One of New York’s prominent former prosecutors, who is a candidate for Staten Island district attorney filed a series of personal injury lawsuits against NYC for $5 million, despite the fact that she was barred from collecting due to her status as a public employee.
In 1994, Joan Illuzzi sued the city after she fell outside the courthouse located at 111 Centre St. in lower Manhattan. She sued the city again after being involved in a 1997 car crash where she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and her face was smashed into the windshield, the New York Post reports.
Illuzzi’s husband, attorney John Orbon also tried to sue in the second case, seeking $500,000 for “loss of companionship.” However, both cases were thrown out because of New York’s workers’ compensation law, which bars city employees from filing lawsuits for work-related injuries.
Illuzzi argued that though the city paid her salary, plus more than $22,000 in workers’ compensation and medical benefits, that she was technically an employee of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
In 2004, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulan ruled that since Illuzzi applied for and received city-paid workers’ compensation benefits for her work-related injuries, that her suit must be dismissed as a matter of law.
In Iluzzi’s first suit involving the fall outside of the courthouse, she filed a lawsuit against the city in Manahattan Supreme Court in 1995. In that suit, she sought $2 million in damages for a fall that she blamed on an improperly maintained sidewalk.
In the second suit, filed in 1998, she sought $3 million from the city, the NYPD, and from Detective Kevin Flanagan, who was driving their unmarked vehicle that collided with a bus.
When she was asked why she sued the city despite the fact that there were rules against it, she said that at the time, she didn’t really understand. She said it was a debate whether she was a city or a state employee.