Monday, July 26, 2004

New York City toughens strategy to cut tort liability costs

Crain's New York reports today that Corporation Counsel, the legal arm of the City of New York, have been attempting to cut its tort liability costs.   The results of the new strategy has been mixed.  The number of cases that are going to trial have declined to 136, compared to 210 the previous year.  The City is now settling more cases before trial.  The City is also subcontracting more of its legal work out to more outside counsel.

Recent jury changes have helped the City reduce its liability.  The courts' elimination of all professional exemptions from jury service, and the crackdown on no-shows, is changing the makeup of many juries--often in the city's favor.

In lead paint poisoning cases, it has become harder to sue the City of New York for its perfomance of its inspectors in failing to detect lead paint.

However, the gains are small given the size of the lawsuits brought against the City.  There are currently 36,500 lawsuits pending against the City.