According to an article in the Bloomberg News last week, the City of New York will pay approximately $735 million in 2012 in settlement or jury verdicts as a result of medical malpractice claims, excessive force and false arrest cases against the NYPD, and claims involving collisions with NYC vehicles or due to improperly maintained roadways. This article focuses on the police abuse cases. In my opinion, the tremendous volume of cases against NYC for excessive force and false arrest is not at all surprising, as we have seen an alarming trend of improper police conduct in New York City in recent years. For example, in 2010, the City was forced to settle a class action lawsuit contending that the Department of Corrections illegally strip searched 100,000 inmates upon incarceration for misdemeanors or lesser charges. The City paid a whopping 33 million to resolve this class action litigation.
Further, in 2011, the NYC paid $15 million to resolve a class action lawsuit instituted in 2005 in which 22,000 New York residents were improperly charged with loitering in violation of a regulation which was determined to be unconstitutional thirteen years earlier! There has been an ongoing increase in police abuse cases for several years, with a 46% increase in claim payouts from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, the City of New York paid $136 million in jury verdicts or settlements in false arrest, excessive force or other abuse cases. In 2010, there were 2,657 civil rights claims filed against the NYPD and other City departments.
In other areas of tort litigation, the City of New York has taken proactive measures to improve the safety of the City and its citizens (and to a great extent, protect the City from claims and lawsuits). For example, in 2003, the New York City Administrative Code was amended to include a provision which mandates that adjoining landowners maintain and repair public sidewalks. According to Bloomberg News, this regulation saves the City of New York approximately $40 million annually in trip and fall cases. Similarly with regard to medical malpractice cases, the City created a special legal unit to review practices and analyze procedures. Apparently, this resulted in a 17% reduction in claims costs from 2006 to 2010, with the City paying $134 million in medical malpractice claims against the 11 public hospitals in 2010.
The City contends that in a large majority of cases, their police officers “did the right thing, but from a risk management point of view we want to settle meritorious claims…” Thus, City officials argue that they made a “business decision to settle, rather than run the risk of a much greater tort judgment against us.” However, this defense can hardly explain the conduct of NYPD officers in arresting 10,000 citizens on charges that haven’t been valid for almost 15 years, or strip searching 100,000 people on lowly charges such as disorderly conduct or trespass, which are often not even crimes but rather violations, the equivalent of a traffic infraction. If the City would focus its efforts on enhanced training of its officers and on proper police procedure, undoubtedly the trend of increased brutality and false arrest cases could be reversed.
If you are the victim of police abuse, suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident, are the victim of medical malpractice, or are injured in any way through the negligence of another person, you need legal representation by an experienced and aggressive trial attorney who will demand the maximum compensation for your pain and suffering, medical and hospital expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life, and who will litigate your case to trial if the insurance company and its lawyers refuse to make a fair settlement offer. Contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Lawyers at the White Plains, New York Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail today!