How much of your tax money is going to claims and litigation? We asked San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose for all their legal payouts from January 1, 2007 through October 2011. These included claims and lawsuits, as well as expenses associated with each case. The San Francisco total is over $212 million. Oakland comes in second with just under $50 million. San Jose said they paid out just over $10 million.
San Francisco’s City Attorney’s Office took exception to any comparison. It said San Francisco is “a unique beast” because it's a city and county. So, we asked Alameda and Santa Clara County for their numbers, too. Alameda spent about $38 million and Santa Clara said it paid out just under $41 million during that same time frame. When you add the numbers up, they look like this:
San Francisco = $212 million
Oakland/Alameda County = $88 million
San Jose/Santa Clara County = $51 million
Here’s where the numbers get interesting. San Francisco officials say San Jose may be larger when talking about population, but it is a smaller government. Oakland is smaller still in both population and government. Here’s how operational budgets breaks down:
City and County of San Francisco -- $6.8 billion
City of San Jose -- $2 billion
Santa Clara County -- $4 billion
Total -- $6 billion
City of Oakland -- $1 billion
Alameda County -- $2.4 billion
Total -- $3.4 billion
When you look at the city/county budgets along with the legal payouts, it plays out like this:
City and County of San Francisco -- 3% of the total budget
City of San Jose /Santa Clara County -- 0.8% of total budget
City Oakland/Alameda County –- 2.5% of total budget
Personal injury attorney Doug Seltzer says, “When you have $200 million over 5 years being paid on totally preventable claims, the system is broken.”
By the way, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority paid $11,241,591.65 in claims and lawsuits in the last five years. This includes expenses.
No numbers from AC Transit yet.