Senate president calls Brody bill priorityby Dara Kam | October 18th, 2011
In the final moments of the legislative session in May, House lawmakers failed to sign off on a $12 million payment to Eric Brody, a Broward man catastrophically injured after a Broward Sheriff’s Office cruiser crashed into him 13 years ago.
Again this year, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has made the payment to Brody and his family a priority. The Brody’s joined Haridopolos and bill sponsor Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, at a press conference this morning urging their colleagues to agree to the payment.
Haridopolos said the bill (SB 4) would be among the first items his chamber passes when the session begins in January.
“You can never put a price tag on human tragedy,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said.
Benacquisto’s proposal would allow Brody to get collect $15 million from the BSO and its insurance company. A House proposal, sponsored by Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, would allow Brody to get a payment of $30 million. The state would pay no money for the settlement but state law requires legislative approval before local governments can pay claims to individuals in excess of $200,000. The BSO had agreed to allow the Brody’s to pursue the claim with the insurance company earlier this year.
Grant said he hoped this year the two chambers “will put politics aside” and pass the bill.
The 1998 accident left Eric Brody, then 18 years old, with severe brain damage and requiring 24-hour care. His parents said they want the money to ensure he is taken care of after they die. Chuck Brody said he estimates the cost of care for his son to be in the middle of the two bills.
Despite – or perhaps because of – Haridopolos’ support earlier this year, the Florida House refused to agree to the payment. On the last two days of the session, Brody and his family remained in the Capitol, expecting the measure to be passed. But the prolonged session ended in the early morning hours before the measure was even taken up on the House floor.
With their wheelchair-bound son Eric, the Brody’s waited from noon until 2 a.m. the day before the session ended, Chuck Brody told reporters.
“It wasn’t heard at all. It was like he didn’t exist. It was like the bill didn’t even exist,” Brody said.