Switch to ADA Accessible Theme Close Menu


A constant source of help for your family in times of need, we’re available 24/7 in person, by phone and video conference. Call us anytime for an always free consultation.

Free Initial Consultation
protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms

Claim Bill Approved for Parents of Student Killed in School Shooting Two Decades Ago


Fourteen-year-old Jean Pierre Kamel died 21 years ago when a classmate shot him at Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach. His parents filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School Board, alleging that the district’s negligence contributed to their son’s death. The jury awarded them a $1.6 million judgment, but the school board only had to pay $200,000. That’s because of a legal concept called “sovereign immunity” and a damages cap imposed by Florida law.

Suing a Government Actor

Generally, sovereign immunity protects government actors from paying large jury awards.

Sovereign immunity is a legal concept that prevents government actors from being sued without their consent. State law waives this liability in tort actions (i.e., personal injury claims against the government) but imposes a cap on available damages.

However, there is a way that parties injured by the state can seek additional compensation. Kamel’s parents and similarly situated individuals may file a claim bill, which would require the school district or other negligent party to pay more damages.

What Is a Claim Bill?

A claim bill is legislation “that compensates a particular individual or entity for injuries or losses occasioned by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency. It is a means by which an injured party may recover damages even though the public officer or agency involved may be immune from suit. Majority approval in both chambers of the Legislature is required for passage.”

But not everyone who seeks a claim bill succeeds. And even those who do succeed don’t always receive the full amount that they requested. And often it takes years for the legislature to approve the bill. Take Kamel’s parents, for example.

Legislature Approves Claim Bill for Student’s Parents

The state legislature recently approved a claim bill awarding each of Kamel’s parents $180,000 ($360,000 total, which is in addition to the $200,000 they already received).

The parents first sought a claim bill for the entire remainder of the $1.6 million judgment in 2004. But every year that the bill failed that amount became smaller and smaller. While they agreed to accept the $360,000 in 2012, the legislature didn’t OK that award until 2018. In 2013 and 2014 the Senate president refused to consider claim bills at all, and Kamel’s parents didn’t try again until this year.

While the claim bill amount isn’t anywhere close to the original jury award, it at least acknowledges the school district’s negligence in this tragedy. 

Contact Us Today

Contact a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you have been injured in an accident caused by a city official. We will help you recover damages for your injuries and file a claim bill if necessary.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Tampa, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.




Read What Others Have To Say About Us

  • “I'm very happy with this firm... Joel is an excellent attorney and Carolyn is an amazing paralegal, After been ditched from another law firm, Pendas took care of me and they won my case. I recommend them 100%...” - Jacksonville -

    Maria Pastor
  • “This law firm is amazing. I love how they always try to stay/keep in contact with you. It shows that they really care and want everything taken care of correctly, Thank You!...” - Orlando -

    Shantelle Blackwell
  • “I'm very thankful for all the attention of all the Pendas staff that took care of my case and helped me through the process, thanks for your patience, collaboration and comprehension!...” - Tampa -

    Carlos Guadalupe
  • “The Pendas Law Firm was amazing! They are very kind, professional, and hard-working! They always kept me informed. Larry Trias was great to work with! I always recommend Pendas to family and friends. Thank you for helping me with my case!” - Fort Myers -

    Heather Pepper
  • “Their attorneys are absolutely someone you want handling your car accident claim. They communicated with us promptly and thoroughly. I was very happy with our recovery. Their staff speaks Spanish and you feel like family.” - Orlando -

    Ian Brito
  • “I would definitely recommend this firm. The staff really helps you and they actually show you that they care, especially Siomara Roldan. She has been a great help for my family and myself, she is always helpful with any questions.” - Tampa -

    Wilmer D Santana Rodriguez
  • “5 stars for these guys! Hays Mathis got my case settled without going to court for a sum that dwarfed what the other guys were advising me to take. I highly recommend Hays not only because he does the work to get it done but he cares about the client and outcome as well!” - Jacksonville -

    Mike Reilly
  • “Pendas is the best! The paralegals are very attentive to your case, knowledgeable, and communicative! The attorney also won’t just be there the day of your sign up, but all throughout the process as needed. I truly recommend Pendas!” - Orlando -

    Ben Fitzgerald