The number of lawsuits for wrongful arrest and excessive force by the NYPD has been rising steadily since 2001, soaring to 1,800 suits filed last year, up from 1,600 in 2008. Taxpayers paid out $61 million to settle lawsuits last year, up from $59 million in 2008. The city's spent $305 million total over the past decade to settle these cases out of court, and as the Daily News reports, that number doesn't even include settlements the city makes before an actual lawsuit is filed.
Law Department spokeswoman Connie Pankratz says there isn't "one overriding factor" for the rise in lawsuits, telling the News, "There are many factors that influence litigation trends—including increased litigiousness and a greater tendency to bring lawsuits during a recession." Federal suits against the city account for more than half the $305 million, with the biggest chunk of settlement cash paid out in the Bronx: $58 million in the last 10 years.
Lawyers believe the city is quick to settle in the Bronx rather than face a Bronx jury. The attorney who won a $6 million settlement last year for police-shooting victim Wilson Ramos says, "They're aware that the potential for a large verdict is much greater than if it was in a more conservative area." In a separate article, the News rounds up the top ten biggest settlements for wrongful prosecution, false arrest and excessive force over the past decade. Your tax dollars at work!