A new analysis published by the New York City comptroller’s office shows there were 2,245 personal injury correctional facility claims filed against the city’s Department of Correction in fiscal year 2014 which ended in June. That figure represents a 37 percent increase over fiscal year 2013 and a 114 percent increase since 2009.
The city paid nearly $8 million for personal injury correctional facility settlements and judgments in fiscal year 20114, up 34 percent since 2009.
The analysis was published Wednesday in a “ClaimStat Alert” report by the comptroller’s office. (Correctional facility claims are claims filed by inmates or employees of city correction facilities who were allegedly injured by the actions of city employees or inmates.) The data comes from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s new ClaimStat program that launched in July.
The ClaimStat program is designed to track thousands of personal injury claims and lawsuits filed annually against various New York City agencies and analyze claims data to flag troubling patterns as they occur. The program is modeled after the New York City Police Department’s CompStat program which tracks the types and locations of crimes to help respond to high-crime areas.
The “ClaimStat Alert” report said the rise in claims activity against the city’s Department of Correction corresponds to a rise in the number of serious allegations of violence at Rikers Island, one of the largest jail complexes in the U.S.
“The culture of violence detailed in recent reports on Rikers Island has made it clear that we are potentially facing a humanitarian crisis in our city’s largest jail,” Comptroller Stringer said in a statement.
“My ClaimStat Alert on the Department of Correction shows a startling rise in claims across many of our city’s jails over the past five years,” Stringer said. “Reducing violence in our jails is critically important, not only for inmates and Correction employees, but for taxpayers who are on the hook for millions of dollars in settlements and judgments every year.”
In its earlier report last month, the comptroller’s office said the ClaimStat program is an ongoing initiative that drills down on the thousands of claims that are first reported to the comptroller’s office to identify patterns and practices that lead to lawsuits against the city agencies. The city allocates hundreds of millions of dollars annually for claims filed against city agencies.
The comptroller’s office noted that New York City’s executive budget for fiscal year 2015 has set aside $674 million to pay settlements and judgments from lawsuits brought against the City of New York. That translates to more than $80 per New York City resident devoted to claims ranging from falling tree limbs and unfilled potholes, to medical malpractice and civil rights violations. These costs are projected to rise over the next four years to $782 million by fiscal year 2018.
In fiscal year 2013, the New York City Police Department had 9,500 claims filed against it, and the settlements and judgments against NYPD in fiscal year 2013 totaled $137.2 million, the highest of any agency, the New York City comptroller’s office said.