Marissa Amora Update
Marissa Amora is one of the most widely-known child abuse cases in Florida.
Her case began in 2001, when her biological mother returned home from work one night and found her badly injured. Marissa's internal organs were damaged and her brain was bleeding. She was rushed to the hospital, where she remained in a coma for weeks.
Marissa was left incapable of walking and brain-damaged from her injuries. The Department of Children and Families knew she was being abused and didn't remove from her mother's home. Marissa's adopted mother sued Florida and won a $26.8 million settlement. Under Jeb Bush, the DCF was going to appeal the case. New DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth decided to pay Marissa. The Florida House and Senate has not fast tracked payment. Things get worse from there.
So, in January, DCF finally stopped challenging the verdict. Last month, in an interview with The Post, Gov. Crist reiterated his commitment to Marissa Amora, noting that "The House and the Senate could waive the rules" to pass a claims bill this year, even though the legislation was not proposed by the usual August deadline. "Maybe making that request" would propel the bill, Gov. Crist said on March 9, adding, "And I'll do it, after consulting with Secretary Butterworth."
DCF has sent a $100,000 check to the Amoras. But the family can't use the money because Medicaid has a lien of nearly $400,000 against Marissa. Two letters to Medicaid have gone unanswered, said Marissa's attorney, Joe Nusbaum. Pleas for aid from the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities went similarly unanswered for five years until the agency in December finally reversed an illogical determination that Marissa - who cannot walk, bathe or feed herself, and can speak only a few words - did not meet the its definition of disabled.
Governor Charlie has promised to ask the state legislature to fast-track payments to Marissa. The question is will he back his words with action.