Unofficial website about the WASHINGTON CITIES INSURANCE AUTHORITY, whose address is below
320 Andover Park East, Suite 104

Tukwila, WA 98188
... where integrity appears optional
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WCIA violates WA law, own contract
So-called 'Authority' defies state's authority

.....One would think that a Washington Cities Insurance Authority, or "Authority," that has adjusted tens of thousands of claims since 1981 would have the process down pat. Yet, when it came to an admittedly meritorious claim presented by Kevin Murphy to the City of Kirkland as a former nine-year police officer, the sought damages of "no less than $711,245.26" seem to have caused a since-departed WCIA executive director and a still-serving general counsel to lose command of their senses.

.....Instead of the Authority's "claims team" adjusting the city-forwarded claim, as mandated by governing Washington "claims settlement" law and the statute-bound provision in the Authority contract that, as a "responsibility," WCIA will "provide claims adjustment services,"  now-gone executive director Lew Leigh simply "denied" the claim.  (The word "denied" is in quotation marks because, logically, per state law, a claim cannot be denied without adjusting it.)  

.....As this page's "smoking gun" sidebar (to the right) addresses, Authority general counsel Mark Bucklin participated in a hijacking of the claim in which, instead of allowing the claims team to adjust it, it was decided through unholy discussion that WCIA would "defend against it."  Given that WCIA later acknowledged to Murphy that the fully supported $711K+ claim is both covered and meritorious, it's manifest that, had the Authority adjusted it (per law and contract), the Authority would have been obligated by Washington law to "effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlement" (payment).
"Authority general counsel Mark Bucklin
 participated in a hijacking  of the claim."

.....That didn't happen.  What did happen is that, (1) with Leigh, in violation of the WCIA contract, having assigned Bucklin as "defense counsel" to the city before the discussion that led to the claim's unlawful denial, and, thus, (2) before the so-called "denial" wrongfully triggered (compelled) WCIA-anticipated -- yet otherwise wholly unnecessary -- litigation by Murphy against the city, the fait accompli, court-abusing litigation earned more than $220K for Bucklin's namesake law firm, Keating, Bucklin & McCormack, for which, at the time, Bucklin was board chairman, president and managing shareholder.

To learn more about the outrageous conduct of Leigh and Bucklin,
follow the website's Skeletons link.

For a profile of Mark Bucklin, check out the site's Players link.

WCIA has failed to honor the former Board president's written promise to Murphy of remedial adjustment (settlement) of his never-adjusted claim.  Ass-covering dishonesty appears to reign supreme.

New director Ann Bennett unwilling to  facilitate righting of $711K+ wrong

She blows off Murphy's request for help

.....When Murphy's fourth public records request to WCIA unearthed the "smoking gun" letter addressed in this page's sidebar (to the right), he figured that Lew Leigh's replacement as Authority executive director, Ann Bennett, as an 18-year veteran of that "pubic body," would welcome the opportunity to affirmatively intervene in the travesty of WCIA's roundly unlawful, contract-violating failure to adjust and settle (pay) a fully supported, covered, admittedly meritorious claim seeking "no less than $711,245.26" in damages for Murphy's wrongful constructive discharge by the City of Kirkland. 

.....That thinking, however, proved to be wishful and utterly misplaced.  Murphy obtained the "smoking gun" from the Authority in October of last year (2013).  Since then, and with the unlimited "bro bono" assistance of an attorney brother who in 1980 graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, Murphy (1) thoroughly scrubbed all Washington law applicable to WCIA as a local government "risk pool," (2) reviewed and organized the myriad enlightening documents obtained from the Authority through his successive records requests, including the governing interlocal agreement and by-laws, and (3) produced the final draft of a complaint ("grievance") to the Washington State Bar Association about bar member and WCIA general counsel Mark Bucklin.

     Because Murphy assumed, albeit wrongly, that Bennett would want to see things set right, he wrote and delivered a letter to her in which he notified her of his imminent complaint to WSBA about Bucklin.  With the letter chronicling the most egregious instances of WCIA law-breaking (and contract and by-laws violating) and including an enclosure of Authority-damning material from the draft complaint, Murphy invited Bennett to contact him regarding a letter-proposed meeting between the two. 

     Murphy viewed the meeting offer as a golden opportunity for Bennett to act in WCIA's best (i.e., legitimate) interests.  His letter advised Bennett that the Bucklin complaint -- because it implicates the Authority in serious violations of state law -- would be provided under separate cover letters to Washington's insurance commissioner, risk manager, auditor and attorney general, each of whom has regulatory authority over WCIA.
"Given Bennett's plum appointment as WCIA executive director, it seems that 'going along to get along' can have very tangible benefits."

     The letter, with enclosure, points out that because Bucklin, as WCIA's general counsel, is, by state law, a "municipal officer," and because, by accepting Leigh's assignment of him as "defense counsel" to the City of Kirkland, Bucklin entered into a per se conflict of interest of his own making that resulted in his law firm (KB&M) earning more than $220K in Authority payments for legal services to the city. 

     As if that isn't outrageous enough, the letter notes that the subject assignment, which meets the statutory definition of a contract, (1) violated the WCIA contract and by-laws, (2) positioned Bucklin to materially participate, which he did, in the Authority's statute- and contract-violating failure to adjust and settle (pay) a covered, meritorious $711K+ claim, and (3) resulted in the WCIA-anticipated, unlawfully compelled, otherwise wholly unnecessary, and court-abusing litigation that meant windfall profits for "chairman" Bucklin's KB&M. 

     And, going from outrageous to obscene, because the assignment was prohibited by Washington law as a conflict of interest, and because the otherwise unnecessary litigation was unlawfully compelled, the letter also notes that the Authority misspent $220K+ in public funds ("taxpayer dollars"), and it did so incident to a contract-violating,  statutorily "void" agreement.

.....So far, however, Bennett appears to be continuing the  stonewalling of red-handed predecessor Leigh.  And in doing so, she is effectively perpetuating the cover-up that Leigh self-servingly began at the expense of WCIA's reputation and regulatory standing.  Bennett's failure to date to do the right thing could be explained by the fact that she was the Authority's deputy director for Claims when Leigh tossed the "rule book" out the window in sidelining her "claims team" adjusters so he could deny an unadjusted claim that an Authority review later found to be clearly meritorious.  If Bennett objected to that "hijack and murder" right under her nose, that's not reflected in the hundreds of  WCIA documents obtained by Murphy.  What is documented is that she was a party to multiple post-denial internal Authority communications about the killed-off claim.  Given Bennett's plum appointment as WCIA executive director, it seems that "going along to get along" can have very tangible benefits.
For more on WCIA's broken promise,
see the Oct. 16, 2014 entry in "Developments" to the right.

Contrary to law, contract and years of everyday practice, WCIA absurdly contends it has no obligation to adjust third-party claims.

'Smoking gun' discovered

.....It took a stroke of luck and a fourth public records request to obtain a telltale WCIA letter, and that "smoking gun" reveals why the Authority would rather have kept it secret.

.....The letter, written to state rusk manager Lucy Isaki, articulates the preposterous position that WCIA has no obligation to adjust citizens' damage claims against its 150-plus "risk pool" members, each of which is a local government entity, such as the City of Kirkland.

.....That position must come as quite a surprise to the Authority's many members given that they all signed a contract requiring the program's administrators to "provide claims adjustment services," for which the members pay sizable annual "assessments."

.....That come-lately, utterly bogus WCIA assertion, communicated in a "Sincerely" signed letter, is all the more bizarre given that the Authority adjusts more than 2,000 claims a year collectively submitted by its membership, with a large share of the claims coming from members of the public seeking compensation for government-caused damages.

.....Those are called "third party" claims because the claimants are not parties to the insurance contract, as are WCIA's member entities themselves.

.....The "adjustment" provision of the Authority contract is bound by Washington "claims settlement" law, which makes no distinction between first- and third-party claims regarding WCIA's obligation -- as routinely met by qualified adjusters -- to investigate them and seek prompt and fair settlement (payment) when liability is "reasonably clear."

A shockingly dishonest WCIA became  enmeshed in a self-spun web of deceit.

Bennett has failed to meet a promise to Murphy by WCIA board president.
Oct. 16, 2014

.....Murphy sent an email to Authority executive director Ann Bennett pointing out that the promise made to him by former WCIA Board of Directors president Tony Piasecki remains unfulfilled because of her refusal to facilitate a simple remedial settlement of Murphy's never-adjusted claim.
See related "ostrich" article

Executive director Bennett
forces an 'end around' by Murphy
Sep. 30, 2014

     Because WCIA executive director  Bennett appears unwilling to assist Murphy in his pursuit of remedial claim adjustment, Murphy asked her to arrange meetings directly between him and Bennett's superiors, including the president of the Authority's governing Board of Directors.

Murphy drafts complaint to WA Bar about general counsel Mark Bucklin
Sept. 23, 2014

     Authority executive director Bennett was given notice by Murphy of an imminent complaint by him against Authority general counsel Mark Bucklin, to be submitted to the Washington State Bar Association's Office of Disciplinary Counsel.  The "grievance" asserts that Bucklin violated the WSBA's Rules of Professional Conduct and Oath of Attorney, as well as trampled the Bar's bedrock Mission Statement.  (See article at page's lower left.)

Have you had a bad experience
with WCIA?

Please share it with Kevin Murphy.
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