In one of its first official actions of the 2012 Session, the Florida Senate passed through a bill that would award Eric Brody--who was permanently injured in 1998 by a speeding Broward County Sheriff's deputy--$10.75 million.
The claims bill, which passed in the Senate last year but died on the cutting floor of the House, has come up for a vote for the past four years.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, had announced passing the claims bill as one of the first orders of business for the 2012 Session.
A late amendment to the bill, SB 4, reduced the amount of the award from $15.6 million to $10.75 million.
Brody, at the time a college-bound senior in high school, was on the way home from his part-time job at the time of the accident. The deputy, Christopher Thieman, was on his way to a mandatory roll call at the Sheriff’s district station in Weston. He was driving as fast as 70 miles per hour when he hit Brody’s car. The speed limit was 45 miles per hour.
Brody suffered severe brain injury and remained in an induced coma for about six months. He now gets around in a wheelchair and has several mobility and speech disabilities.
A Broward jury awarded Brady’s family $30.9 million in costs and damages in 2005, finding that Deputy Thieman was negligent.
Brody's family posted a Youtube video thanking lawmakers for passing the bill, which stil must pass the House to become law.
See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lYeSV574qA&feature=youtu.be.
House Speaker, Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said earlier in the day that the budget was the top-bill issue for the House, and that policy issues would come second. Claims bills, he said, were "tertiary." Last year, the Brody claims bill died in the Senate as time ran out.
The $10.75 million deal will be covered by the insurance company, shielding Broward County Sheriff's Office, and by extension taxpayers, from bearing costs.
" We've been in negotiations for weeks," with the insurance company and the BCSO said Lance Block, attorney for the Brody family. "The number we agreed to is in the mid-range of the insurance company's last offer and the original bill in the Senate."
In related news, the Senate also awarded $1.35 million to William Dillon, who spent 27 years in prison for a Brevard County murder he did not commit.