Lawsuits Against New York City Police Increasing – OpEd
By Jim Kouri
Lawsuits filed against the New York Police Department (NYPD) cost the city’s taxpayers a record-high of $185.6 million in the fiscal year 2011 and the latest figures indicate a 35-percent increase over fiscal year 2010, according to New York City Comptroller John Liu in a report released on Friday.
“Settlements [for all departments] have once again topped a half-billion dollars, underscoring a need for better risk management by City agencies to contain costs and save taxpayers’ money,” Comptroller Liu said. “My office continues to work with agencies to lower litigation costs, streamline processes, and learn from recent trends – while also dealing fairly with claimants seeking redress.”
The growing concern is the surge in claims against the New York Police Department, which had the highest claim costs of any agency. In FY 2011, the City settled $185.6 million in claims involving the NYPD, a 35-percent jump from the $137.3 million settled in FY 2010.
“The surge in police-misconduct allegations and civil-rights claims against the NYPD is an alarm bell for the City. The trend can and must be stemmed and reversed with better risk management including training, clearer accountability, and the convening of a multi-disciplinary task force,” Comptroller Liu said.
The top tort claim adjudicated in FY 2011 was $9.9 million, to a claimant who alleged false arrest and incarceration for 19 years as a result of the actions of a former police detective known as one of the notorious “Mafia cops.”
The NYPD also paid out $137.3 million dollars in settling claims in the fiscal year 2010, according to Liu.
Lawsuits and complaints against the NYPD increased to 8,882 cases in 2011 from the previous year’s 8,110, which was the highest number of claims filed against any agency, according to the report.
Thirty percent of total tort claim filings in the 2011 fiscal year went to the NYPD. Claims against the NYPD have increased by 73 percent over the past 11 years, according to the report.
New York City in the last fiscal year paid out $550.35 million in tort claims for personal injuries and property damages, including police misconduct, medical malpractice, falls on public property, up 5 percent from the 522 million dollars spent in the fiscal year 2010.
“Settlements have once again topped a half-billion dollars, underscoring a need for better risk management by City agencies to contain costs and save taxpayers’ money,” Liu said.