A bill to pay $30.76 million to a Broward man paralyzed after a Broward Sheriff's Office cruiser crashed into his car more than a decade ago is dead for this year after Rep. Rachel Burgin, a Brandon Republican and the bill's House sponsor, postponed the bill indefinitely on Wednesday.
Eric Brody was 18 years old in 1998 when a BSO deputy on his way to work struck his car, leaving Brody paralyzed and brain damaged. A jury awarded Brody $30.76 million in 2005, but sovereign immunity laws require a special act of the Legislature for anyone hurt by a government agency to collect more than $200,000.
A bill to compensate Brody passed the Senate overwhelmingly last week, but the bill has faced a tough road in the House, where it failed to get a vote in its only committee hearing.
If approved, the bill would have been the largest compensation bill to clear the Legislature. And in an effort to win support, the bill included a provision that allows BSO to let the Brodys pursue a bad-faith claim against the law enforcement agency's insurance company in exchange for an agreement not to collect the money from BSO.
Lobbyists for BSO have said the agency would rather reach a separate settlement with the family and have said the provision sets a precedent that would allow other families to collect larger payments from government entities.
The Brodys, who plan to push for the bill again next year, were frustrated by this year's outcome.
"I've learned that the politics take over from the reality," said Eric's father Charles Brody. "What should be and what is logical and what is fair doesn't happen and it turns into a political football game. A political football game with the lobbyists influencing the politicians."