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Post date: April 30 2003

Spitzer Obtains $350 Million In Judgments, Other Recoveries In '02

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a record level of financial recoveries by his office on behalf of the state, its local governments and residents in 2002.

"I am committed to using the powers of the office to reduce the burden on New York taxpayers," Spitzer said. "In difficult fiscal times, it is imperative that we aggressively seek to recover monies owed to New York State and its residents, and I am pleased that my office has been able to achieve a record level of recoveries last year."

The Department of Law recovered $244 million for the state in 2002, including: $149 million in judgments; $52 million in penalties; $31 million in fees; and, $12 million in other payments. This represents a 42 percent increase from the amounts recovered in 2001.

In addition, Department of Law lawsuits and settlements resulted in the awards of over $108 million in restitution directly to New York residents, including $16 million in consumer cases, $16 million in charities cases, $13 million in labor cases, and $52 million in a variety of actions brought by the agency's 12 regional offices.

These amounts do not include payments from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) under which the major tobacco companies agreed to make annual payments to New York State, New York City and each of the 57 other counties in New York State. Tobacco revenues in 2002 included $489 million paid to New York State and $467 million paid to local governments, for a total of $956 million, which is a 24 percent increase over last year.

Total recoveries, including tobacco revenues, were $1.3 billion in 2002.

The comparison of the 2001 and 2002 financial recovery totals is as follows:

% Change
NYS judgments and settlements $ 124.7 million
$ 149.1 million
19.6 %
Other NYS recoveries $ 46.5 million
$ 94.6 million
103.4 %
NYS tobacco payments $ 395.3 million
$ 489.2 million
23.7 %
Total NYS recoveries $ 566.5 million
$ 732.9 million
29.4 %
Restitution to public $ 120.7 million
$ 108.7 million
- 9.9 %
NYC/County tobacco payments $ 377.1 million
$ 466.7 million
23.7 %
Total Public/Local Government
$ 497.8 million
$ 575.4 million
15.6 %
Total Recoveries $ 1.064 billion
$ 1.308 billion
22.9 %

Note: All of the above dollar figures include both amounts actually received and amounts ordered to be paid. Some of the court orders will result in payments in future years, while other amounts may not be collectible.

"While I am proud of the record recoveries this year, it is important to remember that most lawsuits handled by the Department of Law are defensive cases," the Attorney General noted. "Indeed, these affirmative recoveries actually pale in comparison to billions of dollars that the office saves each year through steadfast defense of the state."

The total budget for the Department of Law is about $190 million per year, of which about $120 million is generated by taxpayer funds. As a result, the $352 million in non-tobacco recoveries to New York State and the $1.3 billion in total recoveries constitute substantial net revenues to the state and its residents.