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City Reaches $5.9 Million Settlement with Family of Eric Garner

Friday, July 17, 2015

On Monday, July 13th, New York City reached a settlement in the amount of $5.9 million with the family of Eric Garner, due to his wrongful death on July 17, 2014 after being put into a chokehold by a police officer. The death of Garner gained national attention in December of 2014 when the officer responsible for putting Garner in the chokehold was not indicted by a grand jury.

The total of $5.9 million awarded to the family as a result of the settlement is considered to be fairly large for a wrongful death settlement, which typically takes into account two key factors: economic loss, and conscious pain and suffering. The total economic loss endured by the distributees of his estate as a result of the wrongful death is determined by a variety of factors, including the decedent’s profession, future earning prospects, age, and financial contribution to his family all factor into how much compensation can be earned in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The second key factor, Mr. Garner’s pain and suffering may have played a key role in the settlement negotiations, as a widely viewed video clearly depicted Eric Garner repeatedly claiming that he couldn’t breathe while being restrained by police officers.

The settlement of the Eric Garner case is part of a larger overall strategy by Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, of settling major civil rights cases before a lawsuit is filed so as to save taxpayers the expense, and families the pain, of a long legal process. Stringer has acknowledged that financial compensation would not bring Eric Garner back, but hoped that the settlement finally gave the family a sense of closure.

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