TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Three claim bills filed for the 2022 legislative session hope to provide monetary relief to Tampa Bay families whose loved ones were injured or harmed by employees of the state of Florida and its municipal governments. For the families, it’s up to Florida’s legislature to vote ‘yes’ and approve the settlements decided by the state court system.
8 On Your Side has already covered the stories of a Tampa man who was wrongfully incarcerated for 37 years for a rape and murder he did not commit and a Lakeland man permanently disabled when a police officer shot him through the neck.
According to claim bill SB 56, the third Tampa Bay settlement waiting for lawmakers to approve the relief is centered on the story of Danielle Maudsley of Seminole, 20-years-old at the time, who was put in a vegetative state by a Florida Highway Patrol officer after a traffic stop, and died two years later.
On Sept. 19, 2011, Maudsley was arrested for what the claim bill describes as nonviolent traffic infractions. She was taken to the Pinellas Park Florida Highway Patrol substation for processing, and while handcuffed, tried to flee the substation through a side door.
The claim bill describes the following events as what led to Maudlsey’s injuries.
When Maudsley left the substation, Trooper Daniel Cole follower her and fired his electronic control device “directly into Ms. Maudsley’s back, causing her to collapse and fall to the parking lot pavement with great physical force and effect.”
Due to the force of her fall, Maudsley “suffered extensive traumatic brain injury.” According to the claim bill, she remained in a vegetative state until her death on Sept. 15, 2013, just short of two years to the date of her initial arrest.
In May 2015, FHP and Maudsley’s estate reached a settlement agreement for all claims arising out of her death. The claim bill states that “Trooper Cole acknowledged that, if the case had gone to trial” in the Middle District of Florida’s U.S. District Court, a Florida jury “could reasonably have awarded damages in the amount of $1.95 million…”
The settlement agreement between the two parties, Maudsley’s estate and FHP, the Division of Risk Management of the Department of Financial Services was required to pay Maudsley’s estate $200,000 of the nearly $2 million settlement.
Six years later, the Estate of Danielle Maudsley is still awaiting legislative approval to receive the remaining $1.75 million. Should SB 56 pass the legislative vote in the 2022 session, the settlement will be fully paid by the state’s Chief Financial Officer, minus the amounts needed to pay any outstanding liens to Medicaid for Maudsley’s medical care.
The language of the claim bill also says the funds must come out of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in the State Treasury, at least for that portion:
The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw a warrant payable to the Estate of Danielle Maudsley in the sum of $1.75 million, minus amounts required to satisfy outstanding Medicaid liens relating to the medical expenses and care of Danielle Maudsley, upon funds of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in the State Treasury and to pay the same out of such funds.SB 56, Relief for the Estate of Danielle Maudsley by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Should it be approved, the claim bill states that the compensation is intended to be awarded for “all present and future claims arising” from the situation described in the bill that resulted in Danielle Maudsley’s death.