A drop in claims against New York City might soon mean taxpayers shell out less to pay for lawsuits filed against the city, according to a new report.
Comptroller Scott Stringer told Metro at least three of the five agencies that shoulder many of the claims made against the city have seen a drop in the last year.
Lawsuits against police for personal injury are down almost 13 percent in 2015, declining to 5,007 from 5,727 the year before.
Still, Stinger’s office found the 44th and 46th precincts in the Bronx and Harlem’s 25th Precinct actually saw more claims for every complaint of a crime. The South Bronx and upper Manhattan also still file more claims than any other part of the city.
Overall, the department saw a 12 percent drop in all claims against it.
Stringer credited his office’s stronger relationship with the NYPD for access to numbers that help better track claims using the comptroller’s ClaimStat system. He debuted the tracker in mid-2014 to cut down from the $670 million the city budgeted at the time to pay for claims.
The city increased its budget for claims since then to $710 million. It also spent $4.5 million to hire more attorneys to specifically fight lawsuits against NYPD the administration said were “frivolous.”
“And $710 million can go a long way,” Stringer said, pointing to city priorities that need funding, including homelessness and education.
Less successful than the NYPD were the Department of Sanitation and the Health and Hospital Corporation.
Sanitation saw a 41 percent hike in claims of property damage thanks to department vehicles. The HHC saw an increase of claims to 902 from 876 in 2014, but also saw an increase in malpractice claims against the agency’s hospitals.
“The de Blasio administration has implemented a number of new initiatives to drive down costs related to claims, while also continuing to bring police and communities closer together,” de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said in a statement. “From the new unit focused on more strategic and streamlined handling of claims against police officers, to increased, stable funding for tree maintenance, the city is committed to protecting NYC taxpayers.”
Along with NYPD, the report gave high marks to the Parks Department, which saw a 47 percent decline in payouts since 2008 for incidents typically involving falling trees limbs — standing at $15.8 million from a high of almost $30 million.
The Department of Environmental Protection, which often handles claims on sewer overflows, drop by more than 140 in the last year.
“Claims are really a leading indicator of problems with an agency,” Stringer said, “and the numbers are an indication that these agencies are taking risk management seriously.”