Florida Senate - 2018 (NP) SB 20 By Senator Braynon 35-00101-18 201820__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Maury Hernandez; providing an 3 appropriation to compensate him for injuries and 4 damages sustained as a result of the alleged 5 negligence of the Department of Corrections; providing 6 legislative intent for the waiver of certain liens; 7 providing a limitation on the payment of attorney 8 fees; providing an effective date. 9 10 WHEREAS, on August 6, 2007, at approximately 11:45 a.m., 11 Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Deputy Maury Hernandez, 12 then 28 years of age, was operating a BSO-assigned vehicle, and 13 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez observed David Maldonado, who was 14 operating a motorcycle, run through three traffic lights on 15 Pembroke Road in Pembroke Park, and 16 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez followed Mr. Maldonado to a 17 location in the 3700 block of Pembroke Road and, displaying his 18 badge, approached Mr. Maldonado and identified himself as a 19 deputy sheriff, and 20 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado told Deputy Hernandez that he was a 21 police officer from Opa-Locka, but then pushed Deputy Hernandez, 22 jumped from his motorcycle, and ran, at which time Deputy 23 Hernandez gave chase on foot, and 24 WHEREAS, within seconds, Mr. Maldonado turned around and 25 fired two shots from a .45 caliber handgun, striking Deputy 26 Hernandez in the head with one of the bullets, and 27 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez was rushed to Memorial Regional 28 Hospital in Hollywood in critical condition, and 29 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado was subsequently apprehended by 30 Hollywood police in a nearby condominium complex after he 31 attempted a carjacking, and 32 WHEREAS, the BSO conducted an investigation that concluded 33 that Mr. Maldonado should have been in jail at the time of the 34 shooting because he was serving 2 years’ probation and had 35 repeatedly violated the terms of his probation, but the 36 Department of Corrections had failed to bring the violations to 37 the attention of the State Attorney’s Office and the presiding 38 circuit judge, and 39 WHEREAS, the investigation found that on April 18, 2007, 40 Mr. Maldonado, a habitual traffic offender, pled no contest to 41 felony driving charges and was placed on probation for 24 42 months, and 43 WHEREAS, at that time, Mr. Maldonado had nearly 40 traffic 44 and administrative violations, including reckless driving, 45 speeding, and repeatedly driving without a license, and 46 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado was advised in writing of the 47 department’s zero-tolerance policy, which stated, “The 48 Department of Corrections has a zero tolerance policy as to 49 reporting violations of supervision conditions. This is 50 notification to you that you are subject to violations 51 proceeding, including arrest, if you are not in compliance with 52 all conditions of supervision as required by the sentencing 53 court or releasing authority,” and 54 WHEREAS, under s. 948.03(1)(m)1., Florida Statutes, Mr. 55 Maldonado was prohibited from possessing, carrying, or owning 56 any firearm unless authorized by the court, and under s. 57 948.03(1)(n), Florida Statutes, he was banned from using 58 intoxicants to excess or possessing any drugs or narcotics 59 unless prescribed by a physician, and 60 WHEREAS, the department had a nondiscretionary duty to 61 report Mr. Maldonado’s violations of these laws to the assistant 62 state attorney and presiding circuit judge without delay, and 63 WHEREAS, Mr. Maldonado’s probation strictly prohibited him 64 from carrying a weapon without a court order, from using alcohol 65 in excess and prescription drugs that he had not been 66 prescribed, and required him to complete and submit honest 67 monthly reports to his probation officer, all of which he 68 violated over the course of the 4 months before he shot Deputy 69 Hernandez, and 70 WHEREAS, the BSO investigation found that despite Mr. 71 Maldonado’s admissions to carrying a weapon, his deceit 72 concerning the place of his employment, his false claim that he 73 was a United States Marine, his lies that he had a concealed 74 weapons permit and he needed his gun to be a security officer 75 and for his military service, and his confession to using 76 alcohol and nonprescribed drugs, the department unreasonably 77 failed to verify any of his statements regarding his employment, 78 military service, or otherwise act on any of Mr. Maldonado’s 79 probation violations, and 80 WHEREAS, the department knew or should have known that Mr. 81 Maldonado lied about his place of employment, his military 82 service, and the reasons he stated for possessing a firearm, and 83 WHEREAS, the department was on notice that Mr. Maldonado 84 had used alcohol and nonprescribed drugs, but it did not act on 85 his self-confessed probation violations, and 86 WHEREAS, the department had a nondiscretionary duty to 87 enforce its zero-tolerance policy and report Mr. Maldonado’s 88 probation violations to the assistant state attorney and the 89 presiding circuit judge without delay, and 90 WHEREAS, although the department admitted that Mr. 91 Maldonado had violated the terms of his probation before he shot 92 Deputy Hernandez, it has never explained why it did not enforce 93 its own zero-tolerance policy as to Mr. Maldonado, and 94 WHEREAS, after the shooting incident, the state attorney’s 95 office announced that Mr. Maldonado’s probation violations 96 should have been reported to the assistant state attorney and 97 the presiding circuit judge assigned to the case, and that, if 98 the violations had been reported, Mr. Maldonado would have been 99 jailed without bond and would not have been on the streets at 100 the time he shot Deputy Hernandez, and 101 WHEREAS, the shooting of Deputy Hernandez by Mr. Maldonado 102 was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the department’s 103 failure to enforce the conditions of Mr. Maldonado’s probation, 104 comply with the laws of Florida, and follow its own policies and 105 procedures, and 106 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez survived the shooting, was in a 107 coma and on life support for 3 weeks, underwent multiple 108 surgeries, and remained hospitalized for almost 3 months before 109 being discharged to the care of a rehabilitation hospital, and 110 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez was confined to a wheelchair and 111 underwent physical, occupational, speech, visual, and cognitive 112 therapies all day each weekday for a year, and 113 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez continued to receive physical and 114 occupational therapies and other medical care on a daily basis 115 until 3 years ago, when his insurance provider discontinued 116 payments to his health care providers, and 117 WHEREAS, as a result of the shooting, Deputy Hernandez 118 suffers from permanent brain injury and resulting hemiparesis to 119 the entire left side of his body, motor and sensory nerve 120 damage, spasticity, numbness, severe muscle weakness, impaired 121 abilities in walking and balance, hydrocephalous that is treated 122 with a permanent ventriculoperitoneal shunt, cognitive deficits, 123 and fragments of the bullet that are permanently lodged in his 124 brain, and 125 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has continued, on his own, to 126 engage in physical and occupational therapies to improve his 127 hemiparesis, but still requires medical care and professional 128 therapy treatments to maintain maximum medical stability, and 129 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has regularly received painful 130 Botox injections and other medications to improve muscle tone 131 and reduce spasticity, and 132 WHEREAS, at the time of his injury, Deputy Hernandez was 133 earning an annual salary of approximately $60,000, plus generous 134 benefits, including health insurance and retirement, and 135 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez’s injuries have catastrophically 136 changed his life and impaired his ability to earn a living, and 137 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez attempted to return to work at 138 the BSO, but was unable to perform to minimum standards, and 139 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has suffered significant economic 140 damages, including lost income and the capacity to earn income 141 and job-related benefits, including health insurance and 142 retirement benefits, and 143 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has received workers’ 144 compensation benefits that have partially covered his loss of 145 income and medical care costs, but liens have been filed against 146 him amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and 147 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez is 37 years old and has a life 148 expectancy of 42.6 years according to the Centers for Disease 149 Control and Prevention’s United States Life Tables, 2008, and 150 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez has suffered devastating and 151 permanent injuries and damages, including pain and suffering; 152 total disability; physical and mental impairment; disfigurement; 153 mental anguish; inconvenience; loss of enjoyment of life; 154 hospital and medical care expenses; the loss of earnings and 155 earning capacity; the loss of benefits, including health 156 insurance and retirement income benefits; liens; and other 157 economic and noneconomic losses, and 158 WHEREAS, a lawsuit filed on behalf of Deputy Hernandez in 159 the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County which sought 160 relief under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, was dismissed by the 161 trial court based on the department’s argument that, despite its 162 failure to follow Florida law, its own policies and procedures, 163 and the terms of Mr. Maldonado’s probation, the department owed 164 no duty of care to Deputy Hernandez, and 165 WHEREAS, appeals of the court’s ruling would be fruitless 166 and would only cause further delay in bringing financial relief 167 to Deputy Hernandez, and 168 WHEREAS, despite the court’s ruling that he is legally 169 remediless to seek damages, Deputy Hernandez respectfully 170 requests that the Legislature find that a moral obligation 171 exists in this particular instance based on the Legislature’s 172 view of justice and fair treatment, and 173 WHEREAS, Deputy Hernandez respectfully requests that, as a 174 matter of grace, the Legislature exercise its lawful powers to 175 appropriate a sum of monetary compensation that fully recognizes 176 the magnitude of his injuries, disabilities, and economic 177 damages, and 178 WHEREAS, given the facts and circumstances that resulted in 179 his injuries and damages, Hernandez seeks equitable relief from 180 the Legislature, NOW, THEREFORE, 181 182 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 183 184 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 185 found and declared to be true. 186 Section 2. There is appropriated from the General Revenue 187 Fund to the Department of Corrections the sum of $10 million for 188 the relief of Maury Hernandez for injuries and damages 189 sustained. 190 Section 3. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 191 a warrant in the sum of $10 million payable to Maury Hernandez 192 upon funds in the State Treasury to the credit of the Department 193 of Corrections, and the Chief Financial Officer is directed to 194 pay the same out of such funds in the State Treasury not 195 otherwise appropriated. 196 Section 4. It is the intent of the Legislature that all 197 lien interests held by the state, if any, arising from the 198 treatment and care of Maury Hernandez for the occurrences 199 described in this act are waived. 200 Section 5. The amount awarded under this act is intended to 201 provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims 202 arising out of the factual situation described in the preamble 203 to this act. The total amount paid for attorney fees relating to 204 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 205 this act. 206 Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.