Eric Brody, left brain-damaged in accident, set to get $10.75
January 10, 2012
TALLAHASSEE — After nearly 14 years of fighting, 32-year-old
Eric Brody and his family may finally receive millions of dollars
to compensate him for a 1998 accident that left him brain-damaged
and largely confined to a wheelchair.
Brody's family has reached a settlement with the Broward
Sheriff's Office and its former insurer to pay $10.75 million to
Brody for his life care. However, the Florida Legislature still
must sign off on the deal, and the Senate began that process Tuesday
with a 37-2 vote.
Brody, then a college-bound high-school student, was
injured when a Broward deputy speeding on his way to work rammed
into his car. A jury subsequently said that the Sheriff's Office
should pay Brody $30.7 million.
Florida law, however, protects government agencies
from paying damages in excess of $200,000. To get more than that,
a victim needs the Legislature to pass what's called a claims bill
ordering either the state or the local government to pay up.
In the Brody case, that has resulted in a years-long
battle with lawmakers, some of whom refuse to pass claims bills
on principle. Last year, the Senate passed the bill, but it died
in a late night stand-off with the House, which refused to take
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island,
had vowed to make SB 4 — sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto,
R-Wellington — the first order of business in this year's
Senate, along with a $1.35 million claims bill for a Brevard man
who served 27 years for a murder he did not commit. Both passed
"From the start, this issue, this matter was
about the determination of a mother and a father to take care of
their child," Benacquisto said. Her original bill called for
The settlement, which would be paid by the insurance
company, would cover Brody's medical care, living expenses, vocational
training, and potentially some recreational activities.
Brody, who has attended every committee meeting and
floor vote on his bill over the past few years, was not in Tallahassee
Monday. He is bedridden, recovering from a broken hip.
Both Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and representatives
of Ranger Insurance Co. praised the deal.
"I am glad that rational minds prevailed for
the sake of Eric Brody and his future well-being," Lamberti
The bill's future in the House is still slightly unclear.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, has said
that the issue should be addressed later in the session, after other
work is completed.
Jason Unger, a lawyer for the insurance company, said
that the company is confident that the deal will win final approval
by the House.
"Speaker Cannon has pressed for settlement, and
that has been accomplished," he said.
Sheldon J. Schlesinger, P.A. represents clients throughout
the state of Florida including the cities of Boca Raton, Boynton
Beach, Carol City, Cooper City, Coral Gables, Coral Springs, Davie,
Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, Hollywood,
Jupiter, Lake Worth, Miramar, Miami, Oakland Park, Palm Beach, Palm
Beach Gardens, Palm Springs, Pompano Beach, and Rivera Beach
Broward County • Miami-Dade County • Palm Beach