Florida Senate - 2018                       (NP)    CS for SB 18
       By the Committee on Appropriations; and Senator Braynon
       576-03831-18                                            201818c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of C.M.H.; providing an
    3         appropriation to compensate C.M.H. for injuries and
    4         damages sustained as a result of the negligence of the
    5         Department of Children and Families, formerly known as
    6         the Department of Children and Family Services;
    7         requiring certain funds to be placed into an
    8         irrevocable trust; providing a limitation on attorney
    9         fees; providing an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, beginning at a very young age, J.W. was subjected
   12  to incidents of physical and sexual abuse, which caused him to
   13  become sexually aggressive, and
   14         WHEREAS, on September 5, 2002, J.W., then in the custody of
   15  the Department of Children and Families (DCF), formerly known as
   16  the Department of Children and Family Services, was placed into
   17  the home of C.M.H., whose parents volunteered to have J.W. live
   18  in their home, and
   19         WHEREAS, before the placement of J.W. with the family, DCF
   20  obtained a comprehensive behavioral health assessment that
   21  stated that J.W. was sexually aggressive and that recommended
   22  specific precautions and training for potential foster parents,
   23  which C.M.H.’s parents did not receive, and
   24         WHEREAS, the testimony of the DCF caseworker confirmed that
   25  DCF was aware that then-10-year-old J.W. and then-8-year-old
   26  C.M.H. were sharing a bedroom, and
   27         WHEREAS, on October 31, 2002, J.W. sexually assaulted a 4
   28  year-old child who was visiting C.M.H.’s home, and
   29         WHEREAS, although DCF knew that J.W. was sexually
   30  aggressive, the agency did not remove him from the home, and
   31         WHEREAS, after November 2002, J.W.’s behavioral problems
   32  escalated, and he deliberately squeezed C.M.H.’s pet mouse to
   33  death in front of C.M.H. and made physical threats toward
   34  C.M.H., and
   35         WHEREAS, C.M.H.’s parents began to discuss adopting J.W.,
   36  whom they considered a part of their family, and
   37         WHEREAS, in January 2004, the family began taking
   38  therapeutic parenting classes to better meet J.W.’s needs, and
   39         WHEREAS, in March 2004, after C.M.H.’s mother was diagnosed
   40  with stage 4 terminal metastatic colon cancer, which had spread
   41  to her liver, C.M.H.’s father requested that DCF stop the
   42  process of having the family designated as “long-term
   43  nonrelative caregivers,” and
   44         WHEREAS, in April 2004, DCF closed out J.W.’s dependency
   45  file, leaving J.W. in the custody of the family, and
   46         WHEREAS, in April 2005, C.M.H.’s father wrote DCF and the
   47  juvenile judge assigned to the case to request help in placing
   48  J.W. in a residential treatment facility, and
   49         WHEREAS, on July 28, 2005, after a physical altercation
   50  between J.W. and C.M.H., C.M.H. disclosed to his parents that
   51  J.W. had sexually assaulted him, and J.W. was immediately
   52  removed from the home, and
   53         WHEREAS, C.M.H. sustained severe and permanent psychiatric
   54  injuries, including posttraumatic stress disorder, as a result
   55  of the sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated by J.W., and
   56         WHEREAS, the sexual assault of C.M.H. by J.W. was
   57  predictable and preventable, and
   58         WHEREAS, on April 14, 2006, a lawsuit, Case No. 2006 CA
   59  003727, was filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit in and for Palm
   60  Beach County on behalf of C.M.H., by and through his parents,
   61  alleging negligence on the part of DCF and its providers, which
   62  allowed the perpetration of sexual abuse against and the
   63  victimization of C.M.H. by J.W., and
   64         WHEREAS, a mutually agreeable settlement could not be
   65  reached, and a jury trial was held in Palm Beach County, and
   66         WHEREAS, on January 2, 2014, after a jury trial and
   67  verdict, the court entered a judgment against DCF for
   68  $5,176,543.08, including costs, and
   69         WHEREAS, the Division of Risk Management of the Department
   70  of Financial Services paid the family of C.M.H. $100,000, the
   71  statutory limit at that time under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes,
   72  and
   73         WHEREAS, C.M.H., now a young adult, is at a vulnerable
   74  stage in his life and urgently needs to recover the balance of
   75  the judgment awarded him so that his psychiatric injuries may be
   76  addressed and he may lead a normal life, and
   77         WHEREAS, the balance of the judgment is to be paid into an
   78  irrevocable trust through the passage of this claim bill in the
   79  amount of $2,639,043, NOW, THEREFORE,
   81  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   83         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   84  found and declared to be true.
   85  Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund
   86  to the Department of Children and Families the sum of $2,639,043
   87  for the relief of C.M.H. for the personal injuries and damages
   88  he sustained. After payment of attorney fees and costs, lobbying
   89  fees, and other similar expenses relating to this claim, the
   90  remaining funds shall be placed into an irrevocable trust
   91  created for C.M.H. for his exclusive use and benefit.
   92         Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
   93  a warrant in favor of C.M.H. in the sum of $2,639,043 upon funds
   94  of the Department of Children and Families in the State
   95  Treasury, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the
   96  same out of such funds in the State Treasury not otherwise
   97  appropriated.
   98         Section 4. The amount paid by the Department of Children
   99  and Families pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the
  100  amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the sole
  101  compensation for all present and future claims arising out of
  102  the factual situation described in the preamble to this act
  103  which resulted in the personal injuries and damages to C.M.H.
  104  The total amount of attorney fees relating to this claim may not
  105  exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act.
  106         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.