Florida Senate - 2015 (NP) SB 24 By Senator Soto 14-00024-15 201524__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of J.D.S.; providing an 3 appropriation from the General Revenue Fund to 4 compensate J.D.S. for injuries and damages sustained 5 as a result of negligence by the Agency for Persons 6 with Disabilities, as successor agency of the 7 Department of Children and Family Services; providing 8 a limitation on the payment of fees and costs; 9 providing an effective date. 10 11 WHEREAS, in December 2002, J.D.S., a 22-year-old 12 developmentally disabled woman with autism, cerebral palsy, and 13 mental retardation, was living at the Strong Group Home, which 14 was owned and operated by Hester Strong and licensed and 15 supervised by the Department of Children and Family Services, 16 and 17 WHEREAS, in December 2002, J.D.S. was raped and impregnated 18 by Philip Strong, husband of the owner and operator of the 19 Strong Group Home, and 20 WHEREAS, on April 24, 2003, J.D.S.’s pregnancy was 21 discovered by her physician, and on August 30, 2003, J.D.S. gave 22 birth to a baby girl, known as G.V.S., who was immediately taken 23 from J.D.S. and placed for adoption, and 24 WHEREAS, as a result of her rape and impregnation, J.D.S. 25 sustained mental anguish and a further diminution in the quality 26 of her life, and 27 WHEREAS, J.D.S. filed a claim in Orange County Circuit 28 Court alleging that the department negligently supervised the 29 Strong Group Home and that the Strong Group Home was negligently 30 operated, thereby allowing Philip Strong to rape J.D.S., which 31 resulted in her impregnation, and 32 WHEREAS, J.D.S.’s claims against the department, the Strong 33 Group Home, and other parties were based upon negligence, 34 violations of chapter 393, Florida Statutes, and violations of 35 the Bill of Rights of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, 36 s. 393.13, Florida Statutes, and 37 WHEREAS, as a client of the department, as defined in s. 38 393.063, Florida Statutes, J.D.S. had a right under s. 393.13, 39 Florida Statutes, to “dignity, privacy, and humane care, 40 including the right to be free from sexual abuse, neglect, and 41 exploitation,” and 42 WHEREAS, J.D.S. alleged that the department had a 43 nondelegable duty to protect J.D.S. from foreseeable harm, 44 including sexual abuse, and 45 WHEREAS, J.D.S. alleged that the department was liable for 46 direct negligence relating to its oversight of the Strong Group 47 Home and that it was vicariously liable for the negligence of 48 the Strong Group Home under the doctrine of respondeat superior 49 pursuant to s. 768.28(9)(a), Florida Statutes, and 50 WHEREAS, before the jury trial commenced on February 6, 51 2012, the parties agreed to settle the case titled Patti R. 52 Jarrell, as plenary guardian of J.D.S., an incapacitated person, 53 Plaintiff, v. State of Florida, Agency for Persons With 54 Disabilities, as successor agency of the Department of Children 55 and Family Services, for the sum of $1.15 million, and 56 WHEREAS, under the terms of the settlement agreement 57 consented to by the parties, the Agency for Persons with 58 Disabilities agreed to pay $200,000 to J.D.S., with the 59 remaining $950,000 to be paid pursuant to a stipulated claim 60 bill, and 61 WHEREAS, the agency has agreed to request an appropriation 62 from the Legislature in the amount of $950,000 in its 2015-2016 63 fiscal year budget, and 64 WHEREAS, the $950,000 stipulated settlement is sought 65 through the submission of a claim bill to the Legislature, NOW, 66 THEREFORE, 67 68 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 69 70 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 71 found and declared to be true. 72 Section 2. The sum of $950,000 is appropriated from the 73 General Revenue Fund to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities 74 for the relief of J.D.S. as compensation for the injuries and 75 damages she sustained. 76 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer shall draw a warrant 77 upon funds of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in the 78 sum of $950,000 and shall pay such amount out of funds in the 79 State Treasury to the AGED Pooled Special Needs Trust, which 80 shall be managed and administered by AGED, Inc., a nonprofit 81 trust company, on behalf of J.D.S. 82 Section 4. The amount paid by the Agency for Persons with 83 Disabilities pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the 84 amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole 85 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 86 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 87 the injuries and damages to J.D.S. The total amount paid for 88 attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses 89 relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount 90 awarded under this act. 91 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.