First the Post Writes a Pro tort reform article and suggests the city should
be immune from suit:
It’s a case the city just can’t win — in Albany.
The city Law Department and taxpayer advocates have argued for years that
statewide tort reform would save more than $100 million in government
spending a year — but one legislator remains as both judge and jury
“The problem boils down to two words: Sheldon Silver,” sad
American Tort Reform Association spokesman Darren McKinney.
“He is certainly the commander in chief of the [trial-lawyer] forces
that are aligned solidly against any hint of civil-justice reforms,”
McKinney added, “as they feather their own nests and perpetuate
a racket that has been going on in New York state — the crumbling
former Empire State — for far too long.”
It was revealed last week that Assembly Speaker Silver makes up to $450,000
annually as an “of counsel” lawyer to Weitz & Luxenberg,
a personal-injury law firm that sues New York City on behalf of its clients.
That’s twice as much as Silver’s salary for running the legislative body.
Last year, the city shelled out $506 million in litigant payouts.
The Law Department is inundated with 7,000 lawsuits a year, the majority
of which deal with personal injuries, ranging from kids getting hurt in
school to pedestrians slipping on sidewalks.
“We are brought into every lawsuit because we are a deep pocket,”
Law Department Tort Chief Fay Leoussis told The Post.
The city has lobbied Albany for “many years” for a handful
of common-sense reforms for civil-lawsuit litigation, or tort reform,
Leoussis said, but the effort “hasn’t gone anyplace.”
With the following reforms, Leoussis said, the city could save millions:
JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY
A drunken driver racing at 90 mph on a city street hits a pothole, flipping
Shockingly, if the injured driver sues the city, taxpayers could get stuck
with paying all of his economic damages — even if he’s 99
percent at fault and the pothole accounts for just 1 percent of the blame.
“We call those ‘1 percent cases,’ ” Leoussis explained,
“because you could have 1 percent liability and have to pay 100
percent of the economic cost.”
The law has been changed in 42 states. In those states, the government
pays only 1 percent of the damages if a defendant is only 1 percent liable.
“Not so in New York,” Leoussis said.
In the tragic Dec. 4, 2000, case of off-duty firefighter Derek Kuhland,
a motorist going twice the speed limit struck him as he crossed Queens
Boulevard at 55th Street.
The accident left Kuhland with a traumatic brain injury and quadriplegia.
He sued the city and the driver, Roberto Lewis — who was speeding
at 61 mph on the 30-mph road — for his permanent disabilities.
An NYPD van fatally struck a pedestrian in Williamsburg yesterday, police said.
Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway from north to south at the intersection
of Hooper Street at around 4:30 p.m. when the marked police vehicle struck
him, police said.
The cops were headed southbound on Hooper Street and making a left turn
onto Broadway at the time of the accident, police said.
The victim was just two blocks from his Hewes Street home when he was hit.
Coss, who suffered severe head trauma, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital,
where he later died, cops said.
Police were still investigating the cause of the accident late last night.
It was not immediately known whether or not the pedestrian was crossing
against the light, cops said.
This Story was then followed up today:
No Rap for cop in deadly hit
- By AMBER SUTHERLAND
- Last Updated: 3:55 AM, July 8, 2013
- Posted: 1:19 AM, July 8, 2013
A Spanish teacher who was hit and killed by a marked police van in Williamsburg
had the right of way — but the plainclothes cop driving the vehicle
is not likely to be charged, sources said.
“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” a police source told The Post.
Felix Coss, 61, had the pedestrian signal as he finished crossing Broadway
at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, sources said.
The veteran female officer was making a left-hand turn from Hooper Street
to Broadway and failed to see the Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with
Children Charter School, a source said. Coss was rushed to Bellevue Hospital,
where he was pronounced dead:
FELIX COSSTeacher had right of way.
No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected, police said.
Valerie Davis-Fells, assistant principal at the school where Coss taught,
said the single man was like her children’s godfather.
“This is a great loss to our family,” she said.