Fourteen years after Eric Brody was brain damaged and disabled by a speeding Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy, he will finally be compensated.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the "Relief of Eric Brody" claims bill Thursday, approving a $10.75 million settlement for Brody's care, living expenses and vocational training. With his signature, Scott ended a legal battle of more than a decade between Brody's family and BSO's former insurer.
"Today is a day for gratitude — appreciation to all those involved, and especially to our friends, family and supporters, some whom we have never even met," father Chuck Brody said in a statement. "This success brings closure for our family and, finally, justice for our son, Eric."
Brody, then a senior at Piper High School in Sunrise, was three months away from graduation when he was hit by speeding BSO deputy Christopher Thieman in March 1998. The family found out about the crash when a friend at Broward General called, saying someone with the last name “Brody” had been airlifted to the hospital.
"The Broward Sheriff's Office never even contacted us," Chuck Brody told Broward Palm Beach New Times. "I finally had to go down to the Sunrise police station and ask for the accident report myself. But they had no record of it. BSO had taken all the files."
Though a Broward jury decided Brody should receive $30 million, sovereign immunity shielded BSO from having to pay more than $200,000 in any claim. The Florida legislature skirted the restriction with the bill, which was one of 9 such claims of government wrongdoing Scott signed, approving almost $40 million in settlements, according to the Miami Herald.
Four years before striking Brody, the family's lawyer said, Deputy Thieman injured another motorist driving his patrol car more than 20 mph over the speed limit but was never ticketed.
And though an alarming three-part investigation by the Sun-Sentinel in February found that speeding Florida officers have caused more than 320 crashes and 19 deaths since 2004 -- with only one officer going to jail, for just 60 days -- Scott warned in an accompanying letter against awards in excess of insurance policies.
"When insurance proceeds are at issue, I will continue to closely scrutinize awards in excess of the underlying insurance policy," he wrote, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "Such scrutiny is essential to maintaining the proper balance between sovereign immunity, the risks of escalating insurance costs incurred by state and local governments, and the need to fully compensate victims."
WATCH: A discussion of the Eric Brody Relief Bill: