FAMU Claims Sovereign Immunity in Lawsuit Against Parents of Dead Son

May 23, 2012

In the latest case of an institution claiming "Soveriegn Immunity" the parents of a college age boy are suing FAMU - Florida A and M University in a Wrongful Death lawsuit. The university is claiming "Sovereign Immunity". Why? Because they can.  The young man was killed by a hazing incident through the famous FAMU Marching Band, (now on hiatus) and the parents are rightfully suing the school. The death must have been caused by a "negligent" behavior or accident. So that will have to be proven, because if its caused by a willful, intentional or criminal act, they cannot claim "Sovereign Immunity."


Did you know that the State of Florida can now be liable for up to $200,000 per person and up $300,000 per claim for governmental negligence?




In 1975, the cap for damages was made by the Florida Legislature, to limit the amounts to  $100,000 per person and $200,000 for governmental negligence.




These caps apply to lawsuits against the state, schools, police departments, counties, and many other offices and agencies under state jurisdiction.


Dating back to Medieval times, it was held that "the King can do no wrong."  As a matter of common law,
it meant that no government could be


sued by one of its citizens, no matter how gross the negligence on the part of the governmental agency or one of its employees.




While the increase is welcome news to victims of governmental negligence, the new cap is woefully in adequate in terms of compensation to a victim for personal injury, wrongful death or a police brutality claim.


As an example, just last week, a middle school child
was killed in a school bus accident caused by the carelessness of the school bus driver.
As a result of that tragic event, the parents will be


limited to $300,000 for its claim against the School District for the loss of their little boy.




The problem with such a low and arbitrary cap is not only that the victims of governmental negligence are unfairly compensated for their losses, it also makes the individual government agency less responsible for their actions. Finally, it may result in the agency addressing dangerous conditions.




Lawsuits, after all, are not only meant to compensate victims for their loss, but to also correct negligent conditions. Additionally they reduce the chances of others being victimized in the future.


The fact of the matter is,  once adjusted for inflation, the cap would have to be at nearly $500,000 to equate to the $100,000 cap originally established in 1975.
The slight increase in Florida's tort cap is welcome.
But it's certainly not fair or adequate in 2012!