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Can You Guess The Lawsuit Capital Of The World?

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According to Legal Funding Central, New York City is the lawsuit capital of the world.

When it comes to potentially litigious situations, you know that quintessential New York expression,“Fuhgeddaboutit?” Not applicable.

When Chicago and Miami objected, claiming that they had more litigation per capita than their northern cousin, New York stared them in the face and scowled, “So sue me.”

In a metropolis where someone making eye contact on the subway is grounds for justifiable homicide, you might already assume that New Yorkers are busy suing each other. Which they probably are. But the lawsuit “award of distinction” was in recognition of New Yorkers suing the city itself – New York – in record numbers.

It’s evident that NYC residents love the city: it’s their favorite melting pot, cultural center and shopping mecca, and most importantly, defendant!

We finally have an answer to the question, “Why is New York the city that never sleeps?” Answer: It spends its evenings defending itself in night court!

For fiscal year 2014, NYC budgeted $674 million dollars solely for settling lawsuits filed against it and its assorted departments, which amounted to almost 40 percent more than the 2012 FY total, and comes close to costing $80 per NYC resident.

It’s gotten so out of control that the city recently changed the lyrics to its theme song:

Start spreading the news

I’m filing today

I’ve got a brand new case against

New York, New York

So what accounts for the Big Apple becoming the Deep Pocket?

Unsurprisingly, the New York Police Department accounts for the preponderance of the city’s tort lawsuits, with almost 9,500 claims filed against it in one year. The bulk of the claims are for civil rights violations and police misconduct. Ferguson, you didn’t invent suspect police behavior.

But many of the tort claims were over pothole damage, sewage back-up, injuries caused by code violations in city properties, and the like. The city is literally an accident waiting to happen.

New York: The town where the ambulance chases you.

Speaking of which, while it’s busy cleaning up the streets, the Department of Sanitation is apparently dinging cars and worse left and right, as attested to by the great number of Motor Vehicle Property Damage claims filed against it each year. If your car wasn’t a “junker” before the Sanitation Department rolled by it, there’s a good chance it was afterward.

One instructive and surprising culprit for urban planners and personal injury lawyers alike to contemplate emerged from an unlikely source: The Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2007, the Department initiated a plan to plant one million trees. It was the arboreal version of the celebrated “Million Man March” of some years back, except the trees weren’t protesting anything, and can’t march. In any case, shortly after beginning the planting of a million trees, the Department also drastically pruned its tree-pruning budget. The result? A dramatic increase in people being felled by falling trees and limbs. People were literally being torn “limb” from “limb.”

City-wide claims of people being attacked by killer trees rose 92 percent from 2009 to 2011, when the budget was revisited and increased. In that time, NYC settled a number of multi-million dollar claims precipitated by falling tree parts. One New Yorker struck by a renegade tree limb in Central Park was awarded $11.5 million for his injuries, which was more than twice the Parks Department budget for street tree pruning contracts between FY 2010 – 2012.

If ever there was a case of short-sighted urban administrators not seeing the forest for the trees, this was it. For personal injury lawyers, the takeaway is: Budget cuts are your friend.

Also, “cities are for suing.”

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One Comment

  1. Seth Simons says:

    Stan, funny that you should write about killer trees — we wrote about those today, too!

    Stay tuned for more news about the world’s most litigious city…