Florida Senate - 2017                                     SB 972
       By Senator Bracy
       11-00683-17                                            2017972__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to human trafficking; creating s.
    3         787.061, F.S.; providing a short title; providing
    4         Legislative findings and intent; defining terms;
    5         creating a civil cause of action for minors who are
    6         victims of human trafficking; authorizing such minors
    7         to recover actual and punitive damages; authorizing
    8         the seizure and forfeiture of personal and real
    9         property used in human trafficking; providing for
   10         recovery by a prevailing victim or the Florida
   11         Compensation Trust Fund for Survivors of Human
   12         Trafficking of attorney fees, investigative expenses,
   13         court costs, economic and noneconomic damages,
   14         forfeited personal and real property, and other
   15         applicable civil penalties; requiring the court to
   16         impose specified civil penalties in certain
   17         circumstances; making personal or real property of
   18         certain persons subject to civil forfeiture upon
   19         disposition of certain leases, mortgages, or liens;
   20         requiring the Governor to appoint an administrator and
   21         a panel to evaluate and pay claims; requiring the
   22         trust fund administrator to establish guidelines and
   23         prepare and submit to the Governor an implementation
   24         plan; requiring the Executive Office of the Governor
   25         to issue an annual report on the compliance of the
   26         trust fund with its duties; requiring that
   27         applications for compensation be made available in at
   28         least English and Spanish; requiring closed hearings
   29         and the redaction or sealing of personal identifying
   30         information of the victim, upon the victim’s request;
   31         providing that there is no statute of limitation for
   32         bringing an action; providing an effective date.
   34  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   36         Section 1. Section 787.061 Florida Statutes, is created to
   37  read:
   38         787.061 Human trafficking; civil action.—
   39         (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section shall be known and may be
   40  cited as the Civil Action Against Human Trafficking of Minors
   41  and Survivors Compensation Fund Act.
   42         (2) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that in
   43  order to achieve the goals relating to human trafficking
   44  expressed in s. 787.06(1)(d), it is necessary to provide a civil
   45  cause of action for the recovery of compensatory and punitive
   46  damages and for the civil seizure and forfeiture of the personal
   47  and real property used by those who engage in the human
   48  trafficking of minors for sex or labor and those who either
   49  knowingly or through willful blindness receive profit from or
   50  otherwise receive direct or indirect economic benefits from such
   51  trafficking.
   52         (3) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—In order to combat the practice of
   53  human trafficking, it is the intent of the Legislature to create
   54  a civil cause of action for the minors who are victims of human
   55  trafficking and to establish the Florida Compensation Trust Fund
   56  for Survivors of Human Trafficking.
   57         (4) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   58         (a) “Facilitate” or “facilitator” means assisting or
   59  providing services to a human trafficker which assist or enable
   60  a trafficker to carry out human trafficking activities, or one
   61  who provides such assistance or provides such services.
   62         (b) “Human trafficking” has the same meaning as provided in
   63  s. 787.06(2).
   64         (c) “Trafficker” or “human trafficker” means any person who
   65  knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the facts, engages in
   66  human trafficking of a minor, attempts to engage in human
   67  trafficking of a minor, or benefits financially by receiving
   68  anything of value from participation in a venture that has
   69  subjected a minor to human trafficking.
   70         (d)Trust fund” refers the Florida Compensation Trust Fund
   71  for Survivors of Human Trafficking.
   72         (e) “Willful blindness” occurs when a person’s suspicions
   73  are aroused and he or she realizes the probability that his or
   74  her suspicions are well founded, but the person deliberately
   75  refrains from obtaining confirmation of or acting on his or her
   76  suspicions because he or she wants to remain in ignorance, when
   77  knowledge of the suspected activity can be reasonably and fairly
   78  imputed to such person.
   79         (5) CIVIL CAUSE OF ACTION.—
   80         (a) A minor who has been a victim of human trafficking has
   81  a civil cause of action against the trafficker or facilitator of
   82  human trafficking who victimized the minor and may recover
   83  actual and punitive damages for such victimization, and may
   84  seize and have forfeited the personal and real property of such
   85  trafficker or facilitator used in such trafficking.
   86         1. A civil action may be brought by any minor who has been
   87  the victim of human trafficking, by the parent or guardian of
   88  the minor, by a person or entity acting on behalf of the minor
   89  with the consent of the minor or his or her guardian, or by the
   90  personal representative of the estate of a deceased victim who
   91  was a minor.
   92         2. A civil action may be brought by a licensed attorney in
   93  good standing with The Florida Bar, on behalf of and for the
   94  benefit of the Florida Compensation Trust Fund for Survivors of
   95  Human Trafficking.
   96         (b) A civil action may be brought in any court of competent
   97  jurisdiction.
   98         (c) A victim, or the trust fund on the victim’s behalf, who
   99  prevails in any such action by proving his or her case by the
  100  greater weight of the evidence, is entitled to recover
  101  reasonable attorney fees, reasonable investigative expenses,
  102  court costs, economic and noneconomic damages, forfeited
  103  personal and real property, and any other applicable civil
  104  penalties.
  105         (d) The remedies provided in this section are in addition
  106  to and cumulative with other legal and administrative remedies
  107  available to a victim of human trafficking.
  108         (e) If a victim, or the trust fund on the victim’s behalf,
  109  prevails in any action brought under this section, in addition
  110  to the verdict, the court shall impose a civil penalty against
  111  the defendant in the amount of $100,000 in favor of the
  112  prevailing victim or the trust fund.
  113         (f) In addition to a civil penalty imposed under paragraph
  114  (e), if a law enforcement agency rescued the victim or located
  115  the property upon which the abuse or exploitation of one or more
  116  victims occurred, the court shall impose a civil penalty against
  117  the defendant in favor of the law enforcement agency in the
  118  amount of $50,000, which shall be used in support of the law
  119  enforcement agency’s future efforts to combat human trafficking.
  120         (g) The personal or real property of a person who knowingly
  121  or through willful blindness allowed his or her property to be
  122  used to facilitate human trafficking is subject to civil
  123  forfeiture. Subject only to the disposition of valid and lawful
  124  leases or recorded mortgages or liens of innocent third parties
  125  which were in effect before the date of the arrest of a
  126  trafficker or perpetrator and the filing of the civil action,
  127  the forfeited property shall be used or disposed of for the
  128  benefit of the prevailing victim or the trust fund.
  129         (h) The victim, or the trust fund on the victim’s behalf,
  130  is entitled to seize the personal and real property of
  131  traffickers, perpetrators, and facilitators upon proving his or
  132  her case by the greater weight of the evidence without having to
  133  prove an actual amount of money damages of any individual victim
  134  or victims.
  137         (a) The Governor shall appoint the administrator of the
  138  trust fund, created in s. 787.062, and a three-person panel to
  139  fairly evaluate and pay compensation claims based upon the
  140  individual circumstances of each victim and the availability of
  141  current funds or future funds received.
  142         (b) The trust fund administrator shall establish guidelines
  143  and prepare and submit an implementation plan, and any
  144  amendments to the plan, to the Governor.
  145         (c) The Executive Office of the Governor shall prepare and
  146  issue an annual report on the compliance of the trust fund with
  147  its duties.
  148         (d) Applications for compensation must be made available in
  149  at least English and in Spanish.
  150         (7) COURT HEARINGS.—At the victim’s request, court hearings
  151  conducted pursuant to this section must be closed to the public
  152  and any information in the court file and online docket which
  153  identifies a victim of human trafficking must be redacted or
  154  sealed.
  155         (8) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.—There is no statute of
  156  limitations for suits brought pursuant to this section.
  157         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.