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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nine claims bills get Gov's signature. One gets veto pen.



Gov. Rick Scott signed nine claims bills into law Thursday, compensating victims of government wrongdoing nearly $40 million.

One of the most high-profile bills will go to the family of Eric Brody, who was permanently and severely injured 14 years ago when a speeding Broward County Sheriff plowed into his car. The Brody family has been travelling to Tallahassee for four years running trying to collect on a multi-million jury award. The claim signed Thursday is worth about $10.75 million.

Most jury awards against government entities or employees--school bus drivers, hospital workers, police officers, and the like--have to be approved by the Legislature if they are in excess of $200,000.

The process has been described as arbtrary and politically-motivated, with lobbyists and lawyers often heavily involved and handsomely compensated. The 2012 session was a big year for claims bills, with 11 making it to the governor's desk. Still, dozens of claims bills never make it through the politically-thorny claims bill process. Here's our story on the world of claims bills.

Scott vetoed one claims bill. Donald Brown, whose lost a leg when his motorcycle was struck by a Sumter County school bus, was slated to receive $1.4 million after lawmakers approved his claims bill. In a letter, Scott said he was acting on advice that the amount exceeds the "proper amount of compensation" for Brown.

Here is a list of the claims bills that passed this year.

HB 445 - Family of Eric Brody. Severely injured after being struck by speeding Broward County Sheriff’s deputy in 1998. ($10.75 million)

HB 141 - William Dillon, a Brevard County man wrongfully jailed for 27 years. ($1.4 million) (signed in early March)

HB 909 - Family of Juan Carlos Rivera. Stabbed to death at Coral Gables Senior High in 2009. ($1.2 million)

HB 965- Aaron Edwards, who suffered severe brain injury during his birth at Lee Memorial Hospital 14 years ago ($15 million).

HB 877 - Odette Acanda, whose son, Ryan, died in Jackson Memorial Hospital in 2005 due to poor health standards ($800,000)

HB 579 – Family of Ana-Yency Velasquez, who was killed by a speeding Miami-Dade police officer in 2009 ($1 million)

HB 1039 - James D. Feurtado, who was struck and injured by a Miami-Dade bus driver in 2009 ($1.2 million)

HB 457 – Parents of Darian Brown, who suffered severe brain damage at birth as a result of substandard car at Broward General Medical Center ($2 million)

HB 967 – Family of Michael Munson, who died from a heart attack in 2008 after Coral Springs Medical Center staff failed to treat him properly ($2.4 million)

HB 7131 – Family of Rachel Hoffman, who died during a botched 2008 drug sting operation by the Tallahassee Police Department ($2.4 million)


[Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 6:04pm]


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