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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida lawmakers could be on the verge of approving a plan to pay $3.75 million in a case that rocked the state’s child-welfare system in 2011.

On Thursday the House Judiciary Committee backed a bill that calls for paying the money as part of a settlement in the death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and in the injuries suffered by her twin brother, Victor. The full Senate also was scheduled later Thursday to take up its version of the bill.

Nubia Barahona’s decomposing body was found in February 2011 in the bed of her father’s pickup truck on I-95 in Palm Beach County. Victor Barahona was convulsing in the truck, as both children had been doused with toxic chemicals, authorities said.

The Department of Children and Families was alleged to have failed to prevent abuse of the children and agreed to a settlement that called for paying $5 million. It paid $1.25 million but needs legislative approval of “claim” bill to pay the remaining $3.75 million.

“Ultimately, DCF dropped the ball quite a few times,” House bill sponsor Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, told the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Diaz said the House bill lined up Thursday with the Senate version when the Judiciary Committee approved an amendment to split the $3.75 million into two payments. Committee member Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, said Diaz has repeatedly sought to pass such a bill in recent years.

“Hopefully this will be the year we get it across the finish line,” Harrison said.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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