Tags: Eric Garner | Bill de Blasio

Report: NYC Comptroller Seeks Settlement in Garner Lawsuit

Image: Report: NYC Comptroller Seeks Settlement in Garner Lawsuit
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 03:20 PM

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer is attempting to avoid a lengthy and potentially bitter federal trial by seeking to negotiate a settlement of a $75 million civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of Eric Garner, reports The New York Times.

While the comptroller's office usually does not become involved in major lawsuits, Stringer has moved to intervene earlier in the process.

Stringer told the Times that early settlement of the lawsuit would be in the financial interest of New York City, which spent $732 million in settlements and judgments in the fiscal year ending in June, an increase of $208 million from the prior year.

“If we’re successful in lowering the cost of settlements and judgments and lessening the impact of years of litigation on the city and these families, we’ll be able to channel money into public housing and education,” he said in an interview.

Stringer was elected independent of fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose office effectively would be shut out of the negotiations if the lawsuit is settled early.

While de Blasio has been outspoken since a grand jury declined to press charges against a police officer who placed Garner in a fatal chokehold, he has been silent about the civil racketeering lawsuit aimed at bootleg cigarettes which the city recently filed, according to a New York Post report.

Although de Blasio has characterized the selling of illegal cigarettes as a "minor offense" when discussing the crime Eric Garner had allegedly committed at the time of his death, his administration views it differently.

On Dec. 9, the City's Law Department filed the suit in Brooklyn federal court, but the mayor's office intervened to ensure a press release was not issued.

The lawsuit is the result of a seven-month investigation into the sale of illegal cigarettes conducted jointly by the New York Police Department and the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A draft press release obtained by the Post's sources, however described the racketeering lawsuit as "the first of its kind brought by the city against an out-of-state entity for supplying cigarette traffickers.”

“City Hall knew they had screwed up, so they squashed the press release. You can’t have the mayor blabbing away that selling loosies is a ‘minor offense,’ but then have the Law Department, which represents and protects the city and the mayor’s interests, file this suit,” a city official told the Post.

The Law Department was far more public in September when it announced it had reached a $5 million settlement with a Virginia-based package service accused of delivering untaxed cigarettes, reported Crain's New York Business Journal.

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New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer is attempting to avoid a lengthy and potentially bitter federal trial by seeking to negotiate a settlement of a $75 million civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of Eric Garner, reports The New York Times.
Eric Garner, Bill de Blasio
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2014-20-17
Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 03:20 PM
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