“Cash, but Not Remedial Tools, in Wrongful-Death Settlements”

Here’s Jim Dwyer’s excellent New York Times essay on what should be, but isn’t, happening with the City’s wrongful death settlements:

Cash, but Not Remedial Tools, in Wrongful-Death Settlements – NYTimes.com.

He reminds me that it was years ago, when I worked for lawyers who pursued wrongful death and wrongful conviction and imprisonment lawsuits, that I first heard the idea that when such cases are brought to light, there should always be not only a settlement but an investigation into why such bad things happened.

The lawyer I worked for was the first, I believe, who compared such situations to plane crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board immediately sends investigators to the crash site to investigate what went wrong, so that whatever failed process or mechanics led to the catastrophe, changes could be instituted that would prevent it from happening again.

(It’s precisely why there is such agitation in eastern Ukraine about making sure an international cohort of investigators have open access to the Malaysian jet crash site − which they still haven’t gotten − and why there is such anger. If nations bound by law can’t openly investigate an untouched crash site, they can’t determine precisely how it happened, and if they can’t, they can’t prosecute the wrongdoers with the sort of legal integrity countries like ours require.)

So maybe the City will settle the Eric Garner wrongful death case even before a lawsuit. But where is the City’s version of the NTSB that will investigate what happened, what went wrong, and prompt procedure changes seeking to prevent it from happening again?

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