ZURIK: Council allocates $9 million to pay unpaid judgments following FOX 8 investigations

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 7:44 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council has decided to allocate $9 million to repay victims who have sued the city and won but haven’t been paid.

The city owes more than $36 million to hundreds of claimants. Some of the judgments date back decades. For years, the city hasn’t allocated enough money to pay those claims.

An obscure provision in the Louisiana constitution says no one can force an entity to allocate money. While FOX 8 found most municipalities across the state pay what they owe, several New Orleans entities owe millions.

The New Orleans budget usually sets aside $2 million to pay claims, however, the council had a surplus of money this year, and decided to move millions more to pay down judgments.

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FOX 8 spoke to several victims who have spent years suffering, waiting for what they’re owed.

Councilmember Joe Giarrusso III calls paying down the claims a moral obligation. He says he hopes setting aside about a fourth of what the city owes in one year will show victims the city is serious about paying down the debts. “We have so much money right now, the judgment list is up to $36 or $37 million and we just thought knocking it down by a quarter was a really good amount to start showing people in good faith that we’re really trying to tackle it and make sure it gets reduced,” Giarusso said.

The city’s law department will get the money next year. Giarusso says they’ll then start working their way down the unpaid judgment list. He says the council plans to check in quarterly to track the payment process.

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