Florida Senate - 2018                              (NP)    SB 50
       By Senator Gainer
       2-00261-18                                              201850__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Colton Merville; providing an
    3         appropriation to compensate him for injuries and
    4         damages sustained as result of the negligence of the
    5         Department of Corrections in connection with the
    6         shooting death of his mother, Camilla Claudine
    7         Merville; providing a limitation on the payment of
    8         attorney fees; providing an effective date.
   10         WHEREAS, on the evening of June 18, 2007, Camilla Claudine
   11  Merville was shot and killed by probation officer Monica
   12  Pennington, an employee of the Department of Corrections, in
   13  front of the home where Ms. Merville rented a room from a
   14  friend, Brenda Madden, and
   15         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington was the parole officer for Ms.
   16  Merville, who was serving a sentence of 1-year probation for
   17  theft relating to the unauthorized taking of two blank checks
   18  from her mother and her cashing of those checks, and
   19         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington drove by the home of Ms. Madden
   20  on June 18, 2007, seeking to execute a warrant for the arrest of
   21  Ms. Merville for violation of her parole, and
   22         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington recognized Ms. Merville on the
   23  front porch of the Madden home and approached Ms. Merville to
   24  make the arrest, and
   25         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington failed to follow department
   26  guidelines in making the arrest by failing to wait for local law
   27  enforcement officers to arrive, and
   28         WHEREAS, after Officer Pennington advised Ms. Merville of
   29  her intent to arrest her, Ms. Merville stated that she wished to
   30  re-enter the dwelling to obtain footwear and to use the
   31  restroom, and she attempted to do so, and
   32         WHEREAS, a physical altercation ensued between Officer
   33  Pennington and Ms. Merville and Officer Pennington shot Ms.
   34  Merville in the heart with her service weapon, and
   35         WHEREAS, in her testimony, Ms. Madden described the
   36  physical altercation between Officer Pennington and Ms. Merville
   37  and stated that Officer Pennington grabbed Ms. Merville by the
   38  wrist, Ms. Merville struggled to free herself, and, during the
   39  course of the struggle Ms. Merville fell backward, grabbing
   40  either the hair or shirt of Officer Pennington to steady
   41  herself, and
   42         WHEREAS, Ms. Madden further stated that Officer Pennington
   43  demanded that Ms. Merville let go of her and told her that she
   44  would shoot her if she did not, and when Ms. Merville
   45  immediately failed to do so, Officer Pennington discharged her
   46  firearm striking Ms. Merville in the heart, and
   47         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington’s testimony differed
   48  substantially from Ms. Madden’s and another witness after-the
   49  fact regarding the altercation, and
   50         WHEREAS, department guidelines require officers to use
   51  deadly force only after all other reasonable efforts to avoid
   52  confrontation have been exhausted, including retreat and the use
   53  of defensive tactics or chemical agents, and
   54         WHEREAS, Officer Pennington failed to follow department
   55  regulations regarding the use of deadly force, and
   56         WHEREAS, Ms. Merville, at the time of her death, had a
   57  minor child named Colton Merville, and
   58         WHEREAS, the estate of Ms. Merville filed suit against the
   59  department in the Circuit Court of the Fourteenth District, in
   60  Bay County, Case No. 09-2315-CA, alleging the negligent death of
   61  Ms. Merville, and
   62         WHEREAS, at trial, the jury found that Officer Pennington
   63  and the department were negligent in causing the death of Ms.
   64  Merville, holding the department 60 percent at fault in the
   65  death of Ms. Merville, and Ms. Merville 40 percent at fault, and
   66         WHEREAS, the jury found that Colton Merville sustained
   67  damages in the amount of $650,000 for the loss of companionship,
   68  instruction, and guidance, and for mental pain and suffering, as
   69  the result of his mother’s death, and
   70         WHEREAS, on September 4, 2013, the Circuit Court of the
   71  Fourteenth District entered a judgment in the amount of $390,000
   72  against the department, adjusting the total to reflect Ms.
   73  Merville’s comparative negligence and ordering the payment of
   74  $100,000 to Ms. Merville’s estate, with the remaining judgment
   75  to be the subject of a claim bill, and
   76         WHEREAS, the Division of Risk Management of the Department
   77  of Financial Services paid $100,000 to the estate, the statutory
   78  limit at that time under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and
   79         WHEREAS, the estate of Ms. Merville seeks to recover the
   80  remaining $290,000 from the judgment entered by the Circuit
   81  Court, NOW, THEREFORE,
   83  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   85         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   86  found and declared to be true.
   87         Section 2. The sum of $290,000 is appropriated from the
   88  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Corrections to be paid
   89  for the relief of Colton Merville for injuries and damages
   90  sustained.
   91         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   92  a warrant in favor of the Estate of Camilla Claudene Merville in
   93  the sum of $290,000 upon funds of the Department of Corrections
   94  in the State Treasury and to pay the same out of such funds in
   95  the State Treasury.
   96         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Corrections
   97  pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded
   98  under this act are intended to provide the sole compensation for
   99  all present and future claims arising out of the factual
  100  situation described in this act which resulted in injuries and
  101  damages to Colton Merville. The total amount paid for attorney
  102  fees may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this
  103  act.
  104         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.