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. 9 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, 82 83 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 84 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.