Florida Senate - 2020                               (NP)    SB 4
       By Senator Flores
       39-00166-20                                              20204__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Dontrell Stephens through
    3         Evett L. Simmons, as guardian of his property, by the
    4         Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; providing for an
    5         appropriation to compensate him for personal injuries
    6         and damages sustained as the result of the negligence
    7         of a deputy of the office; providing a limitation on
    8         the payment of compensation, fees, and costs;
    9         providing an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, on September 13, 2013, Dontrell Stephens, then age
   12  20, was shot four times by Palm Beach County Deputy Sheriff
   13  Adams Lin during an encounter in West Palm Beach, and
   14         WHEREAS, the last of the bullets fired at Mr. Stephens
   15  entered his back, severing his spinal cord and rendering him
   16  permanently paraplegic, and
   17         WHEREAS, during testimony at trial, Deputy Lin stated that
   18  he mistook a cell phone, which was clearly visible throughout
   19  the encounter with Mr. Stephens, for a handgun, and such
   20  testimony was found to be not credible and was unanimously
   21  rejected by the jury, and
   22         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephens’ testimony, corroborated by video
   23  from Deputy Lin’s dashboard camera and physical evidence at the
   24  scene, establishes that the only offense committed by Mr.
   25  Stephens was a noncriminal bicycle infraction, that he was
   26  unarmed, and that he posed no reasonable threat to Deputy Lin,
   27  and
   28         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephens, through no fault of his own, and
   29  based solely on the wrongful conduct of an agent of the Palm
   30  Beach County Sheriff’s Office, suffered permanent and
   31  catastrophic injuries that will force him to use a wheelchair
   32  for the remainder of his life, and
   33         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephens currently resides in a homeless
   34  shelter and relies exclusively on public assistance and hospital
   35  emergency room services to meet his extensive health care needs,
   36  and
   37         WHEREAS, Mr. Stephens will require a lifetime of medical,
   38  therapeutic, rehabilitative, and nursing care, and his future
   39  life expectancy exceeds 50 years, and
   40         WHEREAS, following a trial that lasted from January 25,
   41  2016, until February 4, 2016, the jury in the case, brought on
   42  behalf of Mr. Stephens against Ric Bradshaw in his capacity as
   43  Sheriff of Palm Beach County, awarded Mr. Stephens compensatory
   44  damages resulting in the entry of a final judgment in the amount
   45  of $22,431,892.05, plus postjudgment interest and costs, and
   46         WHEREAS, in an opinion rendered on January 10, 2018, with
   47  rehearing en banc denied on September 10, 2018, the United
   48  States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the
   49  factual findings and the judgment of the trial court in the
   50  case, and
   51         WHEREAS, in the 5 years since being paralyzed, Mr. Stephens
   52  has incurred more than $1.4 million in unpaid expenses for his
   53  care and treatment, and
   54         WHEREAS, the costs incurred in the prosecution of the
   55  claims on behalf of Mr. Stephens exceed $260,000, with $60,000
   56  remaining to be paid, and
   57         WHEREAS, in accordance with the statutory limits of
   58  liability set forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, Ric
   59  Bradshaw, in his capacity as Sheriff of Palm Beach County, has
   60  paid $200,000 toward the total amount of this claim, NOW,
   63  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   65         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
   66  found and declared to be true.
   67         Section 2. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is
   68  authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the Palm
   69  Beach County Sheriff’s Office not otherwise encumbered and to
   70  draw a warrant in the sum of $22,431,892.05 plus post-judgment
   71  interest as ordered in the final judgment, along with remaining
   72  costs in the amount of $60,000, payable to Evett L. Simmons, as
   73  guardian of the property of Dontrell Stephens, as compensation
   74  for injuries and damages sustained.
   75         Section 3. The amount paid by the Palm Beach County
   76  Sheriff’s Office pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and
   77  the amount awarded under this act are intended to provide the
   78  sole compensation for all present and future claims arising out
   79  of the factual situation described in this act which resulted in
   80  injuries suffered by Dontrell Stephens. The total amount paid
   81  for attorney fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25
   82  percent of the amount awarded under this act.
   83         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.