According to a report published by the Senate Fiscal Agency, the state of Michigan paid roughly $41.8 million in verdicts and settlements in the last fiscal year. This amount is substantially less than what Michigan taxpayers paid last year, but more than the average amount over the past decade.
Michigan doled out over $70 million for lawsuits in 2014, roughly $86 million in 2013, and over $76 million in the previous year. 2012 had a substantial swell in legal payments from 2011, in which the state paid roughly $16 million. In 2006, Michigan paid only $9.4 million. The significant jump from 2011 to 2012 was due to lawsuits over Michigan’s business taxes. Numbers lowered this year because there were no major payments for business tax cases.
However, the Michigan Department of Corrections is still paying for a $100 million class action settlement for allegations of sex abuse against corrections officers. State Department of Corrections-related lawsuits accounted for an estimated 33 percent of Michigan’s lawsuits last year. According to the report, however, the last payment in the aforementioned class action lawsuit was made in October 2014.
These ongoing payments demonstrate how the unlawful actions and missteps of state leaders and employees can become costly for Michigan taxpayers. For example, last year, the state’s police department paid almost $8 million, almost all of which was furnished to settle a wrongful death lawsuit after a police officer killed a driver during a high-speed chase.
Since 1983, Michigan has paid almost $237 million in cases alleging injuries resulting from negligent maintenance of state highways. Last year, however, the state only paid $5,500 to settle a case in which the plaintiff fell and was injured on a Michigan highway.
Last year, Michigan paid almost $1.5 million to settle six cases in which the plaintiffs alleged harassment or discrimination by their state-employed supervisors.
The report also demonstrates that sometimes residents pay for Michigan’s policy choices. For example, Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management & Budget dispensed $3.5 million for lawsuits last year. The largest sum — $1.9 million — was paid to the winning attorneys in Obergefell v. Hodges, the gay marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
Last year, Michigan paid $310,000 in attorney fees. A large sum was paid with regard to a 2008 case alleging deficiencies in the Michigan foster care system. In response to the lawsuit, Michigan hired additional caseworkers and altered how it provides health care within the foster care system.
Some departments have learned from their past shortcomings and begun implementing their own reforms. For example, the Michigan Department of Corrections has administered a post-litigation review process to pinpoint areas of risk and potential policy and procedure changes.
Policy changes, coupled with the fact that major settlements and judgments have been paid off, suggest that legal fees in the current year are likely to decrease. However, the contaminated water lawsuit in Flint could alter this prediction. The lawsuit alleges that dangerous levels of lead infiltrated Flint’s water, due to Michigan’s failure to prevent pipe corrosion. Governor Rick Snyder’s legal defense is already costing taxpayers approximately $6,500 per day, and this is before any potential settlement or judgment.
The personal injury attorneys at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents throughout Michigan from offices in Traverse City and Grand Rapids. Call us at (231) 463-0122 or at (616) 717-5666 for a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Michigan Appeals Court Agrees That Expert in Medical Malpractice Case Lacked Sufficient Expertise, Upholds Dismissal of Complaint, Neumann Law Group, August 1, 2016.
Michigan Appeals Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Claim for Personal Injury Protection Benefits Due to Fraudulent Statement, Neumann Law Group, July 20, 2016.
Georgia Woman Files Suit Against Michigan Body Armor Company for Failing to Save Officer Husband, Neumann Law Group, July 6, 2016.
Michigan Supreme Court Holds Accidental Shooting Victim’s Negligence Claim Fails as A Matter of Law, Neumann Law Group, June 15, 2015.