“A Coney Island businessman is suing the city for damaging the Bentley he was driving when he killed a Brooklyn dad in a hit-and-run accident. Harry Shasho, who pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, says the NYPD failed to safeguard the battered black 2005 Bentley GT luxury sedan that was impounded as evidence of the fatal crash. He’s asking for at least $190,000.” However, Shasho “denied filing a lawsuit” when contacted by a Daily News reporter. (John Marzulli, New York Daily News, Aug. 24).
I’m going to take a wild guess here and speculate that Shasho’s auto insurer will turn out to have been a force in the decision to sue. Under most property insurance policies, after paying a loss the insurer reserves the right to go after third parties it thinks it can be blamed, and the policyholder must up to a reasonable point cooperate in such lawsuits (which may be filed in the policyholder’s name). The insurer needn’t and probably won’t take into its calculations the effect of such a suit on its policyholder’s reputation, which in this case for Shasho include being called “shameless” and worse in the comments section at Gothamist. Such insurer-prompted suits on behalf of wrongdoers are fairly common, and should be kept analytically distinct from the (also fairly common) situations where the wrongdoer himself decides to sue and is the one to pocket any proceeds.