New York City Spent $568 Million on Malpractice, Property, Other Claims

March 13, 2009

New York City spent almost $568 million to settle damage claims, and the biggest awards were attributed to city-owned hospitals and the police and transportation departments, the comptroller said Thursday.

The latest dollar total, which covered fiscal 2008, was about $10 million higher than the previous year, Democratic Comptroller William Thompson said in a statement.

Property damage from two major storms helped drive the total number of new claims to 26,798, the second-highest number since 1999.

The record for the number of new claims was set in 2007, which included more than 4,000 claims pinned to injuries that resulted from the September 11, 2001, attacks, Thompson added.

Thompson, a Democratic mayoral candidate, said he has used several methods to curb how much the city must pay, from trying to weed out and settle “meritorious” claims, to avoid “costly litigation and unpredictable outcomes,” and an Internet-based settlement system.

Such initiatives are particularly important now because the city faces multi-year multibillion deficits.

Thompson says that city-owned hospitals clipped the number of malpractice claims, and the total that was paid out was the second lowest in the last 10 years.

In contrast, the number of claims filed against the police department rose 32 percent from 2002 to 2008.

New pilot programs should be tried to see if holding the transportation and education departments “fiscally accountable for their own claims” will lower costs, Thompson added.

(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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