Taxpayers Pick Up NYC’s $6B Lawsuits Bill

New York City doled out an astounding $6 billion in judgments and settlements in 10 years, some for bizarre claims of injury resulting from biting in a kindergarten classroom, tripping in a Lincoln Center parking lot, and slipping on bus steps, according to the New York Post.

Last year alone, the city shelled out $520.6 million in claims, according to a Post analysis of city comptroller records. Personal-injury claims accounted for 99 percent of the payouts for tort cases.

The mayor’s 2012 budget allocates even more for city settlements: $655 million.

Lawrence McQuillinan of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy told the Post that state laws are too lenient on tort cases, making New York a “magnet by personal-injury lawyers to submit suits, and that includes New York City.”

The city’s Law Department has pressured Albany to tighten its tort rules, but in the meantime, the state continues to hear “frivolous malpractice cases,” said McQuillinan.

Some of the cases from 2000 to 2010 highlighted by the Post include:

  • A Rikers Island inmate who got $25,000 when he slipped on the rain-soaked steps of a bus while disembarking at the jail facility. He claimed he suffered “severe injuries of a permanently disabling nature.”
  • A Queens man who got $40,000 after being arrested when he tried to break into his home when he was locked out.
  • A Long Island woman who scored $9,000 after she tripped on a bump in the Lincoln Center parking lot and became, she claimed, “sick, sore, lame and disabled.”
  • A Manhattan lawyer got $852.45 for his X-ray bill when he took a tumble on a bike path. His wrist wasn’t broken, it turned out.
  • A Brooklyn mother got $100 for the co-pays she shelled out at the emergency room when her kindergarten-age son was bitten by his classmate on two separate occasions.

“People are lawsuit-happy,” McQuillinan told the Post. “We all pay for this, whether we realize it or not.”

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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