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CFO Sink Issues $6.5 Million Check to Minouche Noel

8/22/2007

CONTACT: Brannon Jordan or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

Continues fight to protect additional $2 million appropriated by the Legislature
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced her office will issue a $6.5 million check today to Minouche Noel, appropriated by the Florida Legislature during the 2007 Legislative Session, while vowing to continue to fight to protect the additional $2 million the Legislature appropriated to Minouche’s parents.
 
At six months of age, Minouche was left paralyzed after a medical malpractice incident at a public medical facility in 1989. Ten years later, a jury awarded her $8.5 million for injuries and damages, but under Florida law, any court judgment exceeding $200,000 in a negligent claims case against the government can be paid only by an act of the Legislature. The Legislature awarded Minouche Noel and her family the money this year.
 
“I am pleased to be able to announce that my office is issuing a check today to this young woman, who has been fighting for compensation for nearly twenty years,” said CFO Sink who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “She needs this money to help her as she begins her life as a young adult, and we will continue to fight hard to make sure she and her family get all of the money the Legislature awarded them.”
 
CFO Sink is withholding the $2 million in response to motions by Minouche’s former attorney to reopen her case and to file a lien against this amount.  CFO Sink filed an amicus curiae motion, Latin for “friend of the court” brief, with the Broward County Circuit Court in support of Minouche Noel and her family, and the money being paid out today will be deposited into a special needs trust fund for Minouche.  
 
During the 2007 Legislative Session, the Legislature passed a claims bill to compensate Minouche and her family for their losses, $6.5 million in a special needs trust fund for Minouche and $2 million for her parents.  The Legislature specifically limited the payment of attorneys’ fees to $1,074,667 and lobbyists’ fees to $85,000.  Recently, however, the Noels’ former attorney has taken legal action in an effort to increase the compensation from the $2 million for Minouche’s parents. 
 
Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio sent CFO Sink a letter of legislative intent asking her to take legal action to protect the interests of the Noels. 
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.