Switch to ADA Accessible Theme Close Menu
Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
$1,748,000

Auto accident, multi-car crash

$1,035,000

Auto accident involving defective airbag

$600,000

Death resulting from hospital turning away patient

$550,000

Auto accident involving tractor trailer

$345,000

Auto accident involving a work vehicle

$340,000

Slip and fall at a hotel bathroom

Call, Text, or Chat: 1-888-LPENDAS
(573-6327)
Free Initial Consultation
protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms

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

Lawsuit3

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.

Resources:

mypalmbeachpost.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/parents-student-killed-conniston-1997-finally-win-claims-bill/TSO8tCKpHUI7UgLpBg0X9M/

flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/leg-claim-manual.pdf

Read What Others Have To Say About Us

  • “I can’t express how much I appreciate this law firm. I had the honor to deal with attorney Daniel. He kept me updated on my case. I couldn’t ask for a better law firm. Daniel fought for me til the end and got me what I deserved. Thanks Daniel and your team for always being there to answer any of my questions. If I ever need a law firm again...”

    Terry Mcphillips
  • “Speedy & superb handling of clients & cases, kind & caring. Highly recommended professionals. They made everything very easy for us, were outgoing & polite. I would call them again if ever in need, rather than call the larger firms that need to advertise & brag about winnings…Pendas was a pleasant & more personal approach instead of...”

    Joseph Kestell
  • “Wow I called Pendas Law Firm the other day at their main intake line it was around 11 o’clock at night and I’ve got this wonderful representative his name was Jeffrey Alvarez. This guy was very professional and his compassion was out of this world I don’t know what I would do if I could not have got a hold of him...”

    Luis Sanchez
  • “Thank you for helping us in our time of need. This firm handled my father’s workers comp case, and helped us with every question we had, and we had a plenty. Thankful for the entire legal team!”

    Enilno Resu
  • “I just concluded a case with attorney Michael Sanchez and paralegal Camilo Lopez. I can only say they are exceptional. The customer service is unique, they have been battling alongside me since day 1. They are not only courteous and professional, but they also are amazing at their job. Thanks to them I got a great deal. I am glad I decided to use their services...”

    Israel Garcia
  • “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. Already recommended them to others in the same circumstances, their staff speaks Spanish and you feel like in family.”

    Ian Brito
  • “Very Professional law firm. They explained to you every detail what to do according to the laws (worker’s compensation). Mr. Danilo Cruz is the best Lawyer and his team. They are very kind, friendly, responsible, I love this firm. They fight for their clients. AwesomeTeam!”

    Lau Rod