Windsor’s administrators want to increase the city’s lawsuit fighting budget. As reported in the Windsor Star on December 29, chief city administrator Onorio Colucci, in a rather cavalier fashion, speculated that society is becoming more litigious.
While Colucci blames taxpayers who have been wronged, a former senior Toronto bureaucrat puts the blame on her city.
If Windsor is anything like Toronto, and don’t think it doesn’t want to be, the city could be actually creating more opportunities for people to sue. This could be why more lawsuits are turning up at city hall. Because of this there needs to be an open and frank discussion at city council on why the city is being subjected to more law suits and not simply accepting whatever administration says.
Few details are ever released about the city’s lawsuits, probably because of confidentiality. Settlements are often reached before a case goes to trial, which also keeps details out of the courts where it could become public.
However, former Toronto Star reporter Eric Andrew-Gee was able to go deep on the situation in Hogtown, based on a successful freedom-of-information request.
On October 11, 2013, he reported many of the suits against Canada’s largest city can be traced to mismanagement. At the time, to settle civil lawsuits, Toronto paid out more, “than $200M since 2000, for everything from injury caused by trees to false arrest.”
Slipping and falling on public property is one of the biggest categories for lawsuits against the city. Since 2000, slips have resulted in 140 settlements, costing the city $5,230,771.35. – Andrew-Gee
Payouts, reported the Star, are getting richer and are directly linked to the city not doing its job.
Andrew-Gee talked to Shelley Carroll, Toronto’s budget chief from 2006 to 2010. Based on her experience, she confirmed, “poor city services were partly to blame for the number of settlements.”
In Toronto, almost, “one in four of the total tally – 773 – were related to road and sidewalk maintenance. Those settlements totaled $32,458,390.50.”
Windsor has poorly maintained roads. Is it reasonable to allege that bad roads are also a cause of a good percentage of Windsor’s legal battles? What is most disappointing is Colucci simply asking for more money rather than bringing a plan to Council to fix more roads, if only to lessen the likelihood of lawsuits.