Florida Senate - 2018 (NP) SB 18 By Senator Braynon 35-00102-18 201818__ 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 requiring certain funds to be placed into an 8 irrevocable trust; providing a limitation on attorney 9 fees; providing an effective date. 10 11 WHEREAS, beginning at a very young age, J.W. was subjected 12 to incidents of physical and sexual abuse, which caused him to 13 become sexually aggressive, and 14 WHEREAS, on September 5, 2002, J.W., then in the custody of 15 the Department of Children and Families (DCF), formerly known as 16 the Department of Children and Family Services, was placed into 17 the home of C.M.H., whose parents volunteered to have J.W. live 18 in their home, and 19 WHEREAS, before the placement of J.W. with the family, DCF 20 obtained a comprehensive behavioral health assessment that 21 stated that J.W. was sexually aggressive and that recommended 22 specific precautions and training for potential foster parents, 23 which C.M.H.’s parents did not receive, and 24 WHEREAS, the testimony of the DCF caseworker confirmed that 25 DCF was aware that then-10-year-old J.W. and then-8-year-old 26 C.M.H. were sharing a bedroom, and 27 WHEREAS, on October 31, 2002, J.W. sexually assaulted a 4 28 year-old child who was visiting C.M.H.’s home, and 29 WHEREAS, although DCF knew that J.W. was sexually 30 aggressive, the agency did not remove him from the home, and 31 WHEREAS, after November 2002, J.W.’s behavioral problems 32 escalated, and he deliberately squeezed C.M.H.’s pet mouse to 33 death in front of C.M.H. and made physical threats toward 34 C.M.H., and 35 WHEREAS, C.M.H.’s parents began to discuss adopting J.W., 36 whom they considered a part of their family, and 37 WHEREAS, in January 2004, the family began taking 38 therapeutic parenting classes to better meet J.W.’s needs, and 39 WHEREAS, in March 2004, after C.M.H.’s mother was diagnosed 40 with stage 4 terminal metastatic colon cancer, which had spread 41 to her liver, C.M.H.’s father requested that DCF stop the 42 process of having the family designated as “long-term 43 nonrelative caregivers,” and 44 WHEREAS, in April 2004, DCF closed out J.W.’s dependency 45 file, leaving J.W. in the custody of the family, and 46 WHEREAS, in April 2005, C.M.H.’s father wrote DCF and the 47 juvenile judge assigned to the case to request help in placing 48 J.W. in a residential treatment facility, and 49 WHEREAS, on July 28, 2005, after a physical altercation 50 between J.W. and C.M.H., C.M.H. disclosed to his parents that 51 J.W. had sexually assaulted him, and J.W. was immediately 52 removed from the home, and 53 WHEREAS, C.M.H. sustained severe and permanent psychiatric 54 injuries, including posttraumatic stress disorder, as a result 55 of the sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated by J.W., and 56 WHEREAS, the sexual assault of C.M.H. by J.W. was 57 predictable and preventable, and 58 WHEREAS, on April 14, 2006, a lawsuit, Case No. 2006 CA 59 003727, was filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit in and for Palm 60 Beach County on behalf of C.M.H., by and through his parents, 61 alleging negligence on the part of DCF and its providers, which 62 allowed the perpetration of sexual abuse against and the 63 victimization of C.M.H. by J.W., and 64 WHEREAS, a mutually agreeable settlement could not be 65 reached, and a jury trial was held in Palm 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 paid the family of C.M.H. $100,000, the 71 statutory limit at that time under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, 72 and 73 WHEREAS, C.M.H., now a young adult, is at a vulnerable 74 stage in his life and urgently needs to recover the balance of 75 the judgment awarded him so that his psychiatric injuries may be 76 addressed and he may lead a normal life, and 77 WHEREAS, the balance of the judgment is to be paid into an 78 irrevocable trust through the passage of this claim bill in the 79 amount of $5,076,543.08, NOW, THEREFORE, 80 81 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 82 83 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 84 found and declared to be true. 85 Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue 86 Fund to the Department of Children and Families the sum of 87 $5,076,543.08 for the relief of C.M.H. for the personal injuries 88 and damages he sustained. After payment of attorney fees and 89 costs, lobbying fees, and other similar expenses relating to 90 this claim, the remaining funds shall be placed into an 91 irrevocable trust created for C.M.H. for his exclusive use and 92 benefit. 93 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 94 a warrant in favor of C.M.H. in the sum of $5,076,543.08 upon 95 funds of the Department of Children and Families in the State 96 Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the 97 same out of such funds in the State Treasury not otherwise 98 appropriated. 99 Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Children 100 and Families pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 101 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 102 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 103 the factual situation described in the preamble to this act 104 which resulted in the personal injuries and damages to C.M.H. 105 The total amount of attorney fees relating to this claim may not 106 exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 107 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.