— NM Cops and Courts Beat Guide

Tort claims often result in lawsuits and lawsuits (and some tort claims) often end with settlement agreements.

Entities enter into settlement agreements to, well, settle claims. Settlement agreements are so important because almost every time, they include the dollar amount an entity (or its insurance company) paid to settle a lawsuit or claim.

When a lawsuit has been dismissed with prejudice, following a stipulated motion, that usually means there is a settlement agreement.

For every court case you think has settled, you should request the settlement agreement.

This is, of course, dependent on who the insurer is.

If the insurer is the Risk Management Division, there is a 90-day hold placed on the documents.

Some more complex agreements require entities to take certain actions. Think of the consent decree the Albuquerque Police Department entered with the Department of Justice for all of its police shootings.

Just like with tort claims and lawsuits, it is advisable to track this information in a spreadsheet.

The settlement amount can easily be a column in a spreadsheet tracking lawsuits, tort claims, or both.

However, pay attention to the line about attorneys fees. Often, a settlement agreement will state that each party will bear its own attorney fees, which means that the actual amount received by the plaintiff as a result of the settlement is much lower than the amount being proffered.

Please keep in mind that New Mexico courts have consistently found that even if an entity entered into an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) as a condition of a settlement agreement, courts have repeatedly found that IPRA supercedes any non-disclosure agreements and this cannot be used to hide records.

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