Florida Senate - 2019 SB 1680 By Senator Book 32-00709C-19 20191680__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 3 School Victim Family Compensation Fund Program; 4 creating s. 1010.882, F.S.; creating the Marjory 5 Stoneman Douglas High School Victim Family 6 Compensation Fund Program within the Department of 7 Education; defining terms; providing legislative 8 intent; requiring the department to accept and process 9 applications for certain payments; providing 10 requirements for such applications; requiring the 11 department to verify specified information before 12 approving an application; prohibiting the department 13 from paying an applicant until specified requirements 14 are satisfied; providing for disbursal of funds; 15 authorizing the department to adopt rules; providing 16 construction; providing a contingent effective date. 17 18 WHEREAS, on February 14, 2018, a mass shooting occurred in 19 the 1200 Building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 20 killing 17 people and injuring 17 others, and 21 WHEREAS, multiple failures at various levels of government 22 and private sector services tragically culminated in this mass 23 shooting and contributed to its magnitude, and 24 WHEREAS, these failures were both personal and systemic and 25 included deficiencies in the development and implementation of 26 strategies and concepts required in this modern age to provide a 27 safe and secure learning and working environment for the 28 students and staff of public schools across Florida, and 29 WHEREAS, among other things, the shooting was caused by 30 failures in mental and behavioral health services; on-campus 31 security measures such as identification, ingress and egress, 32 security personnel, communication, and surveillance systems; 911 33 and radio communication systems; training and equipping of law 34 enforcement for active assailant scenarios; command and control 35 strategies for active assailant scenarios; and information 36 sharing between law enforcement agencies, and 37 WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges that accountability 38 for the failures that caused the massacre of February 14, 2018, 39 is required to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the 40 future, and that a necessary component of such accountability is 41 compensation for the victims of this tragedy and their families, 42 and 43 WHEREAS, the victims of the shooting who were killed or 44 injured may assert or have already asserted claims against the 45 State of Florida, its agencies or subdivisions for damages 46 arising out of the shooting, and 47 WHEREAS, the Legislature recognizes that the victims or the 48 survivors of those killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 49 School shooting would be required to litigate such claims and 50 obtain a judgment or settlement before any entitlement to 51 recovery, and 52 WHEREAS, such claims would be subject to the limitations of 53 section 768.28, Florida Statutes, including the limitation 54 restricting liability for payment of claims or judgments, when 55 totaled together, to $300,000 per occurrence or incidence, and 56 subjecting claims or judgments above that amount to the approval 57 of the Legislature, and 58 WHEREAS, the Legislature is vested with the sole 59 constitutional authority to approve claims that exceed the 60 statutory waiver limits of sovereign immunity in section 768.28, 61 Florida Statutes, and the sole constitutional authority to 62 approve payment of claims, and 63 WHEREAS, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide an 64 alternative to litigation and the claim bill process which would 65 provide reasonable compensation for the victims killed or 66 injured in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, as 67 well as their survivors and family members, in exchange for a 68 voluntary release of this state, its agencies, and subdivisions, 69 as to claims arising out of the February 14, 2018, mass shooting 70 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, NOW, THEREFORE, 71 72 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 73 74 Section 1. Section 1010.882, Florida Statutes, is created 75 to read: 76 1010.882 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Victim Family 77 Compensation Fund Program.— 78 (1) There is created within the department the Marjory 79 Stoneman Douglas High School Victim Family Compensation Fund 80 Program for the family members of victims of the shooting at 81 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. 82 (2) As used in this section, the term: 83 (a) “Claim” means all the causes of action that have been 84 or may be asserted by a victim and any claim of wrongful death, 85 loss of consortium, or any other claim for damages by a family 86 member of a victim arising out of the victim’s death or injury. 87 (b) “Department” means the Florida Department of Education. 88 (c) “Event” means the mass shooting that occurred at 89 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. 90 (d) “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School” means the high 91 school located at 5901 Pine Island Road in the City of Parkland 92 located in Broward County. 93 (e) “Victim” means any individual who was killed during or 94 as a direct result of the event. 95 (3) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide a 96 streamlined process for the presentation of and payment of each 97 claim when the claimant agrees to forgo litigation and the claim 98 bill process and to release the state and its political 99 subdivisions from any and all claims arising out of the event. 100 (4) The department shall accept and process applications 101 for payment of claims pursuant to this section. 102 (5) Applications must be on forms approved by the 103 department and must include all of the following: 104 (a) The name of the victim. 105 (b) The names of all family members who have or may have 106 claims for wrongful death, loss of consortium, or any other 107 claim for damages arising out of the victim’s death or injury. 108 (c) A statement agreeing to forgo litigation or dismiss 109 pending litigation, to agree not to seek a claim bill from the 110 Legislature, and to execute the release described in subsection 111 (7) in exchange for payment of the claim as set forth in 112 subsection (8). 113 (d) The signature of all family members described in 114 paragraph (b), or for such persons who are younger than 18 years 115 of age, the signature of their parents or guardians. 116 (6) Before approving any application for payment, the 117 department shall verify all of the following: 118 (a) The identity of the victim. 119 (b) The victim’s entitlement to recovery under subsection 120 (8). 121 (c) The identity of each of the family members described in 122 paragraph (5)(b), and that all persons have been disclosed who 123 have or may have claims for damages arising out of the victim’s 124 death or injury. 125 (7) The department may not pay an applicant until the 126 person who may assert a claim on behalf of a victim and all 127 persons who may assert a claim arising out of the death of a 128 victim under this section, have signed an unqualified release of 129 all claims for the damages, costs, and expenses, including 130 attorney fees of any type, or relief of any other kind, 131 resulting from the event. The release must be on a form approved 132 by the department. 133 (8) Funds from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 134 Victim Trust Fund pursuant to s. 1010.88 shall be disbursed in 135 accordance with this section. Any such funds must be disbursed 136 evenly among the family members of the victim. 137 (9) The department may adopt rules to administer this 138 section. 139 (10) Payments made under this section are not subject to s. 140 744.387. 141 (11) This section provides the exclusive means of 142 compensation for families who opt to receive payments as 143 authorized pursuant to this section. No compensation under this 144 section is authorized for families who refuse to accept or fail 145 to comply with the terms of this section. 146 (12) Nothing in this section shall be deemed an admission 147 of fact or an admission of liability on the part of the state or 148 its political subdivisions. 149 (13) Notwithstanding the relief provided above the limits 150 of sovereign immunity provided in s. 768.28, the state and its 151 political subdivisions may not be deemed to have waived any 152 defense of sovereign immunity or to have increased the limits of 153 its liability as a result of passage of this act. 154 Section 2. This act shall take effect on the same date that 155 SB ___ or similar legislation takes effect, if such legislation 156 is adopted in the same legislative session or an extension 157 thereof and becomes a law.