which had
   55  spread to her liver, C.M.H.’s father, contacted DCF to postpone
   56  the adoption, and
   57         WHEREAS, in April 2004, DCF closed out J.W.’s dependency
   58  file, leaving J.W. in the custody of the family without any
   59  subsidies or assistance, and
   60         WHEREAS, in April 2005, C.M.H.’s father wrote DCF and the
   61  juvenile judge assigned to the case to request help in placing
   62  J.W. in a residential treatment facility, however, DCF provided
   63  no assistance, and
   64         WHEREAS, on July 28, 2005, after a physical altercation
   65  between J.W. and C.M.H., C.M.H. disclosed to his parents that
   66  J.W. had sexually assaulted him, and J.W. was immediately
   67  removed from the home, and
   68         WHEREAS, C.M.H. sustained severe and permanent psychiatric
   69  injury, including posttraumatic stress disorder, as a result of
   70  the sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated by J.W., and without
   71  immediate interventions will face a lifetime of dysfunction,
   72  trauma, and tragedy, and
   73         WHEREAS, the sexual assault of C.M.H. by J.W. was
   74  predictable and preventable, and
   75         WHEREAS, on April 14, 2006, a lawsuit, Case No. 2006 CA
   76  003727, was filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit in and for Palm
   77  Beach County on behalf of C.M.H., by and through his parents,
   78  alleging negligence on the part of DCF and its providers, which
   79  allowed the perpetration of sexual abuse against and the
   80  victimization of C.M.H. by J.W., and
   81         WHEREAS, DCF aggressively defended and denied the
   82  allegations in the claim and a jury trial was set in Palm Beach
   83  County, and
   84         WHEREAS, on January 2, 2014, after a jury trial and verdict
   85  for $5 million, the court entered a judgment against DCF for
   86  $5,176,543.08, including costs, and
   87         WHEREAS, the Division of Risk Management of the Department
   88  of Financial Services has paid the family of C.M.H. $100,000, as
   89  allowed under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, for legal expenses,
   90  which is less than half of the total amount of litigation costs
   91  expended by plaintiff’s counsel to litigate this case and to
   92  complete the trial, and
   93         WHEREAS, C.M.H., now 22 years of age, is at a vulnerable
   94  stage in his life and urgently needs to recover the balance of
   95  the judgment awarded him so that his psychiatric injuries may be
   96  addressed and he may lead a normal life, and
   97         WHEREAS, the balance of the judgment is to be paid into an
   98  irrevocable trust through the passage of this claim bill in the
   99  amount of $5,076,543.08, NOW, THEREFORE,
  101  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  103         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
  104  found and declared to be true.
  105         Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue
  106  Fund to the Department of Children and Families the sum of
  107  $5,076,543.08 for the relief of C.M.H. for the personal injuries
  108  and damages he sustained. After payment of attorney fees and
  109  costs, lobbying fees, and other similar expenses relating to
  110  this claim, the remaining funds shall be placed into an
  111  irrevocable trust created for C.M.H. for his exclusive use and
  112  benefit.
  113         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
  114  a warrant in favor of C.M.H. in the sum of $5,076,543.08 upon
  115  funds of the Department of Children and Families in the State
  116  Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the
  117  same out of such funds in the State Treasury not otherwise
  118  appropriated.
  119         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Children
  120  and Families pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the
  121  amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole
  122  compensation for all present and future claims arising out of
  123  the factual situation described in the preamble to this act
  124  which resulted in the personal injuries and damages to C.M.H.
  125  The total amount of attorney fees and lobbying fees relating to
  126  this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under
  127  this act.
  128         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.