New York Daily News

September 25, 2014


 

Police union chief wants New York to adopt no-settlement policy to stop 'quick buck' civil lawsuits

 

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association released a letter that its President Patrick Lynch wrote to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and the city's top lawyer, suggesting that the city stop settling 'meritless civil lawsuits' against cops.  

BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, TINA MOORE

JESSE WARD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wants the city to stop settling 'meritless civil lawsuits' against police officers.

The head of the largest NYPD union wants the city to adopt a no-settlement policy regarding civil lawsuits against cops, to put an end to what he calls “quick-buck” legal actions.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch called on city Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to stop settling “meritless civil lawsuits,” arguing that doing so invites court filings that are motivated by a perceived easy payday.

“We’re saying, ‘Take on a position of fighting every one of these cases,’” Lynch said. “They affect a police officer’s career.”

“We want the opportunity to articulate why we made an arrest, why we made that stop,” added Lynch.

A copy of a letter Lynch had sent to Carter on Aug. 13 was released on Monday in reaction to an exclusive Daily News report that the city paid out $1.29 million to settle 26 out of 29 total suits against NYPD Detective Peter Valentin. An investigation by The News earlier this year revealed Valentin was the most-sued cop in the NYPD, which has more than 34,000 members.

The News also reported previously that the number of claims against the NYPD doubled over the past decade, to a record high of 9,570 filed in 2012. The suits cost taxpayers more than $1 billion during the 10-year period. Last year suits against the NYPD cost the city $96.3 million, and settlement numbers are trending upward this year.

In March, Valentin was transferred from the Bronx Narcotics detail and placed on modified duty after an Internal Affairs Bureau probe found he and three other members of his team were conducting questionable raids.

Lynch’s letter cites a report detailing how suits filed against the Chicago Police Department dropped 50% from 2009 to 2010 after that city adopted a no-settlement policy.

But Carter argued the policy is not a successful legal strategy, and noted Lynch had requested the same of his predecessor in 2011.

“The ‘no-settle’ policy that Mr. Lynch again proposes has not stood the test of time in the jurisdiction he cites,” Carter said.

“We will continue to evaluate the facts and merits of each individual case and settle litigation only when doing so is in the best interests of the city, including its interest in protecting police officers from frivolous lawsuits.”

tmoore@nydailynews.com