Florida Senate - 2022                              (NP)    SB 64
       By Senator Polsky
       29-00157-22                                             202264__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Ricardo Medrano-Arzate and
    3         Eva Chavez-Medrano, as personal representatives of
    4         Hilda Medrano, by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s
    5         Office; providing for an appropriation of funds to pay
    6         Ricardo Medrano-Arzate and Eva Chavez-Medrano for the
    7         damages awarded in connection with the death of their
    8         daughter as a result of the negligence of the
    9         Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office; providing a
   10         limitation on the payment of compensation and attorney
   11         fees; providing an effective date.
   13         WHEREAS, shortly after 2 a.m. on December 1, 2013, Hilda
   14  Medrano was riding in the passenger side of her cousin’s
   15  vehicle, traveling eastbound on State Road 70 in downtown
   16  Okeechobee, and
   17         WHEREAS, at the same time, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s
   18  Deputy Joseph Gracie was driving westbound on State Road 70 at a
   19  speed in excess of 95 miles per hour while responding, as
   20  backup, to a minor disturbance in the western part of
   21  Okeechobee, and
   22         WHEREAS, the speed limit on that portion of State Road 70
   23  is 35 miles per hour, and
   24         WHEREAS, Deputy Gracie recklessly sped without activating
   25  his emergency lights or sirens to warn other motorists in the
   26  area of his presence or that he was driving at such a high rate
   27  of speed, and
   28         WHEREAS, Deputy Gracie’s police cruiser struck the vehicle
   29  in which Hilda Medrano was a passenger on the passenger side
   30  door at a speed of 87 miles per hour, killing Hilda Medrano and
   31  her cousin and severely injuring a second passenger in that
   32  vehicle, and
   33         WHEREAS, an Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office internal
   34  affairs department investigation found that Deputy Gracie’s
   35  actions were unbecoming of an officer and in violation of four
   36  standing operating procedures of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s
   37  Office, and
   38         WHEREAS, at the time of her death, Hilda Medrano was a 21
   39  year-old college student with dreams of becoming an X-ray
   40  technician, and
   41         WHEREAS, Hilda Medrano’s parents, Ricardo Medrano-Arzate
   42  and Eva Chavez-Medrano, are legal immigrants to the United
   43  States who came to this country to work and provide their
   44  children with opportunities to achieve the American dream and
   45  have resided in the Mexican-American community in Okeechobee for
   46  more than 30 years, and
   47         WHEREAS, Ricardo Medrano-Arzate’s and Eva Chavez-Medrano’s
   48  dreams for their daughter Hilda Medrano were destroyed by the
   49  reckless actions of Deputy Gracie, and
   50         WHEREAS, after a 4-day trial, a jury awarded Ricardo
   51  Medrano-Arzate and Eva Chavez-Medrano, as personal
   52  representatives of their daughter Hilda Medrano, $5 million in
   53  damages after finding that Deputy Gracie was 88.5 percent liable
   54  for the collision, and that decision was affirmed by the Fourth
   55  District Court of Appeal, and
   56         WHEREAS, in accordance with the statutory limits of
   57  liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, the
   58  Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office settled the claims of the
   59  other two victims but has not paid any money toward the damages
   60  awarded to Ricardo Medrano-Arzate and Eva Chavez-Medrano, as
   61  personal representatives of Hilda Medrano, NOW, THEREFORE,
   63  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   65         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   66  found and declared to be true.
   67         Section 2. The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office is
   68  authorized and directed to appropriate from funds not otherwise
   69  encumbered and to draw a warrant in the sum of $5 million
   70  payable to Ricardo Medrano-Arzate and Eva Chavez-Medrano for
   71  damages awarded in connection with the death of their daughter,
   72  Hilda Medrano.
   73         Section 3. The amount paid by the Okeechobee County
   74  Sheriff’s Office and awarded under this act is intended to
   75  provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims
   76  arising out of the factual situation described in this act which
   77  resulted in the award of damages to Ricardo Medrano-Arzate and
   78  Eva Chavez-Medrano, as personal representatives of Hilda
   79  Medrano. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to
   80  this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under
   81  this act.
   82         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.