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. 33 34 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 35 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. 135 (6) THE FLORIDA COMPENSATION TRUST FUND FOR SURVIVORS OF 136 HUMAN TRAFFICKING.— 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.