ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The City of Albuquerque paid out nearly $1.2 million to settle lawsuits against the city in the last six months of 2010. And one city councilor said some claims seem a bit excessive.
"It's very costly to the taxpayers of our community," said City Councilor Ken Sanchez.
From July to December 2010, the city settled 14 cases out of court, drawing $1.2 million from the city's risk fund. The risk fund is made up in part of revenues from tax dollars. A city spokesman wouldn't say how much is in the fund but said it ranges in the millions.
According to litigation reports, one woman walked away with $36,000 after "tripping and falling at the zoo, injuring her left ankle and left knee." Another man also pocketed $36,000 because he was "injured as a bus passenger when a bus driver suddenly applied brakes." And one resident settled for $250,000 after a "solid Waste Management Division vehicle rear-ended plaintiff's vehicle."
"It is troublesome that the taxpayers of our community are the ones paying for these settlements because they are basically negligent cases on part of city employees," said Sanchez.
Acting City Attorney Robert Kidd was unavailable for an interview on Sunday, but city spokesman Chris Ramirez said a legal team looks over the hundreds of cases filed against the city very thoroughly. Ramirez said if the claim seems bogus, the city will challenge it in court, but most officials agree that if a case has some ground, it may be cheaper to settle.
"We are hoping our litigation team is making the right decisions when they settle these cases," said Sanchez.
The Finance and Government Operations Committee will review the litigation reports at Monday's meeting before the full council approves them.
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