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City Paid Out $1.45B in Settlements In Fiscal Year 2023

The City paid the most to settle special education and police claims.
City Comptroller Brad Lander on March 11, 2024.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander today released the Annual Claims Report, summarizing claims filed against and settled by the City during 2023 fiscal year (July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023).

There were 13,227 claims and lawsuits against New York City that were resolved for $1.45 billion in FY 2023 — down 7% from the $1.56 billion paid out for the 12,188 claims settled in FY 2022, according to a news release.

Special education settlements totaled $397 million, while claims against the New York City Police Department totaled $266.7 million, according to the report.

The comptroller suggested settlements in the future should be paid from agency budgets to incentivize each agency to implement reforms that would reduce claims payouts.

“The $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds we paid last year to settle claims against the City is $1.5 billion we could have spent in our schools and neighborhoods,” said Lander. “But right now, City agencies aren’t held accountable for those claims, so they have no incentive to reduce them. City Hall should shift responsibility for claims payments from the City’s general fund to agency budgets, in order to hold agencies accountable, encourage reforms, and save taxpayer dollars. 

Some key findings include:

NYPD Claims Account for Largest Share of Tort Claims 

In FY 2023, the City paid out $739.6 million in personal injury and property damage claims (collectively “tort claims”), a $1.8 million increase from the previous year’s payout of $737.8 million.

Some FY 2023 tort claims trends include: 

  • 6,891 claims against the New York City Police Department (NYPD), a 50% increase from 4,588 claims in FY 2022. FY 2023 was the first time the number of tort claims against the NYPD increased from a previous year since FY 2014. 
    • NYPD settlements totaled $266.7 million, a 12% increase from $239.1 million in FY 2022 (but still 21% below the high of $338.2 million in FY 2017). 
  • 1,352 claims against Department of Education (DOE), a 17% increase from 1,153 claims in FY 2022. 
    • DOE settlements totaled $92.8 million, a 12% increase from $82.6 million in FY 2022.  
    • 19 of the DOE settlements were payouts of $1 million or more — 13 of which were sexual assault cases revived by the Child Victims Act. 
  • 1,693 motor vehicle crash claims, a 14% increase from 1,480 claims in FY 2022.

Of the ten largest individual tort claims against the city in FY 2023, six settlements were for reversed convictions, two for excessive police force, one for medical malpractice and one because of negligent roadway design. 

The NYPD ($266.7 million), DOE ($92.8 million), Department of Transportation ($91.2 million), Department of Sanitation ($75.4 million), and Health + Hospitals ($54.5 million) were the five agencies with the highest tort claim settlement and judgment costs in FY 2023.  

Special Education Accounts for Largest Share of Law Settlements 

In FY 2023, the City paid out $708.9 million in law claims, a 14% decrease from the $821.6 million in law claims paid out in FY 2022. Eighty-nine percent of all law claim settlements and judgments and 56% of total law claim payouts were for special education tuition and/or services reimbursement (including attorneys’ fees claims) in FY 2023.

The City paid out:  

  • $397 million in special education settlements, a 31% increase from the $303.5 million paid out in FY 2022 and continuing the 10-year trend of increasing payments on special educations claims.  
    • When the City fails to provide legally mandated special education services to children directly, families can file "Carter claims" that can result in a legal judgment or settlement requiring the City to provide services or pay the costs to families to arrange these services. 
    • Read more in the Comptroller’s Course Correction report on special education services claims. 
  • $260.8 million in salary settlements — including $218.8 million resulting from judgments in the Gulino case, a 1996 class action that alleges DOE’s use of two New York State mandated teacher certification examinations had a disparate impact on Black and Latino teachers. 

  • $44.3 million in contract settlements — 98% ($43.2 million) stem from eight delay claim settlements, where contractors alleged the City bore responsibility for construction project delays. 

The full report can be found here