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June 17, 2016

The Bronx is the lawsuit capital of NYC

By Michael Gartland
The Bronx is the lawsuit capital of NYC

It’s relatively small, but when it comes to suing the city, no borough is bigger than The Bronx.

New data released Thursday by Comptroller Scott Stringer shows that 7,442 claims for personal injury and property damage were filed in the second-smallest borough by population in fiscal 2015.

That’s 503 more than the 6,939 filed in Brooklyn, home to about 1 million more residents.

The borough imbalance was even greater when it came to personal-injury suits alone. In that category, The Bronx was the runaway champ, logging 6,065 claims, while Brooklyn was ­second with 4,952.

On a per capita basis, The Bronx rang up 417 personal-injury claims per 100,000 population. Manhattan was a distant second with 214.

Legal experts said the latest figures confirm what they’ve known for years — when it comes to getting a sympathetic jury, The Bronx is a plaintiff’s paradise.

Trial and jury consultant Marshall Hennington said one reason personal-injury lawyers do so well in The Bronx is because “disenfranchised” jurors often make decisions based on emotions rather than evidence.

“What a lot of lawyers try to do is appeal to jurors’ heartstrings because they know they’re gullible,” he said.

City Councilman Andrew ­Cohen (D-Bronx), a former attorney in Bronx Supreme Court, said he couldn’t say for sure why claims are so high in his ­borough.

But he acknowledged that personal-injury lawyers “come up with the most convoluted ways to bring a case” in the plaintiff-friendly borough.

“Any way they can figure out to find a nexus to bring a case in The Bronx, they’re going to do that,” he said. “Bronx people are generally poorer than in other parts of the city, so they might be more sympathetic to poor ­plaintiffs.”

The comptroller’s report also found that 27,321 new tort claims were filed against the city in the last fiscal year — a 6 percent ­decrease over the previous year.

Despite that dip, overall payouts citywide were up more than 4 percent — from $561 million in 2014 to $586 million in 2015.

“Every dollar that we spend to resolve claims is one less that we can put toward housing, infrastructure and vital services,” said Stringer.

“City agencies must take steps to improve their operations and reduce the incidents that lead to costly payouts.”

On another front, Stringer found that malpractice claims against the city’s hospital system jumped from 485 to 523.

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