Settle! Settle! Settle!

CITY OF CORAL SPRINGS NEVER GOES TO COURT

Score : Coral Springs 0    Plaintiffs 28
Taxpayers: -$939K

Updated August 21, 2001.  First appeared September 7,2000

On September 9, 1999 Sara Alvarez was walking her dog in the 5100 block of Kensington Circle. Ms Alvarez tripped over a concrete sidewalk, which had lifted above the other adjoining sidewalk and broke her left arm and injured her left shoulder. Ms.Alvarez claimed that the sidewalk was uneven approximately ½ to 2 inches. Ms.Alvarez’s husband filed a claim for loss of consortium.

Prior to this incident, the City’s Public Works Department had been notified (on July 23,1999) by a resident of the defect in the sidewalk. The sidewalk repair did not occur until September 16th, seven days after Ms. Alvarez’ fall. An investigator was contracted by Florida League of Cities, the City’s Insurance Administrator, to conduct an investigation of the area and the investigator concluded that the sidewalk was raised approximately ½ to 2 inches at the time of the injury. It was further determined that the City had notification of the defect in the sidewalk prior to Ms. Alvarez’ fall. Ms. Alvarez broke her left arm in two places and her physician described the injury as an acute open radius and ulna fracture. Medical treatment costs were $25,447.29 Ms.Alvarez received a 10% impairment rating on September 20, 2000 with the possibility that Ms. Alvarez may have to undergo another surgery to remove the hardware in her left arm in the future.

The City’s Insurance Carrier concluded that the City had exposure regarding this incident. Pursuant to the Florida League of Cities Municipal Insurance Trust Indemnity Agreement, the League negotiated a settlement between the City of Coral Springs and the Plaintiffs, Sara and Antonio Alvarez for $70,000.00, in exchange for a general release of all claims and dismissal of the lawsuit.

They  successfully  sued the City for its involvement.  Once again the City of Coral Springs was asked to settle a case rather than fight it  and once again Coral Springs  taxpayers had to foot the bill.

The City Commissioners claim that there is nothing wrong with settling these cases. They say that the risk to go to court is too great financially and they herald their efforts as saving the taxpayers money.

Shouldn’t a city stand for what is right and not give in to the possible extortion efforts of those that sue the city needlessly knowing that they will collect something? When you settle every law suit, all of them, all of the time and you rarely fight them in court you become an easy target.  Eighteen  cases were settled last year and so far 10 cases this year. None were ever brought before the court. Was the city at fault in every case? With the total expenditures in lawsuit settlements  last year at  $1,782,364, and the total spent this year to date being over $869,815.90, the question is does the City ever fight any case?  According to the minutes of the commission meetings the outside attorneys representing the city have yet to actually  go to trial and defend the City in any of the cases.   Settlement seems to be their only course of action.  It is easy to settle a case when it’s not your money. It is even easier knowing as an attorney for our city that you will get paid no matter what.

To prove my point, here is a list of cases settled so far and their respective links to information about them.  Click on the underlined Plaintiff and you will get to the information that the City of Coral Springs has on the case. Two of the cases this year do not have associated links as the city has failed to publish their information.

I’m not saying that every case deserves to be brought to court, or that some of the above items deserved settlement given the circumstances. The score is Coral Springs 0 , Plaintiffs 28.

See for yourselves:

Lawsuits 2001:

Commission Meeting Date

Plaintiff

Settlement Amount
08/21/2001 Sara and Antonio Alvarez $70,000
07/17/2001 Mary and Thomas George 27,500
06/05/2001 Ruth Levine $62,500
06/05/2001 Anthony Lamberti  $52,796
04/17/2001 LAWRENCE KERNS $96,000
04/17/2001 LAWRENCE LUSTIG $30,000
03/20/2001 STEVEN TROJA $50,000
03/20/2001 MICHAEL GILES $80,000
02/20/2001 ERIN DONOFRIO $19,019.90
02/06/2001 MARY MC GLYNN $432,000
02/06/2001 ROBERT WHITING, III $20,000
TOTAL TO DATE 2001 $939,815.90

 

Lawsuits 2000:

12/19/2000 ANATOLIO CHIMAL AND EVANGELINA BERNAL $62,500
12/04/2000 DAVID D’INATALE $27,500
11/7/2000 1740 VENTURES, ET AL: ????
9/5/2000 Match Point 1,235,000
9/5/2000 Denise Giuidici 13,853
7/18/2000

Harry Levine

7,500
7/11/2000 Brandon Sweeting 15,000
7/11/2000 Eckerds 55,000
7/11/2000 Upton’s 35,000
6/20/2000 Ross Stores 100,000
4/18/2000 Christopher and Marie Guarino 7,500
4/18/2000 A. F. Dozer, Inc., and Royal Palm Property Management, Inc 9,000
4/4/2000 Scott Heysler’s 90,000
4/4/2000 Marcia Schultz 25,000
3/21/2000 James Reddy’s 65,000
3/21/2000 Michael Rothenberg 7,969
2/15/2000 Helene and Herbert Rippe 100,000
2/1/2000 Nancy O’Leary 16,543
Total 2000 1,872,365

Author: HelpMeHoward