The New York Post is reporting this week on an analysis of New York City comptroller records, which tell of $6 billion that the city managed to pay out in judgments and settlements between 2000 and 2010, or $600 million per year. Last year, the figure was $520.6 million. Most of the money from last year's cases went to suits against the NYPD, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and the Department of Transportation.
99% of tort cases were personal-injury claims. The largest payout was a $33 million class-action brought by city inmates, who alleged to have been illegally frisked. Many other payouts were low -- in the hundreds of dollars.
Within five years, claims against the NYPD rose by 43%, against the Department of Sanitation by 200%, and against the Department of Transportation by 100%.
The city has already budgeted $655 million for next year's budget, or $135 million more than this year. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) have spoken out against what they consider to be a too-quick-to-settle city judicial system. They believe this to be an incentive for frivolous lawsuits. On the other hand, settlements often drain the public coffers less than cases that go through the full legal grind. City Comptroller John Liu claims that settlements saved the city $18 million last year. Additionally, according to the city Law Department, spending on lawsuits last year experienced a decrease of 12% since 2001.
COMMENTARY The title of the article is a bit deceiving. It would make you think that NYC is paying tons of money for a handlful of personal injury cases. In fact, these cases represent lawsuits over a ten year period. The report is sensationalistic and does little to explore or explain why these cases needed to be settled and why the large settlements or verdicts were so large.
The article does little to expose the carelessness and negligence that occurred leading to the injured victims bringing suit. Instead, it just seeks to lump together all payments in total to give the appearance that the City of New York is paying out lots of money. A better type of reporting would have been to profile each injured victim to determine whether they truly received full compensation from the City. That would have been a more revealing article dealing with people injured at the hands of someone else.
If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions, I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.
Gerry practices law exclusively in the State of New York. Within New York he practices primarily in the following counties: New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk. Technically, Brooklyn is known as "Kings County," and Manhattan and New York City are known as "New York County." Staten Island is known as "Richmond County." These counties make up the New York metropolitan area.