The City of Chicago has shelled out $169 million in lawsuit settlements under Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- nearly triple the amount paid in the final two years of former Mayor Richard Daley's tenure, according to a new report by the Sun-Times.
Cash-strapped and with crumbling credit, Stephen Patton, the city's corporation counsel, said Emanuel is looking to cut the city's losses and settle quickly on cases taxpayers would likely lose anyway.
“We’re settling cases we inherited ... In addition, we’ve accelerated the recognition of liability. So, we’re getting it on both ends. We’re clearing a lot of brush and bad things away from the past and doing something that will save money over the longer haul. But, it’s not saving us money short-term,” Patton told the Sun-Times noting Emanuel inherited 1,000 police cases when he took office.
Many of the city's most expensive lawsuits have stemmed from police brutality and misconduct cases like former Police Commander Jon Burge and Anthony Abbate, the police officer caught beating a bartender on tape in an attack that prompted a trial on the city's police "code of silence."
Several of the city's suits, however, involve repeat offenders within the department. A previous investigation by the Chicago Reporter found nearly a third of police misconduct cases from January 2009 and November 2011 -- before Emanuel's administration -- involved cops who had been previously named in investigations.
Misconduct by city workers has cost taxpayers a bundle as well.
Monday, a judge ordered the city to pay $2.4 million to a man injured by Dwight Washington, a municipal worker who was driving a city-owned truck while drunk. Washington, who is now in jail, plowed into a sidewalk and injured seven pedestrians in May 2011.
The city agreed to pay out $6.25 million last year to settle another case stemming from the same crash.