Bloomberg defends NYC's $735M lawsuit payouts

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is shown New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is shown in this file photo. (May 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg went on the defensive Tuesday after a report found the city has paid more than $700 million to settle lawsuits this year.

Bloomberg said the Big Apple's $735 million in settlements -- which is roughly six times the amount Los Angeles pays on average -- is because of state and national tort laws that handcuff city lawyers.

"We always have these big payments as long as the courts or juries can, no matter what the damage is, just say the city has a lot of money . . . they can pay," he said at an unrelated news conference.

Bloomberg News, which is owned by the mayor but operated independently, reported that the city settled on various cases so far, including malpractice in public hospitals, police brutality, improper arrests and accidents with city vehicles. The cost of those legal claims is expected to rise to $815 million by 2016, the report said.

The mayor said the suits don't represent a mismanagement by the city because municipal attorneys chose to settle because of the tort laws.

"We've been found liable for a single digit percentage of a problem but have to pay 100 percent of the judgment because the other people don't have the money. That's not fair," he said.

Bloomberg defended the NYPD, stating that the police have helped to keep crime low.

"They are an exceptionally well-managed police department and their results are phenomenal," he said.

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