Florida Senate - 2023 (NP) SB 20 By Senator Wright 14-00097-23 202320__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Maury Hernandez; providing an 3 appropriation to compensate Maury Hernandez, a former 4 Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy, for injuries 5 and damages sustained as a consequence of the alleged 6 negligence of the Department of Corrections in the 7 course of his employment; providing legislative intent 8 that certain liens be waived; providing a limitation 9 on the payment of compensation and attorney fees; 10 providing an effective date. 11 12 WHEREAS, on August 6, 2007, Broward County Sheriff’s Office 13 Deputy Maury Hernandez, then 28 years old, was operating a 14 vehicle assigned to him by the office within the office’s 15 jurisdiction, and 16 WHEREAS, at approximately 11:45 a.m., Deputy Hernandez 17 observed David Maldonado as the operator of a motorcycle that 18 failed to stop at three traffic signals on Pembroke Road, and 19 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez followed Mr. Maldonado to a 20 location within the 3700 block of Pembroke Road, where he 21 approached Mr. Maldonado, still on the motorcycle, identified 22 himself as a deputy sheriff, and displayed his badge, and 23 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado, after falsely identifying himself 24 as a police officer from Opa-locka, suddenly pushed Deputy 25 Hernandez, jumped from his motorcycle, and fled the scene on 26 foot, at which time Deputy Hernandez gave chase, also on foot, 27 and 28 WHEREAS, within seconds, Mr. Maldonado turned and fired two 29 rounds from a .45 caliber handgun, hitting Deputy Hernandez in 30 the head with one of those rounds, and 31 WHEREAS, critically wounded, Deputy Hernandez was rushed to 32 Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where he remained in a 33 coma and on life support for 3 weeks, underwent multiple 34 surgeries, and remained hospitalized for nearly 3 months before 35 being discharged to the care of a rehabilitation hospital, and 36 WHEREAS, after his discharge, Deputy Hernandez was confined 37 to a wheelchair, underwent daylong physical, occupational, 38 speech, visual, and cognitive therapy each weekday for a year, 39 and received regular painful Botox injections and other 40 medication to improve his muscle tone and reduce spasticity, and 41 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez continued to receive physical and 42 occupational therapies and other medical care on a daily basis 43 for more than 3 additional years until his insurance provider 44 discontinued payments to his health care providers, and 45 WHEREAS, after the shooting, Mr. Maldonado was apprehended 46 by Hollywood police in a nearby condominium complex where he 47 attempted a carjacking, and 48 WHEREAS, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, commonly 49 referred to as the BSO, began a full investigation into the 50 circumstances surrounding the shooting, later concluding that, 51 had the Department of Corrections, hereinafter referred to as 52 “the department,” brought repeated violations of his probation 53 to the attention of the state attorney’s office and the 54 presiding circuit judge, Mr. Maldonado would have been in jail 55 at the time of the shooting, and 56 WHEREAS, the investigation found that on April 18, 2007, 57 Mr. Maldonado, a habitual traffic offender, pled no contest to 58 felony traffic charges and was placed on probation for 24 59 months, and 60 WHEREAS, at the time of his placement on probation, Mr. 61 Maldonado had accrued nearly 40 traffic and administrative 62 violations, including reckless driving, speeding, and driving 63 without a license, and 64 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado was advised in writing of the 65 department’s zero-tolerance policy for the reporting of 66 violations of supervision conditions, which stated, “The 67 Department of Corrections has a zero-tolerance policy as to 68 reporting violations of supervision conditions. This is 69 notification to you that you are subject to proceedings, 70 including arrest, if you are not in compliance with all 71 conditions of supervision as required by the sentencing court or 72 releasing authority,” and 73 WHEREAS, s. 948.03, Florida Statutes, then prohibited 74 probationers from possessing, carrying, or owning any firearm 75 unless authorized by the court and consented to by the probation 76 officer, and 77 WHEREAS, s. 948.03, Florida Statutes, then prohibited 78 probationers from using intoxicants to excess or possessing any 79 drugs or narcotics unless prescribed by a physician, and 80 WHEREAS, further, the terms of Mr. Maldonado’s probation 81 specifically prohibited him from carrying a weapon absent a 82 court order allowing him to do so and from using alcohol in 83 excess and nonprescribed drugs, and required that he submit 84 complete and honest monthly reports to his probation officer, 85 and 86 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado failed to comply with any of these 87 terms of his probation, which was known or should have been 88 known to his probation officer, an employee of the department, 89 and 90 WHEREAS, in fact, Mr. Maldonado admitted to his probation 91 officer that he possessed a firearm, which Mr. Maldonado 92 attempted to justify by falsely claiming that he was employed as 93 a security officer and serving in the military, and 94 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado admitted to using alcohol and 95 nonprescribed drugs, and 96 WHEREAS, the BSO investigation found that the department 97 unreasonably failed to verify any of Mr. Maldonado’s statements 98 regarding his employment and military service or to otherwise 99 act on any of his probation violations, and 100 WHEREAS, the department knew or reasonably should have 101 known that Mr. Maldonado lied about his place of employment, his 102 military service, and the reasons he stated for possessing a 103 firearm, and 104 WHEREAS, the department failed to act on Mr. Maldonado’s 105 admitted use of alcohol and nonprescribed drugs or to note his 106 false statements to his probation officer, and 107 WHEREAS, by virtue of its own zero-tolerance policy, the 108 department had a nondiscretionary duty to timely report Mr. 109 Maldonado’s violations of these laws and the terms of his 110 probation to the state attorney’s office and the presiding 111 circuit judge, and 112 WHEREAS, to this day, the department has never explained 113 why its zero-tolerance policy on reporting violations of 114 supervision conditions was not enforced with regard to Mr. 115 Maldonado, and the state attorney’s office has stated publicly 116 that his violations should have been reported to the office and 117 the presiding circuit judge, and 118 WHEREAS, the State Attorney’s office maintains that if Mr. 119 Maldonado’s violations had been so reported, he would have been 120 jailed without bail and not on the streets at the time that he 121 shot Deputy Hernandez, and 122 WHEREAS, as a result of the shooting, Deputy Hernandez 123 suffers from permanent brain injury and resulting hemiparesis to 124 the entire left side of his body, motor and sensory nerve 125 damage, spasticity, numbness and severe muscle weakness, 126 impaired walking and balance abilities, hydrocephalus that is 127 treated with a permanent ventriculoperitoneal shunt, and 128 cognitive deficits, and fragments of the bullet are permanently 129 lodged in his brain, and 130 WHEREAS, without professional assistance, Deputy Hernandez 131 continues to engage in physical and occupational therapy to 132 improve his hemiparesis, but continues to require medical care 133 and professional therapy treatments to maintain maximum medical 134 stability, and 135 WHEREAS, at the time of his injury Deputy Hernandez was 136 earning a salary of approximately $60,000 annually and generous 137 benefits, including medical and retirement benefits, and 138 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez attempted to return to work at 139 the BSO but was unable to perform to minimum standards, and 140 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez’s injuries have catastrophically 141 changed his life, and he is unable to earn a living, and 142 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has suffered significant economic 143 damages, including lost income and the capacity to earn income 144 and related benefits, including medical insurance and retirement 145 benefits, and 146 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez received worker compensation 147 benefits that have covered a portion of his lost income and 148 medical care costs, but liens have been filed amounting to 149 hundreds of thousands of dollars, and 150 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez is now 43 years old and has a 151 life expectancy of 42.6 years according to the United States 152 Life Tables, 2008, of the United States Centers for Disease 153 Control and Prevention, and 154 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has suffered devastating and 155 permanent injuries and damages, including pain and suffering, 156 total disability, physical and mental impairment, disfigurement, 157 mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, 158 hospital and medical care expenses, loss of earnings and earning 159 capacity, loss of benefits, including medical and retirement 160 income benefits, financial ruin, and other economic and 161 noneconomic losses, and 162 WHEREAS, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Deputy Hernandez 163 in the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County which 164 sought relief under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, but it was 165 dismissed by the trial court, which held that, despite the 166 department’s failure to follow its own policies and procedures 167 and state law, the department owed no duty of care to Deputy 168 Hernandez, and 169 WHEREAS, appeals of the court’s ruling would be fruitless 170 and only cause further delay in addressing the wrongs that have 171 been inflicted on Deputy Hernandez, and 172 WHEREAS, despite the ruling by the court that he is without 173 legal remedy to seek damages, Deputy Hernandez respectfully 174 requests that the Legislature find that, based on its commitment 175 to justice being served, a moral obligation exists in this 176 unique and tragic set of circumstances to provide relief, and 177 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez respectfully requests that, as a 178 matter of grace, the Legislature exercise its authority to 179 appropriate funds to compensate him for his injuries, 180 disabilities, and economic damages, and 181 WHEREAS, given the facts and circumstances that resulted in 182 his injuries and damages, Deputy Hernandez seeks equitable 183 relief from the Legislature, NOW, THEREFORE, 184 185 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 186 187 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 188 found and declared to be true. 189 Section 2. The sum of $10 million is appropriated from the 190 General Revenue Fund to the Department of Corrections for the 191 relief of Maury Hernandez for injuries and damages sustained. 192 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 193 a warrant in favor of Maury Hernandez in the amount of $10 194 million upon funds of the Department of Corrections in the State 195 Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the 196 same out of such funds in the State Treasury. 197 Section 4. It is the intent of the Legislature that any 198 lien interests held by the state arising from the treatment and 199 care of Maury Hernandez for the occurrences described in this 200 act be waived. 201 Section 5. The amount awarded under this act is intended to 202 provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims 203 arising out of the factual situation described in the preamble 204 to this act. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to 205 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 206 this act. 207 Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.