SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – When faced with lawsuits, public entities are often on the hook for liability settlement. The state has a fund to cover those payouts, which usually include settlements for alleged civil rights violations and medical malpractice claims. But over the last fiscal year, New Mexico’s payouts doubled, according to the Legislative Finance Committee.
The committee analyzed data from the state’s Sunshine Portal, which provides a range of data on state-level spending. The portal recently received scrutiny for not transparently disclosing all settlements. Still, an analysis of data from the portal showed that in fiscal year 2022, the state spent $14.1 million in payouts. In fiscal year 2023, there was $28 million in payouts.
The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) says the jump came primarily from two big civil rights settlements against New Mexico State University. The school settled an $8 million hazing lawsuit against former basketball players in June of this year.
In addition to increased civil rights settlement, the state has also seen a rise in general liability and medical malpractice payouts. Malpractice claims, mostly against University of New Mexico-run hospitals, rose from $6 million in fiscal year 2022 to $8.3 million in fiscal year 2024, the LFC report notes.