Florida has spent nearly $200 million over the past 10 years to quietly settle lawsuits for everything from employment discrimination to sexual harassment to state employees turning a blind eye to child abuse.
The biggest payouts have come on behalf of Florida's child-welfare agency, the Department of Children & Families, to compensate children who have been beaten, abused and sexually assaulted while in state custody. While one of the largest payouts involves a Gainesville woman now serving 60 years in prison for child abuse, a review of records shows that DCF has agreed to $73 million worth of settlements in the last 10 years.
These settlements have come outside of the claims bill process or specific appropriations set aside by the Florida Legislature.While top lawmakers get official notice of large settlements, it appears that legislators have not noticed the overall amount of settlements that have been agreed to.
Recent settlements include $1.3 million to resolve a lawsuit involving the Department of Corrections, $300,000 to the parents of a boy who disappeared while in state custody, and $1.2 million to five children who were adopted by a foster parent who sexually assaulted them. More here.