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(NYT) — The $3.25 million settlement that the city announced this week with the estate of Sean Bell, who was shot to death by the police in 2006, serves as a reminder of a ruthless truth about calculating settlements: It is generally cheaper to settle a case in which there was a death than one in which there was a serious injury.

“Many times when people come into my office,” said Susan M. Karten, a lawyer who has handled high-profile cases involving police misconduct, “I have to explain that when a person is shot and dies in some incident, their case is worth little under New York law, but if that same person who was shot lives and suffers some horrible injury, that can be worth millions.”

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