New York City reaches $75 million settlement over police summonses

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 1:57 PM

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has agreed to pay up to $75 million to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing its police of engaging in a widespread pattern of issuing criminal summonses to individuals without probable cause in order to meet minimum quotas.

The deal, announced on Monday by the city's Law Department, would resolve a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court brought by several plaintiffs who claimed they were issued summonses without probable cause that were later dismissed.

Under the settlement, the New York Police Department will issue guidance to reiterate that the department does not use quotas to mandate that officers make a particular number of arrests, summonses or stops, a Law Department spokesman said.

The city will set aside $56.5 million to pay a maximum of $150 per person covered by the deal per incident, the Law Department said. Another $18.5 million would go towards paying attorneys' fees.

Any amount not claimed will revert back to the city, meaning the total payout could be significantly less, and the settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet. The city also continues to deny the allegations about a quota system.

The deal came on top of other reforms enacted under Mayor Bill de Blasio, who in June signed a law that would give the NYPD the ability to issue civil rather than criminal summonses for certain quality-of-life offences.

"This settlement reflects the remarkable progress the NYPD has made to ensure that summonses are properly drafted and include sufficient details to document probable cause," New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter said in a statement.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Filed in 2010, the lawsuit alleged that the NYPD officers engaged in a pattern and practice in which they stop, searched, arrested and issued summonses to individuals regardless of whether a crime or violation occurred.

Of the 2.29 million summonses adjudicated in the city's criminal courts from 2004 to 2009, nearly 1.19 million were dismissed, the bulk of which the plaintiffs said were dismissed after a judge found they were legally insufficient.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)