I. Executive Summary

Under the New York City Charter, the Comptroller has the power to settle and adjust all claims in favor of or against the City.[i]  This work is performed by the Comptroller’s Office Bureau of Law and Adjustment (BLA), composed of attorneys, claims professionals, and administrative staff under the direction of the Comptroller, General Counsel, and the Assistant Comptroller for BLA.

In FY 2016, BLA adjusted or settled 14,643 claims that ultimately resulted in authorizing total City outlays of more than $1 billion.[ii]

For FY 2016, the City paid out $629.5 million in tort claim settlements and judgments—nearly seven percent more than the $588.8 million paid out in FY 2015.[iii]  These tort claims ranged from slip/trip and fall to medical malpractice, police action, and motor vehicle property damage claims.

In FY 2016, the City paid out $380.9 million in non-tort claims, or “law claims,” a three percent increase from the $371.4 million paid out in FY 2015.  These law claims include disputes arising from City contracts, equitable claims, refund claims, City employee salary disputes, claims involving Department of Education special education matters, sidewalk assessments, cleanup costs levied on property owners who are in violation of the Mental Hygiene Law, and affirmative claims brought on behalf of the City.

In FY 2016, the City paid out $40.7 million for legacy claims that occurred before FY 2007, which includes $13.5 million paid out for multiple claims against the NYPD stemming from murders that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, known as the “Mafia Cops” cases.

Finally, this report also includes a look-back to FY 2007 to provide a broader perspective on claim filings and settlements and judgments in order to contextualize the FY 2016 numbers.

II. Overview of the Comptroller’s Initiatives to Manage Risk and Implement Best Practices

ClaimStat Update and Inter-Agency Partnerships

In an effort to drive down the cost of claims, in 2014, during the first year of Comptroller Stringer’s administration, the Comptroller’s Office launched ClaimStat, a data-driven analysis of claims against the City.  ClaimStat was introduced to help agencies reduce claims by providing data that identifies practices that lead to costly settlements and judgments against the City.  Using ClaimStat data, the Comptroller’s Office has released agency-related updates concerning claims, including filing trends and resolved claim payouts.  In addition, the Comptroller’s Office has partnered with several City agencies in order to share relevant claims data to help agencies better manage risk, implement agency best practices, and efficiently allocate City resources.

The Comptroller’s Office initially partnered with the NYPD to exchange real-time data to identify claim trends as early as possible.  The partnership allows the Comptroller’s Office to make an early assessment of the City’s exposure to certain types of claims and enables the NYPD to consider policies that may address or reverse trends that lead to increased exposure for the City.  In 2015, the Comptroller’s Office expanded its partnership program to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).  In 2016, the Comptroller’s Office partnered with the Department of Environmental (DEP) to exchange data for flood claims to be used for a DEP long-term flooding study.  In 2017, the Comptroller’s Office further broadened its partnerships and entered into an operating agreement with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to expand ClaimStat. The current cooperation and sharing of data between the Comptroller’s Office and City agencies is unprecedented, and the Comptroller’s Office is continually working to expand coordinated efforts to mitigate risk and to implement best practices.

Recovery Program Update

The Comptroller’s Office partners with the Human Resources Administration—particularly with the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)—to collect reimbursements for public assistance and Medicaid benefits, as well as child support obligations, from claimants who received settlement payouts from the City.  The Comptroller’s Office and the OCSE successfully automated the process to ensure that outstanding payments are processed and collected properly.  The Comptroller’s Office also works with the New York City Department of Finance to collect on liens, including unpaid parking tickets, against claimants who reach a settlement with the City.  In FY 2016, BLA collected $7.3 million from claimants with outstanding obligations to the City or with child support orders in arrears.

Damage to the City (Pre-Litigation)

The Comptroller’s Office initiates affirmative claims to collect money from individuals who have damaged City property.  Most of these claims involve damage to City-owned motor vehicles and City infrastructure.  BLA’s efforts in asserting these claims on behalf of the City resulted in the collection of $1.7 million in FY 2016.

Son of Sam Law (New York State Executive Law § 632-a)

The New York State Son of Sam Law permits a crime victim to commence a civil action to recover money damages for “profits from a crime” or the “funds of a convicted person.”[iv]  Under the law, the Comptroller’s Office must report to the New York State Office of Victim Services (Victim Services) any City settlement obligation to a convicted person that exceeds $10,000.  BLA automated its process to identify claims that should be reported and works closely with Victim Services and the New York State Attorney General’s Office to help identify funds in excess of $10,000 awarded to convicted persons from whom victims can recover money.  At the close of FY 2016, the City has paid an aggregate $286,000 to crime victims who recovered from claim settlements under the Son of Sam Law.

III. Legacy Claims

Payments for Personal Injury Tort Claims that Occurred Before 2007

New Yorkers continue to pay for claims that were filed more than a decade ago.  In FY 2016, the City paid out $40.7 million for claims that occurred prior to FY 2007, including $13.5 million in payouts stemming from the “Mafia Cops” claims[v] against the NYPD.

 

In FY 2014, the Comptroller’s Office began to analyze the cost of settlements stemming from protracted litigation.  As noted in previous Claims Reports, aggressive litigation is necessary to protect the City fisc from meritless claims.  However, in certain instances, prolonged and drawn out litigation—which after years becomes what we call a “legacy claim”— has not been the most effective use of the City’s resources and has even increased the City’s exposure to unreasonable verdicts and judgments.  In the best interest of the City, the Comptroller’s Office and Office of the Corporation Counsel must remain vigilant in constantly striking the difficult balance of vigorously defending the City and avoiding imprudent or unnecessary litigation.  When appropriate, the Comptroller’s Office will continue to settle meritorious claims in their early stages, driving down future settlement and judgment costs, to the benefit of the City.  Simultaneously, the Comptroller’s Office will continue working with law enforcement to root out fraudulent claims and with Office of the Corporation Counsel to vigorously defend against meritless claims.

IV. Tort Claims

Tort claims consist of personal injury and property damage claims.  While the number of tort claims filed in FY 2016 decreased, the amount paid out on settled tort claims in FY 2016 increased.[vi]  In FY 2016, 26,800 new personal injury and property damage claims were filed—a two percent decrease from the 27,362 tort claims filed in FY 2015.[vii]

In FY 2016, settlement of tort claims cost the City $629.5 million, nearly a seven percent increase from the $588.8 million paid out by the City in FY 2015. Claim settlements and judgments for personal injury and property damage cost each City resident approximately $73.63 in FY 2016.

  • PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

Personal injury claims are the most frequently filed and the most costly to resolve.  Such claims include, but are not limited to, allegations of medical malpractice, civil rights violations, injuries occurring in Department of Education (DOE) schools, motor vehicle accidents involving City-owned vehicles, as well as claims arising from allegedly defective sidewalks, or the actions of police or uniformed services employees.  In FY 2016, personal injury claims accounted for $620.1 million, or 99 percent, of the $629.5 million paid out on settled tort claims.  The average settlements and judgments cost for all personal injury cases in FY 2016 was $84,428, four percent higher than the average of $81,124 in FY 2015.  Out of the 7,345 personal injury settlements, there were 113 personal injury claim payouts for $1 million or more in FY 2016, totaling $283.1 million.  These 113 claims represent 46 percent of the total personal injury claim payouts for FY 2016.

  • PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIMS

Property damage claims consist of damage or loss to personal property as a result of the City’s alleged negligence, including, but not limited to, motor vehicle accidents, roadways, water main breaks, and sewer overflows.  Property damage claims comprised just one percent of the City’s total tort claim payouts in FY 2016.  In FY 2016, 8,161 property damage claims were filed, a six percent decrease from the 8,664 claims filed in FY 2015.  Property damage settlement and judgment payouts decreased by 32 percent in FY 2016 to $9.4 million from $13.8 million in FY 2015.

  • TORT CLAIM TRENDS BY CLAIM TYPE

In FY 2016, the five costliest personal injury claim categories in terms of settlements and judgments paid out were civil rights claims ($158.0 million), medical malpractice claims ($101.1 million), police action claims ($100.6 million), motor vehicle claims ($89.7 million), and sidewalk claims ($31.8 million).  Together, in FY 2016, these resolved claims accounted for 78 percent of all personal injury settlements and judgments paid out.

  • Civil Rights Claims

Civil rights claims typically arise from alleged statutory or constitutional violations such as discrimination based on sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or age.  Claims in this category also include alleged constitutional civil rights violations by law enforcement personnel litigated under 42 U.S.C § 1983 in federal court.

There were 2,272 civil rights claims filed in FY 2016, compared to 2,714 claims filed in FY 2015, a 16 percent drop in claims filed.  However, in FY 2016 the cost of civil rights claims payouts increased to $158.0 million up from $94.3 million in FY 2015, a 67 percent increase.  In FY 2016, 20 of the 113 personal injury tort cases that resolved for $1 million or more were for civil rights claim payouts, totaling $98.9 million.

  • Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice claims are derived from alleged improper diagnosis, treatment, or care and are typically filed against a NYC Health + Hospital (HH) facility.  Settlement of medical malpractice claims accounted for 16 percent of the total $620.1 million paid out for personal injury claims resolved in FY 2016.  The 230 medical malpractice claims resolved in FY 2016 cost the City $101.1 million in settlement and judgment payouts, compared to $144.7 million paid out for 245 medical malpractice claims settled in FY 2015.  In FY 2016, 27 of the 113 personal injury tort claims resolved for $1 million or more were for medical malpractice claim payouts, totaling $55.1 million.

Since medical malpractice claims often take five to ten years to resolve because of their complexity, the number of claims filed is a better indicator of medical malpractice claims activity than the dollar amount paid out in any single year.  In FY 2016, there were 621 medical malpractice claims filed, down one percent from the 627 medical malpractice claims filed in FY 2015.  Medical malpractice claims appear to be stabilizing after reaching a high in FY 2008, however, it is anticipated that the City will continue to pay out costly settlements as a result of the high number of medical malpractice claims filed in years past.

  • Police Action Claims

Police action claims result from claims of improper police conduct, such as alleged false arrest or imprisonment, or excessive force under New York State law litigated in New York State courts.  Police action claims were the most frequently filed personal injury claim and accounted for the third highest claim payout in FY 2016.

There were 4,473 new police action claims filed in FY 2016, down nine percent from FY 2015 when 4,926 police action claims were filed.  The decline in police action claims filed for the second straight year reverses a prior trend of rising police action claims filed that peaked in FY 2014.

In FY 2016, the cost of settled police action claims was $100.6 million compared to $119.5 million in FY 2015, a 16 percent decrease in payouts.

In FY 2016, the Comptroller’s Office settled the wrongful conviction claims of Roger Logan and Shabaka Shakur pre-litigation to avoid lengthy proceedings that are costly for the City, with uncertain risks.  Roger Logan spent more than 16 years in prison.  The late King’s County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson joined Mr. Logan’s motion to vacate the murder conviction, and BLA settled Mr. Logan’s civil claim pre-litigation for $3.8 million.  Shabaka Shakur spent more than 27 years in prison.  The Court vacated his murder conviction, and BLA settled Mr. Shakur’s claim pre-litigation for $3.6 million.

  • Motor Vehicle Claims

Personal injury motor vehicle claims involve alleged accidents with City-owned vehicles.  There were 1,226 new personal injury motor vehicle claims filed in FY 2016, up six percent from FY 2015, when 1,162 claims were filed.  Personal injury motor vehicle claims cost $89.7 million in FY 2016, a 33 percent increase, compared to $67.3 million in FY 2015.  In FY 2016, 26 of the 113 personal injury tort claims resolved for $1 million or more were for motor vehicle claim payouts, totaling $48.4 million.

  • Sidewalk Claims

Sidewalk claims arise from alleged defects, such as cracked or uneven surfaces, on public sidewalks.  This type of claim includes personal injuries for slip/trip and fall accidents resulting from such alleged defects, as well as incidents on snow and ice-covered sidewalks.  Legislation enacted in 2003 has limited the City’s liability for injuries caused by alleged sidewalk defects.  New York City Administrative Code § 7-210 requires prior notice to the City of the defective condition and generally limits the City’s liability to (1) sidewalks adjoining City-owned property, or (2) sidewalks that are in front of owner-occupied residential property having no more than three units.  Sidewalk claims decreased to 2,378 claims in FY 2016 from 2,559 claims in FY 2015.  The total cost of sidewalk claims in FY 2016 was $31.8 million, down from $39.6 million in FY 2015, or a 20 percent decrease.

  • TORT CLAIM TRENDS BY AGENCY

In FY 2016, the five agencies that experienced the highest number of total claims filed were the NYPD (7,562 claims), DOT (5,193 claims), DOC (4,321 claims), DSNY (2,163 claims), and DOE (1,428 claims).  Of these five agencies, two experienced an increase during FY 2016–claims filed against DOC rose 25 percent and DOE had a minimal increase of less than one percent from FY 2015.[viii]

The five agencies with the highest settled tort claim costs in FY 2016 were the NYPD ($279.7 million), HH ($112.2 million), DOT ($67.7 million), DSNY ($40.3 million), and DOE ($33.6 million).

  • New York Police Department

Tort claims against the NYPD include, but are not limited to, allegations of excessive force, civil rights violations, and personal injury or property damage arising out of motor vehicle accidents involving police vehicles.  In FY 2016, the number of claims filed against the NYPD decreased to 7,562 from 8,423 claims filed in FY 2015, which represents a 10 percent decrease.

Claims against the NYPD that settled in FY 2016 cost the City $279.7 million, compared to $225.6 million in FY 2015, a 24 percent increase.  In FY 2016, BLA settled pre-litigation the excessive force and wrongful death claim filed by the Estate of Eric Garner, who died while being arrested on Staten Island, for $5.9 million.  In the past decade, the number of claims filed against the NYPD has increased each year, peaking in FY 2014.  This upward trend in NYPD claims settlement and judgment payouts is expected to continue into the future despite a decrease in the number of claims filed in the last two years, as the final resolution of a claim can take many years.  NYPD claims accounted for 44 percent of the total cost of FY 2016 personal injury and property damage claims settled.

Although the number of claims filed against the NYPD declined in FY 2016, the total NYPD settlement amount of $279.7 million is the highest in City history.  This settlement total is the result of outdated policies, years in the making, and legal actions from more than a decade ago.  Four groups of cases account for a substantial percentage of the $279.7 million figure.  First, the wrongful conviction claims resulting from the 1995 “Soundview Murders”[ix] settled for $40.0 million. (A sixth individual settled his wrongful conviction claim for $4.9 million in FY 2015.) Second, actions filed against the “Mafia Cops,” former NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa, for alleged connections to murders that happened in the 1980s and 1990s, settled for $13.5 million.  (Note, too, that a related case involving these former Detectives settled for $5.0 million in FY 2015; further, Barry Gibbs, convicted of murdering a woman in Brooklyn and incarcerated for 19 years, sued former Detective Eppolito alleging wrongful conviction in a case that settled for $9.9 million in FY 2011.)  Third, the City settled Alan Newton’s wrongful conviction claim[x] for $12.1 million.  Finally, attorneys’ fees related to the “Stop and Frisk” litigation (Floyd v. City of New York) settled for $11.3 million.  These four settlements accounted for $76.7 million, or 27 percent, of the $279.9 million NYPD FY 2016 payouts.

  • NYC Health + Hospitals

Claims against HH encompass claims for personal injuries including alleged medical malpractice, slip/trip and fall accidents on hospital property, and property damage sustained on hospital property.  Unlike all other City agencies, whose tort claim costs are paid out of the Judgments and Claims account established annually in the City’s General Fund, HH assumes financial responsibility for medical malpractice liabilities, up to a “capped limit” set by the Office of Management and Budget.  Because many medical malpractice claims are typically not resolved for five to ten years from the date of filing, the number of claims filed against HH in a given year is a better indicator of current hospital claim trends than the amount paid out in any one year.

In FY 2016, 885 claims were filed against HH; 583 claims, or 66 percent of HH claims, were for medical malpractice.  HH claims constituted four percent of the total number of tort claims resolved in FY 2016, but accounted for the second highest tort expenditure at $112.2 million, or 18 percent, of the total amount paid for tort claims in FY 2016.

Notably, the number of medical malpractice claims filed against HH’s acute care hospitals[xi] increased by 31 claims to 559 claims in FY 2016 from 528 claims filed in FY 2015, or an increase of six percent.

Table 1
HH Medical Malpractice Claims Filed and Settled
FYs 2015-2016

HH Acute Care Hospital Claims Resolved

FY 2016

Amount Paid

(In Millions)

Number of Claims Filed

FY 2016

Number of Claims Filed
FY 2015
Increase/

(Decrease)

Bellevue 22 $11.8 93 82 11
Coney Island 20 $4.3 49 43 6
Elmhurst 19 $8.7 56 52 4
Harlem 16 $13.9 48 28 20
Jacobi / Bronx Municipal 32 $16.4 66 68 (2)
Kings County 42 $15.1 80 90 (10)
Lincoln 32 $16.2 75 64 11
Metropolitan 6 $1.5 16 18 (2)
North Central Bronx 5 $3.3 11 6 5
Queens Hospital Center 10 $6.0 29 28 1
Woodhull 12 $2.6 36 49 (13)
Total 216 $99.8 559[xii] 528[xiii] 31
  • Department of Correction

The FYs 2013-2014 Claims Report projected an increase in the number of DOC claims filed and cost for settlement and judgment payouts.  Following the surge in DOC settlement and judgment costs to $27.1 million in FY 2015, from $11.1 million in FY 2014, FY 2016 saw a continuation of this upward trend with $31.3 million in settlement and judgment costs—a 182 percent increase between FY 2014 to FY 2016.

As the chart below shows, there has been a significant increase in claims filed against DOC since FY 2013.  In FY 2016, DOC claims filed jumped by 25 percent to 4,321 claims from 3,462 claims in FY 2015.

  • TORT CLAIM TRENDS BY BOROUGH [xiv]

The Bronx had the most overall tort claims filed, with 7,546 claims, followed by Brooklyn (6,672 claims), Manhattan (5,044 claims), Queens (4,628 claims), and Staten Island (1,224 claims).  Consistent with FY 2014 and FY 2015, the Bronx had the most personal injury claims filed (6,351 claims) and Queens had the most property damage claims filed (2,114 claims).

Table 2
Number of Claims Filed By Borough FY 2016

Borough Personal Injury (PI) Claims Property Damage (PD) Claims
Bronx 6,351 1,195
Brooklyn 4,726 1,946
Manhattan 3,568 1,476
Queens 2,514 2,114
Staten Island 608 616

The Bronx had the highest per capita filing of personal injury claims at 436 claims per 100,000 residents, as compared to Queens, which had the fewest at 107 claims.  Staten Island had the greatest number of property damage claims filed per capita with 130 claims per 100,000 residents, while Brooklyn had the fewest with 74 claims.[xv]

Table 3
Claims Filed by Borough Per 100,000 Residents[xvi]
FY 2016

Borough Total PI and PD Claims Per 100,000 Residents Total PI Claims Per 100,000 Residents Total PD Claims Per 100,000 Residents
Bronx 518 436 82
Brooklyn 253 179 74
Manhattan 307 217 90
Queens 198 107 90
Staten Island 258 128 130

Table 4
Claims Resolved and Amounts Paid by Borough
FY 2016

Borough Number of
PI Claims Resolved
Amount Paid for PI Claims
(In Millions)
Number of
PD Claims Resolved
Amount Paid for PD Claims (In Millions) Total PI and PD Claims Resolved Total PI and
PD Claim Payouts
(In Millions)
Bronx 2,471 $222.4 344 $1.0 2,815 $223.4
Brooklyn 1,939 $135.4 603 $2.1 2,542 $137.5
Manhattan 1,373 $108.5 427 $2.0 1,800 $110.5
Queens 903 $78.8 616 $2.9 1,519 $81.7
Staten Island 304 $24.8 193 $0.6 497 $25.4

V. Law (Non-Tort) Claims

Although all claims are rooted in the law, the Comptroller’s Office characterizes non-tort claims as “law claims”—for operational and record-keeping purposes.  Such claims and/or disputes arising from City contracts, equitable claims, refund claims, City employee salary disputes, claims involving DOE special education matters, sidewalk assessments, and cleanup costs levied on property owners who are in violation of the Mental Hygiene Law, as well as affirmative claims brought by the City against other parties.

  • OVERALL LAW CLAIM TRENDS

The overall number of law claims filed declined five percent to 5,840 in FY 2016 from 6,169 in FY 2015.  This change reflects a plateau in the number of claims filed after the 65 percent increase in the number of claims filed from FY 2013 to FY 2015.  There were 3,743 law claims filed in FY 2013 and 4,214 in FY 2014.  The previous increase was due primarily to a 73 percent uptick in special education claims[xvii] filed in FY 2015 over FY 2014 and a 101 percent increase in special education claims in FY 2015 over FY 2013.  This increase came after the City launched a new “fast track” process in June 2014 to address claims for costs and tuition payments from parents of students requiring special education services.

The total number of settlements and judgments for law claims declined 10 percent to 4,838 claims in FY 2016 from 5,349 claims in FY 2015.  The total amount of settlements and judgments paid out for law claims increased three percent to $380.9 million in FY 2016 from $371.4 million in FY 2015.[xviii]  Payouts of special education claims in FY 2016 represented 67 percent of all law claim payouts.

Contract claims accounted for the second largest payout of law claims in FY 2016 at $49.6 million, representing 13 percent of all law claims settlements and judgments.  This is an 11 percent increase in the amount paid out for contract claims over the $44.8 million paid out in FY 2015.

Special Education Claims

Special education claims include two categories of claims: claims on behalf of parents for the reimbursement of special education services costs and tuition,[xix] and claims for statutory attorneys’ fees where an underlying claim for special education reimbursement has been successful.

Following the City’s June 2014 launch of a new “fast track” process for addressing claims for costs and tuition payments from parents of students requiring special education services, the Comptroller’s Office noted a sharp rise in the number of special education claims settled and paid out in FY 2015.  The number of claims filed and paid out in FY 2016 continues to reflect this rise from pre-“fast track” levels.

Chart 17
Special Education Claims Filed and Settled
FYs 2013-2016

In FY 2016 the number of special education claims filed decreased nine percent from FY 2015.  In FY 2016 there were 4,091 special education claims filed, compared to 4,478 claims filed in FY 2015.  However, the number of special education claims filed in FY 2016 more than doubled the 2,029 filed in FY 2013 (a 102 percent increase) and represent a 58 percent increase over the 2,582 claims filed in FY 2014.

The total number of special education claims settled in FY 2016 slightly decreased by seven percent to 3,770 from the 4,067 claims settled in FY 2015. However, these special education claim settlements still represent a 105 percent increase over the 1,841 claims settled in FY 2013 and 70 percent increase over the 2,223 claims settled in FY 2014.

The amount of settlements paid out for special education claims in the past year has climbed slightly, despite a slight decrease in the number of claims settled.  There was a three percent increase in settlements paid out on special education claims during FY 2016 ($256.3 million) as compared to FY 2015 ($249.9 million).  However, the amount of settlement payouts in FY 2016 are 141 percent greater than those in FY 2013 and 96 percent greater than those in FY 2014.

Contract Delay Claims

Contract claims include those claims alleging that a contractor was damaged by delays caused by the actions or inactions of the City on construction projects.  Delay claims—a subcategory of contract claims—typically arise on larger construction projects such as those involving bridges and wastewater treatment plants.  The analyses of these claims require the expertise of numerous staff members within the Comptroller’s Office, including professional engineers, auditors, and attorneys.

While only 10 delay claims settled in FY 2016, accounting for just 30 percent of the 33 contract claims settled, the settlement amount of for these 10 delay claims makes up more than 52 percent of the $49.6 million total settlements and judgments amount for contract claims in FY 2016.

In FY 2016, these 10 delay claims, with alleged damages totaling $88.2 million, were negotiated and settled for $26.0 million.  This represents a savings of $62.2 million, or 70 percent, over the amount of damages claimed by contractors.  The damages from delay claims settled in FY 2016 represents increased project costs attributable to agency-caused delays of up to 16 percent over the original contract prices.

Of the 10 delay claims settled in FY 2016, four of those claims arose out of contracts with DEP.  These four claims alleged damages totaling $40.7 million, which the City was able to negotiate and settle for $19.2 million.  This represents a savings of 53 percent over the claimed damages.  Of these four DEP claims, three arose out of contracts for the upgrade of water pollution control plants (WPCP contracts).  The settlement of the three WPCP contract delay claims account for 99 percent of the DEP delay claim settlements and 73 percent of all delay claims settlements in FY 2016.  Settlement of WPCP contract delay claims accounted for 76 percent of all delay claims settlements in FY 2015.  Delays in WPCP contracts continue to account for the largest portion of payouts for delay claim settlements and judgments.

Chart 18
Contract Delay Claims by Agency
Amount Paid in Settlements and Judgments
and Percentage of Delay Claim Settlements and Judgments Paid

Alternative Dispute Resolution Claims

Contracts between the City and vendors solicited after September 1990 have included an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provision designed to provide a speedy alternative to litigation.  When a dispute arises, a contractor may attempt to resolve it directly with the agency involved.  If no agreement is reached during that process, a claim can subsequently be filed with the Comptroller’s Office.  If the claim is denied, the contractor may appeal to the Contract Dispute Resolution Board.

In FY 2016, 60 dispute claims were negotiated and settled for a total of $6.0 million.  The number of disputes settled increased 33 percent from 45 dispute claims in FY 2015, while the total settlement amount increased by 100 percent ($3.0 million) in FY 2016 from $3.0 million in FY 2015.

Refund Claims

Refund claims include claims by private individuals seeking refunds for alleged overpayments and unjust fines.  In FY 2016, 26 refund claims were negotiated and settled for $14.2 million compared to 21 refund claims negotiated and settled for $699,468 in FY 2015.  Included in FY 2016 refund claim payouts is a $14.0 million settlement of a class action involving the improper issuance of hundreds of thousands of parking violations and fines to commercial vehicles within the City over a four-year period.

Affirmative Claims

Affirmative claims are those brought by the City against individuals, companies, and corporations for torts, breaches of contract, and remedy for violations of civil codes.  These claims include, among others, funds due to the City for housing or building code violations, actions arising from the sale of unlicensed cigarettes and other public nuisances, contract overpayments, and recoupment of Medicaid assistance payments.

In FY 2016, the Comptroller’s Office approved settlement of 880 affirmative claims for a benefit to the City of $9.1 million, as compared to FY 2015, when 867 Affirmative claims were settled for $17.6 million.  The FY 2016 settlements were $8.5 million or 48 percent lower than FY 2015 in part due to several multi-million dollar settlements of affirmative claims to the benefit of the City in FY 2015.  In FY 2015, these settlements resulted in a combined recovery of $10.2 million, including a City recovery of $2.6 million arising from a breach of services contract, a $5.0 million recovery from a company that schemed to evade New York City taxes on cigarettes, and a $2.6 million recovery and a guarantee of 10 affordable housing units for low-income New Yorkers for the next 35 years from a property developer for its failure to adhere to land use restrictions meant to protect low income New Yorkers.

APPENDIX A

Description of Claim Types

Claims that are filed against the City are classified into categories to facilitate analysis by the Comptroller’s Office and other interested parties.

Under the present classification structure, claims are categorized initially by the City agency involved and by general category of claim: personal injury, property damage, or law.  Each general category has subtypes, and it is at this level that claims are analyzed.  For example, personal injury claims may include alleged slip/trip and fall accidents on sidewalks (claims alleging a defective sidewalk), or injuries that occurred in school (school claims), or in a City park (recreation claims). The present coding system classifies claim types as follows:

I. Personal Injury Claims

      1. ADMIRALTY
        Admiralty claims include claims by passengers or other persons injured on the water, either on City vessels or ferries, gangplanks, or piers.
      2. ROADWAY
        Roadway claims include pedestrians, motorists, or others claiming injuries as a result of alleged defects in a street or roadway, such as potholes, cracked, wet or snow-covered roadways, sewer gratings, raised, missing or exploding manhole covers, or roadways under repair.
      3. SIDEWALK
        Sidewalk claims include pedestrians or others claiming injury because of an allegedly defective sidewalk such as, broken or uneven sidewalks, broken curbstones, protruding bolts, grates, or parking meter or traffic sign stubs, defective boardwalks, and snow and ice claims.
      4. TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE
        Traffic control device claims are filed by pedestrians or motorists injured in accidents allegedly caused by malfunctioning traffic signals, defective or missing traffic devices, or downed or missing traffic signs.
      5. POLICE ACTION
        Police action claims result from alleged improper police action, such as false arrest or imprisonment, excessive force or assault, or failure to provide police protection.
      6. SCHOOL
        School claims are those filed against the DOE by students, teachers, other staff, parents, or visitors to DOE facilities.
      7. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
        This category of claim derives from medical malpractice in the diagnosis, treatment, or care at a City or HH facility or from EMS treatment.
      8. HEALTH FACILITY/NON-MEDICAL INCIDENTS
        These claims involve non-medical acts involving a City or HH facility or employee, such as injuries sustained by visitors due to wet floors, assaults of patients or visitors, loss of sepulcher, or abuse or assaults of senior citizens by home care workers.
      9. MOTOR VEHICLE
        Motor vehicle claims involve alleged accidents with City-owned vehicles.  Included in this category are cases of pedestrians, motorists, or passengers of other vehicles allegedly struck by a City-owned vehicle, and operators or passengers of City-owned vehicles involved in a collision.
      10. UNIFORMED SERVICES EMPLOYEE
        Included in this category of claims are those filed by City employees of the uniformed services, such as NYPD, FDNY, DOE teachers, or DSNY employees who are not subject to Workers’ Compensation laws and may sue the City for on-the-job personal injuries.
      11. PARKS AND RECREATION
        These claims are asserted by persons allegedly injured because of defective equipment or negligent maintenance of property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation.  This includes incidents that occur in Parks Department buildings or on playground equipment and grounds, and incidents involving falling trees or limbs, whether on a street, sidewalk, or in a park.
      12. CITY PROPERTY
        This category includes claims by tenants or others asserting that they were injured by an alleged defect in or the negligent maintenance of City-owned land, or a City-owned or City-administered building or facility.
      13. CATASTROPHE
        This claim type includes claims filed as a result of natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes; environmental accidents, such as leaking gas tanks; power failures, such as blackouts; and civil disturbances, such as riots.
      14. Civil Rights
        Civil rights claims involve alleged Federal, State or City statutory or constitutional violations, such as discrimination based on sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or age.
      15. Correction Facility
        Correction claims involve claims by inmates, employees of and visitors to City correction institutions or facilities who were allegedly injured by the actions of City employees or inmates.
      16. AFFIRMATIVE CLAIMS
        Claims brought by the City against individuals, companies, and corporations for damages to City property.

II. Property Damage Claims

      1. ADMIRALTY
        These claims are for alleged property damaged on the water, either on City vessels, ferries, gangplanks, or piers.
      2. SEWER OVERFLOW
        Sewer overflow claims include alleged flooding or water damage to real or personal property caused by inadequate sewer repairs or clogged/obstructed City sewers.
      3. WATER MAIN BREAK
        Water main break claims include alleged water damage to real or personal property as a result of leaking or broken water mains or fire hydrants.
      4. ROADWAY
        This claim type includes claims for vehicles that are damaged by allegedly defective roadways, or from objects that have fallen from bridges or overpasses.  Also included are claims made by pedestrians who sustained damage to personal property as a result of an alleged fall on a defective roadway.
      5. SIDEWALK
        Sidewalk claims are made by individuals who sustain damage to personal property as a result of an allegedly defective sidewalk.
      6. TRAFFIC DEVICE
        This claim type includes vehicles or other personal property damaged in accidents allegedly caused by defective, obstructed, or missing traffic lights or stop signs.
      7. POLICE ACTIONPolice action claims relate to vehicles or other personal property that is allegedly stolen, damaged, sold, or destroyed while in police custody.
      8. SCHOOLSchool claims include allegations for lost, stolen, or damaged personal property that belongs to students, teachers, or DOE staff while on DOE property.
      9. HEALTH FACILITYThese claims include the personal property of patients or others that has allegedly been lost, stolen, or damaged while on HH or City hospital property.
      10. MOTOR VEHICLE
        Motor vehicle claims include vehicles or other personal property that is allegedly damaged in accidents with City-owned vehicles.  Included are parked cars allegedly hit by City-owned vehicles and vehicles damaged while being towed.
      11. UNIFORMED SERVICES/CITY EMPLOYEES
        This claim type includes claims for personal property that is allegedly lost, damaged, or stolen from City employees while at work.
      12. PARKS AND RECREATION
        Claims in this category include personal property that is allegedly lost, stolen, or damaged in the City’s parks.  Damage occurs from vandalism, poor maintenance, unmarked fresh paint, or accidents involving grounds and equipment.
      13. PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND PROPERTYThis claim type includes claims for personal property allegedly damaged or stolen as a result of a defect or negligence in maintaining City-owned land, buildings or facilities.
      14. CATASTROPHE
        These claims include property damage allegedly caused by the City’s response to a natural disaster (such as a flood or earthquake), an environmental accident (such as a leaking gas tank), power failures (blackouts), or civil disturbances (such as riots).
      15. DAMAGE CITY ACTION/PERSONNEL
        These claims include property damaged allegedly caused by City-owned vehicles or equipment, such as a City-owned vehicle damaging a homeowner’s fence or other property, or damage caused by a traffic light falling onto a vehicle.
      16. CORRECTION FACILITY
        Correction facility claims include claims by prisoners, inmates, detainees, or visitors whose personal property is lost, stolen, or damaged while in a correction institution.

III. Law Claims

      1. CONTRACT
        Claims in this category arise from disputes between the City and private contractors (construction or non-construction) and where the City is a lessee or lessor of property.
      2. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
        Contracts between the City and vendors solicited after September 1990 include an Alternative Dispute Resolution provision designed to provide a speedy alternative to litigation.  When disputes arise, contractors may attempt to resolve them directly with the City agency involved.  If no agreement is reached, a claim can then be filed with the Comptroller’s Office.  If the claim is denied, the contractor may appeal to the Contract Dispute Resolution Board.
      3. ILLEGAL BUT EQUITABLE
        These claims typically allege that work was performed at the direction of the City and/or the City accepted services, but the necessary contract and other approval were not obtained.  These claims, though invalid at law, may be recognized as equitable and proper if it can be determined that the City received a benefit and that the public interest would be served by payment or compromise.
      4. SALARY
        Salary claims are those claims for back pay and/or attorneys’ fees by prospective, current, or former City employees alleging employment related disputes. These disputes include claims for discrimination, out-of-title work, pay differential, annual leave, and suspension; excluded from this claim type is those claims that are seeking damages for personal injury. 
      5. REFUND
        Refund claims include claims by private individuals seeking refunds for alleged overpayments and unjust fines. 
      6. CHANGE OF GRADE
        These claims are made by commercial or residential property owners or lessees.  The claims arise from changes in grade to a sidewalk that impair access to property and drainage.  Claims typically are made for loss of business due to walkway or driveway repairs.
      7. SPECIAL EDUCATION
        These claims include claims on behalf of parents for the reimbursement of special education services costs and tuition and claims for statutory attorneys’ fees where an underlying claim for special education reimbursement has been successful.
      8. AFFIRMATIVE CLAIMS
        Claims brought by the City against individuals, companies, and corporations for torts, breaches of contract, and remedy for violations of civil codes.

APPENDIX B

Legal Background

I. Municipal Liability

The decision of the New York Court of Appeals in Bernadine v. New York City, issued in 1945, exposed the City for the first time to liability for torts committed by the City’s officers, agents, and employees.[xx]

In Bernadine, the Court held that “the civil divisions of the State are answerable equally with individuals and private corporations for wrongs of officers and employees—even if no separate statute sanctions that enlarged liability in a given instance.”[xxi]  The Court, in effect, abolished the doctrine of sovereign immunity for municipalities, but did not provide municipalities any of the protections accorded to the State by the Court of Claims Act.[xxii]  In particular, claimants seeking to recover from municipalities for their agents’ negligent and wrongful acts are entitled to a jury trial.

Municipal liability is also governed by local law.  Under their home rule authority, municipalities can limit liability to some extent through limitations on the right to sue.  An example is New York City’s prior notice law, enacted in 1979 in an effort to limit the City’s liability in slip/trip and fall cases on City sidewalks and streets.

II. Claims Process

To commence an action against the City, a claimant typically must first notify the City by filing a Notice of Claim with the Comptroller’s Office.[xxiii]  However, in the case of claims against the HH, claims must be filed directly with HH.  In most instances, the notice of claim for personal injury or property damage must be filed within 90 days of an alleged injury or wrong.[xxiv]

The City Charter grants the Comptroller the power to settle and adjust all claims in favor of or against the City.[xxv] The Comptroller has the power to investigate claims, evaluate liability and damages, and reach a settlement prior to litigation.[xxvi]  If the Comptroller denies liability or is unable to arrive at a settlement with a claimant, the claimant may commence suit.  Actions regarding tort claims must generally be filed within a year and 90 days after the loss.[xxvii]  The Office of the Corporation Counsel, under the direction of the Corporation Counsel, defends the City in most actions (HH defends its medical malpractice actions).  No litigation can be settled without the approval of the Comptroller.[xxviii]

APPENDIX C

Top Tort Claims Adjudicated in FY 2016

Five claimants/plaintiffs arrested and convicted in connection with the “Soundview Murders” that occurred in January 1995.  Claimants/plaintiffs were each incarcerated for more than 17 years.  Claimants/plaintiffs alleged wrongful conviction.  Settlement: Total of $40.0 million; $8.0 million per claimant/plaintiff.

Six claims filed against the NYPD stemming from the “Mafia Cops” were resolved.  Settlement: A total of $13.5 million; per claimant/plaintiff(s) $5.0 million (divided by three surviving claimants/plaintiffs), $1.9 million, $1.8 million, $1.8 million, $1.5 million (divided by four surviving claimants/plaintiffs), and $1.5 million.

Claimant/plaintiff, convicted in a sexual assault case, served 12 years in prison[xxix] before DNA evidence exonerated him.  After a plaintiff’s verdict and an appeal, the verdict was remitted.  Settlement: $12.1 million.

The City resolved the attorneys’ fees in Floyd v. City of New York, a civil rights class action against the NYPD for allegedly unconstitutional stop and frisk policy and practice.  Settlement: $11.3 million.

A class action against the Department of Correction alleging excessive use of force and other policy and practices that allegedly violated the Constitution. Settlement: Total of $9.7 million.

A 25-year-old woman underwent bariatric surgery at Harlem Hospital.  Claimant/plaintiff alleged medical malpractice during post-operative care that caused brain injury resulting in her vegetative state.  Settlement: $8.0 million.

Claimant/plaintiff, a 56-year-old man, alleged excessive force when police officers allegedly dropped him on his head, resulting in quadriplegia.  Settlement: $6.0 million.

Claimant/plaintiff, a 40-year-old-mother of four, alleged medical malpractice after suffering a brain injury following hernia surgery at Lincoln Hospital.  Settlement: $6.0 million. 

APPENDIX D

Chart Index

CHART TITLE PAGE
1 Total Personal Injury Tort Claim Payouts for Legacy Claims FYs 2013-2016 3
2 Number and Percentage of Tort Claims Filed by Category FY 2016 4
3 Percentage of Total Personal Injury Expenditures Recorded by Claim Type FY 2016 5
4 Percentage of Total Property Damage Expenditures Recorded by Claim Type FY 2016 6
5 Expenditures Paid (In Millions) for Personal Injury Claims by Claim Type FY 2016 7
6 Civil Rights Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 8
7 Medical Malpractice Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 9
8 Police Action Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 10
9 Motor Vehicle Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 11
10 Sidewalk Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 12
11 Percentage of Tort Claims Filed by Agency FY 2016 13
12 Percentage and Number of NYPD Claims Filed By Claim Type FY 2016 14
13 NYPD Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 15
14 HH Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 16
15 Department of Correction Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2007-2016 18
16 Law Claims by Type, Amount Paid in Settlements and Judgments (In Millions) and Percentage of Law Claim Settlements and Judgments Paid 21
17 Special Education Claims Filed and Settled FYs 2013-2016 22
18 Contract Delay Claims by Agency, Amount Paid in Settlements and Judgments and Percentage of Delay Claim Settlements and Judgments Paid 24

APPENDIX E

Detailed Tables

Table I – Number of Tort Claims Filed by Claim Type FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Personal Injury
Sidewalk 2,520 2,375 2,548 2,278 2,503 2,014 2,041 2,529 2,559 2,378
Police Action 2,447 2,868 3,360 3,957 4,515 5,535 5,579 5,645 4,926 4,473
School 1,258 1,169 1,141 1,023 1,078 1,060 928 966 924 959
Motor Vehicle 1,310 1,440 1,285 1,347 1,306 1,380 1,187 1,256 1,162 1,226
Roadway 1,111 1,106 1,144 1,051 1,115 947 882 1,002 963 1,042
City Property 4,680 825 627 9,172 1,106 562 534 683 652 705
Correction Facility 989 1,061 1,043 1,188 1,183 1,595 1,657 2,241 2,793 3,658
Civil Rights 1,554 1,769 1,954 2,682 3,080 2,787 2,749 2,918 2,714 2,272
Medical Malpractice 655 701 684 652 610 623 605 588 627 621
Traffic Control Device 167 117 103 109 76 108 126 77 79 62
Parks & Recreation 246 237 261 226 273 286 270 278 297 305
Uniformed Services Employee 183 163 140 164 163 150 151 161 158 165
Other 782 723 747 738 886 768 785 883 844 773
Total 17,902 14,554 15,037 24,587 17,894 17,815 17,494 19,227 18,698 18,639
Property Damage                    
Motor Vehicle 3,855 3,752 3,631 3,969 4,723 3,186 3,323 3,682 3,432 3,909
City Property 101 237 152 131 135 90 310 260 201 164
Correction Facility 211 274 297 442 309 397 263 318 354 286
City Personnel 1,130 1,167 1,166 1,309 1,734 1,349 1,346 962 1,045 1,260
Roadway 1,121 1,518 1,275 2,333 2,806 1,218 1,036 2,844 2,240 1,585
Health Facility 122 160 132 126 103 96 120 140 123 108
Police Action 321 384 299 309 378 366 362 341 302 226
School 236 201 189 179 182 144 107 128 89 100
Sewer Overflow 282 1,503 192 188 205 668 602 613 452 109
Water Main 211 159 158 194 153 238 108 240 156 110
Other 241 513 312 242 273 262 272 244 270 304
Total 7,831 9,868 7,803 9,422 11,001 8,014 7,849 9,772 8,664 8,161
Grand Total 25,733 24,422 22,840 34,009 28,895 25,829 25,343 28,999 27,362 26,800

Table II – Number of Tort Claims Filed by Agency

FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Department of Transportation 5,136 5,403 5,127 5,997 6,337 4,669 4,446 6,299 5,633 5,193
Police Department 5,612 6,225 6,668 8,013 8,798 9,440 9,412 9,491 8,423 7,562
Department of Sanitation 1,766 1,646 1,767 2,123 3,454 1,306 1,692 2,411 2,299 2,163
Department of Education 1,734 1,697 1,628 1,833 1,604 1,566 1,416 1,423 1,407 1,428
NYC Health + Hospitals 908 1,003 932 909 858 845 934 870 903 885
Department of Environmental Protection 761 2,314 737 700 737 1,357 996 1,123 885 509
Department of Correction 1,463 1,610 1,596 1,949 1,798 2,351 2,189 2,910 3,462 4,321
Department of Parks & Recreation 1,026 1,029 1,019 1,101 1,405 1,095 1,048 872 884 1,056
Fire Department 909 963 992 920 1,041 891 932 942 947 1,013
Department of Housing Preservation and Development 103 82 75 82 71 68 74 66 50 64
NYC Human Resources Administration 44 54 52 65 63 76 88 75 74 67
Department of Buildings 43 230 149 955 75 82 61 52 77 57
Other 6,228 2,166 2,098 9,362 2,654 2,083 2,055 2,465 2,318 2,482
Total 25,733 24,422 22,840 34,009 28,895 25,829 25,343 28,999 27,362 26,800

Table III – Dollar Amount of Tort Claim Settlements and Judgments by Claim Type FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Personal Injury
Sidewalk 71,511,708 54,870,423 39,760,227 34,904,412 38,426,098 39,528,306 36,752,110 34,743,430 39,597,496 31,793,833
Police Action 25,533,667 34,616,512 48,413,383 56,788,953 60,237,524 54,334,625 62,875,691 71,938,087 119,533,941 100,553,673
School 41,205,083 53,563,040 54,311,099 35,091,262 42,943,246 25,777,081 24,018,498 24,746,687 32,279,057 28,067,195
Motor Vehicle 55,037,180 56,724,117 79,750,916 63,433,038 83,896,291 70,551,942 85,309,416 88,515,029 67,314,614 89,689,194
Roadway 19,122,676 36,165,533 24,622,949 27,742,588 19,453,578 25,717,847 33,134,170 13,710,874 15,371,910 30,763,503
City Property 34,130,604 26,011,521 30,444,952 14,176,063 18,841,199 8,395,091 5,465,500 21,797,000 4,931,000 19,893,554
Correction Facility 8,857,503 8,199,183 5,938,403 5,025,429 8,504,000 7,833,193 7,312,301 7,323,835 13,185,550 14,115,251
Civil Rights 54,148,433 42,242,687 47,062,984 80,940,455 83,998,422 78,200,352 56,023,108 104,503,798 94,329,034 157,992,639
Medical Malpractice 155,727,867 152,739,578 127,288,634 131,236,136 131,816,744 108,943,419 130,290,406 118,479,990 144,725,937 101,110,210
Traffic Control Device 3,027,925 3,319,500 1,120,750 2,883,300 3,206,350 2,396,000 1,292,315 7,589,500 604,000 2,459,000
Parks & Recreation 12,755,261 7,881,426 5,714,315 7,965,906 7,102,606 12,069,875 20,328,830 13,997,709 6,140,200 8,429,133
Uniformed Services Employee 33,551,471 38,389,850 30,096,000 41,971,283 31,039,500 20,404,000 17,450,382 27,998,500 33,439,000 21,617,500
Other 20,705,877 15,902,378 53,665,446 10,979,970 9,228,394 21,677,145 6,460,359 13,522,260 3,553,393 13,639,985
Total 535,315,255 530,625,748 548,190,058 513,138,795 538,693,951 475,828,876 486,713,085 548,866,697 575,005,132 620,124,670
Property Damage
Motor Vehicle 5,634,961 5,691,702 5,470,334 5,877,547 8,180,319 6,038,833 5,586,990 7,403,408 5,160,278 5,207,672
City Property 198,888 515,162 15,863 8,569 2,815,834 162,524 375,969 67,962 16,554 87,569
Correction Facility 2,801 1,919 14,960 1,551 18,195 18,225 13,061 2,220 665 8,475
City Personnel 1,450,981 3,303,527 579,380 873,332 1,171,735 959,898 971,018 1,494,155 731,826 396,428
Roadway 274,973 820,666 271,099 288,777 423,961 215,726 140,124 192,379 215,029 537,552
Health Facility 2,866 21,559 18,071 19,648 13,037 13,191 18,376 27,144 6,299 13,370
Police Action 188,699 160,451 120,248 513,676 140,899 170,059 388,101 102,697 71,487 56,155
School 7,589 7,604 11,627 24,157 12,454 10,063 4,581 10,110 9,014 4,083
Sewer Overflow 307,720 1,915,311 272,679 383,619 792,808 775,242 546,357 712,861 7,224,105 1,650,663
Water Main 639,425 1,823,962 664,587 2,142,514 1,577,070 3,183,273 314,365 294,175 344,127 1,437,349
Other 13,365 42,005 2,192,880 13,820 97,826 12,118 9,483 25,425 9,391 23,843
Total 8,722,268 14,303,868 9,631,728 10,147,209 15,244,137 11,559,152 8,368,425 10,332,536 13,788,775 9,423,158
Grand Total 544,037,523 544,929,616 557,821,786 523,286,004 553,938,087 487,388,028 495,081,510 559,199,233 588,793,907 629,547,828

Table IV – Dollar Amount of Tort Claim Settlements and Judgments by Agency

FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Department of Transportation 91,729,912 92,500,409 69,697,287 68,204,956 64,147,699 61,924,384 72,253,571 70,786,516 52,021,542 67,717,821
Police Department 89,772,480 104,935,819 134,569,242 137,579,753 186,305,883 152,803,932 138,497,141 219,836,207 225,594,487 279,744,761
Department of Sanitation 35,877,754 27,241,773 32,886,946 38,020,148 28,858,968 36,815,516 30,446,682 37,886,076 29,769,775 40,307,103
Department of Education 41,959,592 53,116,679 55,863,463 36,947,943 52,957,832 28,577,646 32,320,477 27,415,549 35,514,785 33,589,781
NYC Health + Hospitals 158,745,210 153,881,559 134,946,576 135,593,099 133,616,195 108,642,285 132,343,695 124,887,221 121,360,654 112,234,094
Department of Environmental Protection 3,786,706 8,478,133 8,109,061 7,857,296 8,071,431 5,628,320 3,372,170 13,182,950 18,795,525 7,278,861
Department of Correction 16,971,195 21,390,722 16,258,404 43,580,956 15,403,868 20,308,756 11,767,521 11,103,116 27,144,858 31,298,230
Department of Parks & Recreation 15,817,606 12,138,161 9,415,871 16,104,444 17,673,228 18,971,285 29,564,344 18,330,734 13,844,953 11,659,774
Fire Department 22,562,845 18,602,877 16,318,205 20,007,262 16,231,360 28,485,774 19,665,971 20,426,695 46,626,403 16,401,152
Department of Housing Preservation and Development 18,179,508 21,283,261 15,727,510 5,126,366 5,057,356 2,154,067 555,452 2,705,221 1,964,125 9,255,842
NYC Human Resources Administration 4,840,071 866,534 1,482,725 387,636 1,278,134 1,580,241 1,035,063 985,692 970,799 1,671,131
Department of Buildings 854,544 1,413,458 380,236 112,152 2,941,818 218,006 377,908 157,901 268,913 2,966,514
Other 42,940,100 29,080,231 62,166,260 13,763,993 21,394,315 21,277,816 22,881,515 11,495,355 14,917,088 15,422,764
Grand Total 544,037,523 544,929,616 557,821,786 523,286,004 553,938,087 487,388,028 495,081,510 559,199,233 588,793,907 629,547,828

Table V – Number of Tort Claim Settlements and Judgments by Claim Type
FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Personal Injury                    
Sidewalk 1,489 1,317 1,041 922 866 857 685 658 664 650
Police Action 715 980 1,144 1,300 1,539 1,751 2,105 2,249 2,278 2473
School 978 1,065 848 823 902 728 660 532 482 545
Motor Vehicle 964 1,041 909 895 824 832 725 668 587 656
Roadway 713 750 559 512 547 511 417 367 334 364
City Property 162 170 138 107 113 93 61 70 38 86
Correction Facility 144 159 227 195 266 309 255 378 451 634
Civil Rights 4,428 938 1,141 1,281 1,656 1,687 1,558 2,047 1,681 1351
Medical Malpractice 300 311 292 315 265 260 267 204 245 230
Traffic Control Device 95 73 55 38 32 28 22 29 20 14
Parks & Recreation 176 188 153 137 155 175 164 149 136 168
Uniformed Services Employee 105 123 90 117 84 106 75 95 121 110
Other 99 76 109 86 78 81 62 69 51 64
Total 10,368 7,191 6,706 6,728 7,327 7,418 7,056 7,515 7,088 7,345
Property Damage                    
Motor Vehicle 2,703 2,513 2,342 2,495 3,216 2,254 2,135 2,379 1,896 1,917
City Property 27 17 10 10 16 20 19 39 6 61
Correction Facility 9 9 6 5 21 11 12 5 3 5
City Personnel 351 332 262 352 329 374 353 408 284 161
Roadway 244 300 275 306 437 208 117 197 287 88
Health Facility 19 44 36 33 25 23 22 40 17 16
Police Action 55 52 62 45 45 48 48 35 26 18
School 53 42 39 83 55 47 26 35 35 15
Sewer Overflow 57 55 60 50 88 60 115 144 650 104
Water Main 76 97 88 77 94 62 51 51 38 68
Other 13 18 14 16 8 7 6 10 6 7
Total 3,607 3,479 3,194 3,472 4,334 3,114 2,904 3,343 3,248 2,460
Grand Total 13,975 10,670 9,900 10,200 11,661 10,532 9,960 10,858 10,336 9,805

Table VI – Number of Tort Claim Settlements and Judgments by Agency

FYs 2007-2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Department of Transportation 2,565 2,437 1,962 1,868 1,935 1,689 1,363 1,393 1,381 1,170
Police Department 2,670 2,962 3,160 3,572 4,117 4,359 4,519 5,050 4,443 4,242
Department of Sanitation 1,499 1,312 1,254 1,376 2,103 1,302 1,045 1,426 1,133 1,182
Department of Education 1,055 1,133 943 961 995 812 733 616 561 599
NYC Health + Hospitals 398 434 413 419 345 337 336 315 313 350
Department of Environmental Protection 297 333 303 284 373 283 300 292 794 283
Department of Correction 3,531 313 388 365 441 464 387 534 601 838
Department of Parks & Recreation 417 436 355 375 391 430 428 390 354 351
Fire Department 578 652 624 642 596 508 586 585 510 488
Department of Housing Preservation and Development 97 92 55 30 35 26 17 14 11 21
NYC Human Resources Administration 30 31 17 21 13 19 20 16 20 26
Department of Buildings 25 25 13 16 20 25 17 17 12 11
Other 813 510 413 271 297 278 209 210 203 244
Total 13,975 10,670 9,900 10,200 11,661 10,532 9,960 10,858 10,336 9,805

Table VII – Number of Law Claims Filed by Claim Type

FYs 2010*-2016

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Affirmative 669 857 768 799 753 875 911
Contract 149 185 179 217 134 155 152
Disputes 96 100 141 157 177 118 173
Equitable 17 18 7 10 6 4 11
Other 2,635 358 327 275 239 238 243
Refund 138 176 784 173 234 209 168
Salary 83 86 347 83 89 92 91
Special Education 182 2,161 2,439 2,029 2,582 4,478 4,091
Total 3,969 3,941 4,992 3,743 4,214 6,169 5,840

*Historically, law claims have not been tracked in a uniform manner, so only data from FY 2010 through FY 2016 is provided.

Table VIII – Number of Law Claims Settlements & Judgments by Claim Type

FYs 2010*-2016

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Affirmative 614 858 752 785 742 867 880
Contract 26 18 28 27 26 22 33
Disputes 47 30 35 30 44 45 60
Equitable 8 12 8 3 2 6 2
Other 2,301 45 44 31 26 35 39
Refund 10 15 25 590 16 21 26
Salary 17 4,418 21 19 23 286 28
Special Education 540 2,086 2,366 1,841 2,223 4,067 3,770
Total 3,563 7,482 3,279 3,326 3,102 5,349 4,838

*Historically, law claims have not been tracked in a uniform manner, so only data from FY 2010 through FY 2016 is provided.

Table IX – Dollar Amount of Law Claims Settlements & Judgments by Claim Type*

FYs 2010**-2016

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Contract $12,629,562 $8,997,798 $21,840,545 $50,992,338 $19,573,476 $44,846,785 $49,603,907
Disputes $4,509,068 $3,667,018 $4,519,344 $3,105,639 $7,325,629 $3,001,135 $6,028,867
Equitable $661,072 $394,391 $1,311,758 $446,904 $76,576 $616,256 $25,143
Other $116,274,262 $14,259,856 $96,579,904 $4,501,988 $7,402,205 $6,732,560 $38,261,274
Refund $12,404 $64,960 $431,997 $298,402 $118,118 $699,468 $14,208,915
Salary $6,021,876 $10,226,385 $5,284,521 $33,332,876 $104,468,018 $65,511,792 $16,510,008
Special Education $24,946,960 $105,466,595 $120,577,708 $106,243,225 $130,450,454 $249,944,721 $256,303,283
Total $165,055,203 $143,077,003 $250,545,777 $198,921,372 $269,414,476 $371,352,717 $380,941,396

Endnotes

*Figures on Law Claims settlements and judgments dollar amount does not include claims wherein the City is to receive payment

**Historically, law claims have not been tracked in a uniform manner, so only data from FY 2010 through FY 2016 is provided.

[i]     City Charter Chapter 5, § 93(i).

[ii]     The Comptroller’s Office records claims data in its Omnibus Automated Image Storage and Information System (OAISIS).  This report is based on data available in OAISIS as of January 18, 2017 for tort claims and January 6, 2017 for law claims.  Since OAISIS is a dynamic system that is updated constantly, data in this report does not reflect values for matters that have occurred but have not yet been reported in OAISIS.

[iii]    New York City’s tort claim costs are paid from the Judgments and Claims account established annually in the City’s General Fund, except NYC Health + Hospitals assumes financial responsibility for its settlements.

[iv]      NY Exec. Law § 632-a(1)(a), (b).

[v]     Actions filed against the “Mafia Cops,” former NYPD Detectives Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa, for alleged connections to the murders that happened in the 1980s and 1990s, settled for $13.5 million. (A related case involving these former Detectives settled for $5.0 million in FY 2015; further, Barry Gibbs, convicted of murdering a woman in Brooklyn and incarcerated for 19 years, sued former Detective Eppolito alleging wrongful conviction in a case that settled for $9.9 million in FY 2011.)

[vi]    For the purposes of the Claims Report, “filed” describes those claims in which a notice of claim was timely filed with the Comptroller’s Office; “settled” means any claim or lawsuit that was resolved and resulted in the City paying out money to claimant.

[vii]    See Appendix A for a description of claim types.

[viii]   In FY 2016, DOE claims filed increased to 1,428 up from 1,407 claims filed in FY 2015.

[ix]    Individuals convicted of the “Soundview Murders” that occurred on January 17-19, 1995, had their convictions vacated in 2012 and 2013, after two other individuals confessed to the murders.

[x]     Alan Newton, convicted of sexual assault, and exonerated by DNA evidence. Newton v. City of New York, 784 F.Supp.2d 470 (S.D.N.Y. 2011)(Judge Scheindlin set aside jury verdict of $18.0 million based on Section 1983 claims); 739 F.3d 140 (2d Cir. 2015)(Second Circuit vacated Judge Scheindlin’s decision, reinstated jury verdict, and remanded the case for remittitur); 136 S.Ct. 795 (2016)(Supreme Court denied cert for City appeal of Second Circuit decision); 171 F.Supp.3d (S.D.N.Y. 2016)(Judge Scheindlin reduced jury award to $12.0 million).

[xi]    HH operates 11 acute care hospitals.

[xii]   In FY 2016, the remaining 24 medical malpractice claims filed were against NYC long-term care centers, correction facilities, family care centers, emergency medical services, or unidentified health care facilities.

[xiii]   In FY 2015, the remaining 100 medical malpractice claims filed were against NYC long-term care centers, correction facilities, family care centers, emergency medical services, or unidentified health care facilities.

[xiv]   Personal injury and property damage claims are analyzed by borough based on location of incident.  Some notices of claim are filed without borough specific information or allege incidents that occurred outside the five boroughs.  Law claims are not tracked by borough.  Population statistics do not take into account commuters or tourists.

[xv]   The United States Census Bureau estimated as of July 1, 2015 the total population for New York City was 8,550,405 residents.  In order of population the boroughs are: Brooklyn (2,636,735 or 31 percent of the total population); Queens (2,339,150 or 27 percent of the total population); Manhattan (1,644,518 or 19 percent of the total population); Bronx (1,455,444 or 17 percent of the total population); and Staten Island (474,558 or six percent of the total population).  Statistics do not take into account commuters and tourists.

[xvi]   Rounded to the nearest whole claim.

[xvii] These numbers include both claims by parents for reimbursement of special education costs and tuition and claims for attorneys’ fees where an underlying claim for special education reimbursement has been successful.

[xviii] While the total number of law claims settlements and judgements include all resolved law claims, law claims settlements and judgment payment figures do not include claims wherein the City is to receive payment.

[xix]   Claims for special education services costs and tuition reimbursement submitted by the DOE for settlement at the administrative level are for claims of $25,000 or more.  Under a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Comptroller’s Office and the DOE, the DOE is authorized to make annual tuition payments up to $25,000 without Comptroller approval.  The Comptroller may rescind this MOU at any time.  Requests for settlement authority submitted by the Office of the Corporation Counsel for special education reimbursement claims that have proceeded to litigation are not subject to this MOU and are for claims in any amount.

[xx]   Bernadine v. City of New York, 294 N.Y. 361, 365 (1945).

[xxi]   Id.

[xxii]   Court of Claims Act of 1920, L. 1920, ch. 922, and L. 1929, ch. 467, § 1.

[xxiii]                 General Municipal Law, Article § 50-e.  Effective September 2010, claimants can file personal injury and property damage claims electronically through the Comptroller’s website (http://comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/claims/file-a-claim/).

[xxiv]   General Municipal Law, Article 4, § 50-e. One notable exception is a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Federal Civil Rights Act; a § 1983 action can be filed directly in court without filing a notice of claim if no state cause of action is asserted.

[xxv]   City Charter, Chapter 5, § 93(i).

[xxvi] BLA investigates claims filed against the City; obtains and evaluates accident reports and other documents provided by agencies; conducts field visits, interviews witnesses, and conducts hearings; evaluates liability and damages; and attempts to settle appropriate cases.  The Comptroller’s Office Bureau of Engineering investigates construction contract claims and negotiates claim settlements, together with BLA and, if litigation is pending, the Office of the Corporation Counsel.

[xxvii]           General Municipal Law, Article 4, § 50-i. A significant exception to this requirement is in the area of medical malpractice, in particular, claims for injuries to newborn infants.

[xxviii]          City Charter, Chapter 17, § 394(c).

[xxix] The parties stipulated that damages would be limited to 12 years of incarceration.