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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate approves claim for paralyzed Broward man

State senators on Thursday evening signed off on a $12 million claim against the Broward Sheriff's Office in the case of Eric Brody, a 31-year-old man paralyzed 13 years ago when a BSO cruiser crashed into his car.

In 1998, a jury awarded Brody more than $30 million. For years, his family has tried to collect that money, which requires a special act by state lawmakers. Earlier this session, a Senate panel agreed to let the Brodys sue BSO's insurance company for $23 million. A House panel passed a similar plan, but for $7.5 million.

The full Senate made another change, putting the claim at $12 million -- but allowing Brody to collect the money directly from BSO and its insurance company, rather than having to go through another lawsuit.

"All eyes are on the House," said Charles Brody, Eric's father. The family sat in the Senate gallery when SB 42 was heard, and received a round of applause from the floor after the measure passed, 29-3.

Later, the Senate also signed off on a claim for the family of Kevin Colindres, an autistic teenager who died after Miami police placed restraints on his ankles. The claims bill, originally for $2.5 million, was reduced to $550,000 and is still pending in the House.

UPDATE: Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Wellington Republican who sponsored the Brody bill in the Senate, said she is "incredibly hopeful" that the House will take up the measure by the end of session Friday. Benacquisto met the Brody for the first time a couple of months ago. "For me, the issue is just incredibly simple and clear," she said.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:11pm]


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