June 20, 2018
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       Florida Senate - 2010                              (NP)    SB 52
       
       
       
       By Senator Haridopolos
       
       
       
       
       26-00203A-10                                            201052__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of Angela Sozzani; requiring
    3         that the Department of Children and Family Services
    4         request up to a certain amount in its annual
    5         legislative budget request each fiscal year to
    6         compensate Angela Sozzani for injuries and damages she
    7         sustained as a result of the negligence of employees
    8         of the Department of Children and Family Services;
    9         authorizing the department to request additional funds
   10         under extraordinary circumstances; providing for the
   11         reversion of funds; providing that Angela Sozzani’s
   12         attorneys have represented her pro bono and fees and
   13         costs have not been awarded; providing an effective
   14         date.
   15  
   16         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani, whose date of birth is April 21,
   17  2000, was in the legal custody of the Department of Children and
   18  Family Services and had been placed in the medical foster home
   19  of Ronald and Joyce Bryson on February 6, 2001, and
   20         WHEREAS, Ronald Bryson and Joyce Bryson were each licensed
   21  by the Department of Children and Family Services to provide
   22  foster care pursuant to s. 409.175, Florida Statutes, and
   23         WHEREAS, on April 17, 2002, Ronald and Joyce Bryson were
   24  providing foster care to three medically needy foster children
   25  and after-school care to their two special-needs grandchildren,
   26  even though their foster home was licensed by the Department of
   27  Children and Family Services to provide care for only two
   28  children, and
   29         WHEREAS, on April 17, 2002, Ronald and Joyce Bryson were
   30  hosting a party and allowed their two grandchildren to swim in
   31  their swimming pool without adult supervision, and
   32         WHEREAS, on April 17, 2002, Angela Sozzani, who was nearly
   33  2 years of age and was not being supervised, wandered out the
   34  open patio door to the pool and fell into the swimming pool,
   35  nearly drowning, and
   36         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani experienced a severe hypoxic
   37  ischemic encephalopathy, secondary to a near drowning, and, as a
   38  result, is forever dependent on receiving 24-hour medical and
   39  supportive care, and
   40         WHEREAS, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Angela Sozzani in
   41  Pinellas County against the Department of Children and Family
   42  Services, Ronald and Joyce Bryson, Family Continuity Program,
   43  Inc., and Help a Child, Inc., and
   44         WEHREAS, Angela Sozzani’s claim against Ronald and Joyce
   45  Bryson is based on each person’s failure to properly supervise
   46  Angela and their failure to follow rules of the Department of
   47  Children and Family Services, and
   48         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani’s claim against Family Continuity
   49  Program, Inc., which was the lead agency in Pinellas County
   50  pursuant to s. 409.1671, Florida Statutes, during the period
   51  that Angela was placed in the Bryson home, is based on the
   52  entity’s failure to comply with rules of the Department of
   53  Children and Family Services, failure to perform monthly home
   54  visits, failure to ensure Angela’s safety in the Bryson foster
   55  home, and failure to report the licensing violations that were
   56  observed in the Bryson foster home, and
   57         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani’s claim against Help a Child, Inc.,
   58  which was the private entity that contracted with the Department
   59  of Children and Family Services to oversee the operation of the
   60  medical foster care program through which the Brysons were
   61  licensed, is based on the entity’s failure to properly oversee
   62  and manage the Bryson foster home, failure to train Ronald and
   63  Joyce Bryson, failure to comply with rules of the Department of
   64  Children and Family Services, and failure to report the
   65  licensing violations that were observed in the Bryson foster
   66  home, and
   67         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani’s claim against the Department of
   68  Children and Family Services is based on the department’s
   69  failure to follow its own operating procedures and guidelines
   70  with respect to the licensure of the Bryson foster home, which
   71  the department knew or should have known would be a dangerous
   72  environment to all children, including Angela Sozzani, and
   73         WHEREAS, as a disabled person, Angela Sozzani is in need of
   74  funds necessary for her care, and
   75         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani continues to need 24-hour medical
   76  care and treatment as a result of the actions giving rise to
   77  this claim, and
   78         WHEREAS, Robert F. Cullen, Jr., M.D., F.A.A.P., Director
   79  Emeritus of Child Neurology of Miami Children’s Hospital, has
   80  reported that, with optimum medical care, Angela Sozzani’s life
   81  expectancy will be approximately 20 to 30 years, and
   82         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani and Family Continuity Program,
   83  Inc., and Help a Child, Inc., have conditionally reached a
   84  settlement for the limits of each entity’s available insurance,
   85  and
   86         WHEREAS, pursuant to s. 409.175(15), Florida Statutes, any
   87  person who owns and operates a family foster home for the
   88  Department of Children and Family Services, including Ronald and
   89  Joyce Bryson, is provided coverage through the Division of Risk
   90  Management of the Department of Financial Services, as provided
   91  in ss. 284.38 and 284.385, Florida Statutes, and
   92         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani and Ronald and Joyce Bryson have
   93  reached a settlement, and
   94         WHEREAS, the Department of Children and Family Services has
   95  agreed to tender on behalf of Ronald and Joyce Bryson $100,000
   96  pursuant to s. 409.175(15), Florida Statutes, to compensate
   97  Angela Sozzani for damages, and provide a basis for this claim
   98  bill, and
   99         WHEREAS, a special needs trust has been established for the
  100  exclusive benefit and use of Angela Sozzani, and
  101         WHEREAS, the net settlement proceeds from each defendant
  102  will be deposited into the special needs trust, and
  103         WHEREAS, Angela Sozzani is currently eligible for and
  104  receiving Medicaid, which is funding her placement, treatment,
  105  and care costs, and
  106         WHEREAS, if Medicaid does not provide any medically
  107  necessary and appropriate health care services, as determined by
  108  Angela Sozzani’s treatment team, such services will be paid for
  109  using assets from the special needs trust, and
  110         WHEREAS, the Department of Children and Family Services
  111  supports this act to ensure that Angela Sozzani has the funding
  112  and resources necessary to obtain all medically necessary and
  113  appropriate health care for her entire life, and
  114         WHEREAS, because it is unknown how long Angela Sozzani will
  115  actually live and if her medically necessary and appropriate
  116  health care will be provided through Medicaid, the Department of
  117  Children and Family Services has agreed to request in its annual
  118  legislative budget request funds to replenish any funds that are
  119  expended by the special needs trust to provide for Angela’s
  120  placement costs and medical care and treatment which were not
  121  funded by Medicaid, and
  122         WHEREAS, upon the death of Angela Sozzani, any proceeds
  123  remaining in her special needs trust will first be used to
  124  satisfy the Medicaid lien, together with any additional amounts
  125  owed pursuant to the lien, and the remainder will be paid to the
  126  General Revenue Fund, NOW, THEREFORE,
  127  
  128  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  129  
  130         Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are
  131  found and declared to be true.
  132         Section 2. The Department of Children and Family Services
  133  shall include in its annual legislative budget request for each
  134  fiscal year a request for a specific amount to replenish the
  135  special needs trust of Angela Sozzani up to $180,000, to the
  136  extent that any funds in the special needs trust have been
  137  expended for Angela Sozzani’s placement costs and medical care
  138  and treatment. As part of its initial request, the department
  139  shall include all funds expended after the date upon which the
  140  special needs trust was established through the date of the
  141  initial request.
  142         Section 3. The Department of Children and Family Services
  143  may, under extraordinary circumstances, request in its annual
  144  legislative budget request funds in excess of the limit provided
  145  in section 2 of this act to replenish funds in the special needs
  146  trust which were expended for Angela Sozzani’s placement costs
  147  and medical care and treatment.
  148         Section 4. Upon the death of Angela Sozzani, any proceeds
  149  remaining in her special needs trust will first be used to
  150  satisfy the Medicaid lien, together with any additional amounts
  151  owed pursuant to the lien, and the remainder shall revert to the
  152  General Revenue Fund.
  153         Section 5. Attorney’s fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other
  154  similar expenses relating to this claim have not been awarded
  155  since Angela Sozzani’s attorneys have provided pro bono
  156  representation.
  157         Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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