New York, Occupy Wall Street Settle Books Lawsuit for $232k

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on April 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

NYC librarians can quietly rejoice as Occupy Wall Street's "People's Library" settled a federal lawsuit with the city over the destruction of 2,800 books during a police raid on Zuccotti Park in late 2011.

The $232,000 Occupy settlement has raised a few eyebrows because of where the bulk of the money is going.

On Tuesday, the city agreed to pay $232,000 to settle the lawsuit brought by Occupy Wall Street's "People's Library" for the destruction of the thousands of books during a police raid in lower Manhattan, the New York Daily News reports.

However, only about $47,000 is going towards covering the costs of the books. The rest of the money, about $185,000, is going to the attorneys who brought the lawsuit last year.

Some might smirk at the appearance of a populist victory for Occupy Wall Street, since the bulk of the award is going to attorneys' fees. One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Norman Siegel, retorted, "This is not just about the money. It is about holding the city accountable."

Attorneys' fees are always a hot-button issue. Lawyers can easily demand a 40% cut of any settlement you get, which seems staggering. However, many lawyers would say the workload quite literally fits the bill. Attorneys incur many overhead expenses associated with court filings, research and writing, access to legal research tools, and staffing costs, among others. This is especially true for large, high-profile cases like the Occupy Wall Street book destruction lawsuit.

As for Siegel's belief that this was about accountability, the city was technically required to take some accountability for The Great Book Massacre. A public shaming admission was part of the settlement since the city had to admit that it was "unfortunate" that the books had been destroyed, the Daily News reports. It's not the most dramatic admission, but it's pretty rare for the city to acknowledge aggressive tactics used by the police.

The more important feature of the books settlement is that it may have helped other lawsuits related to the Occupy Wall Street police raid gain momentum. Apart from the book settlement, NYC also agreed to shell out another $133,000 to settle two other lawsuits stemming from the raid, reports The Daily News. Those lawsuits deal with members of the protest movement evicted from the park after a lengthy encampment.

Alas, the real losers are the sullied books themselves. They were carted away by the Sanitation Department.

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