Minouche Noel is a reluctant tourist at the state Capitol. Paralyzed from the waist down since she was an infant, she has come for what her lawyers say is justice owed.
Minouche is the victim of a medical mistake made by doctors in a state-run program, so despite a jury award of $8.5 million, state law says she is entitled to just $200,000, hardly enough, she says, for a life lived in a wheelchair.
Minouche says, "It’s hard, especially being a teenager going to high school. You want to go on field trips and you can’t because they have to be wheelchair accessible."
Minouche came to the state Capitol to plead her case in front of a claims committee of the state House. The hearing itself is rare; claims bills are not smiled on by legislative leaders. Still, committee chairman John Quinones thought this and one other case did deserve a hearing.
Rep. John Quinones, (R) Orlando, says, "Somebody has to make the first move. This is the first move that I believe the House has taken."
The state limited its liability to just $200,000 back in 1968 and hasn’t raised it since. In today’s dollars, that would be worth about $1.1 million.
Friends describe Minouche as having courage.
Minouche says, "This is just an obstacle that I’m going through."
She dreams of being a registered nurse, but she adds going to school and being a nurse would be a lot easier if the state gave her what a jury says she is already owed.