Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer, asked a judge Tuesday to prevent lawyers from taking a bigger cut of the $8.5-million awarded to a victim of medical mistakes.
Sink took the action on behalf of Palm Bay resident Minouche Noel, who was paralyzed after receiving treatment at a state-run clinic when she was an infant in 1989. A jury awarded her the $8.5-million.
Noel and her Haitian immigrant parents then waited seven years for the Legislature to finally pass a bill ordering payment from the state.
But the money is now at the center of a dispute between lawmakers and Noel's attorney, Sheldon Schlesinger, who wants more money in fees and expenses than lawmakers stipulated in the bill they passed in May.
Schlesinger has asked a state court to rule that he is entitled to up to $677,000 more than the $1-million authorized by lawmakers. The longtime personal injury lawyer said he had a pre-existing contract with the Noel family that entitled him to 25 percent of the total amount of the claims bill.
Schlesinger has placed a lien on the money, which prevents the Noels from getting it, at least for now.
A hearing on Schlesinger's lien is scheduled for Monday before Broward Circuit Judge Leroy Moe in Fort Lauderdale.