NYPD Fights Back: New York City Law Department Announces New Unit Focused On Defending Police Misconduct Cases Filed in State Court

The New York City Law Department recently announced the creation of a new division devoted to fighting lawsuits claiming police brutality, false arrest, wrongful imprisonment, excessive force, and equal protection and due process violations that are filed in New York State courts.

The division will be modeled on the Law Department’s Special Federal Division, which was formed to combat similar cases filed against the NYPD and other government agencies in federal courts. Because many police misconduct cases cost the city more to litigate than to settle, several years ago the Law Department implemented a general policy of settling cases seeking relatively small sums of money. While the policy was cost-effective on a case-by-case basis, the city claims that once local attorneys caught wind of the policy, a so-called “cottage industry” emerged of lawyers who filed questionable police misconduct cases because they knew they would probably receive a settlement, even if their cases were weak.

According to the New York City Comptroller, from 2007 to 2011 the amount of “citywide police action claims” rose from nearly 2,500 to just over 4,500, an increase of approximately 80%, and the amount the city spent on settlements given to victims of police brutality each year more than doubled, from $25.5 million to nearly $60 million.

Testifying at a City Council budget meeting, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, who heads the Law Department, noted the borough with the largest recent increase in state court police brutality cases is the Bronx, a trend perhaps explained by the NYPD’s controversial—and, according to a Federal District Judge, possibly unconstitutional (could link to Ligon blog article, if that would be helpful)—Stop and Frisk program there. Mr. Cardozo and other New York City officials hope the new legal division will save the city money by successfully defending NYPD Officers, Corrections Officers, and other government agencies and officials against lawsuits claiming constitutional violations and abuse.

In other words, the New York City Law Department has rededicated itself to fighting police misconduct lawsuits in both state and federal courts: individual victims of police misconduct, who are entitled to monetary damages, will have to fight harder for the justice they deserve. This makes hiring a knowledgeable New York City police misconduct lawyer even more important if you are a victim of police misconduct or abuse. If you are considering filing a lawsuit against prosecutors, corrections officers, or the police, we urge you to consider a free consultation with one of our experienced and dedicated attorneys who can examine your case and work with you to receive the compensation you deserve.