|Unofficial website about the WASHINGTON CITIES INSURANCE AUTHORITY, whose address is below|
... where integrity appears optional
WCIA violates law, contract, by-laws
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 adjusting 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 -- in violation of the Authority's by-laws and a holding of the Washington State Supreme Court -- 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).
.....That didn't happen. What did happen is that, (1) with Leigh, in violation of the WCIA by-laws, 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" that unlawfully 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.
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 successor 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 contact (interlocal agreement) and by-laws, and (3) produced the final draft of a complaint ("grievance") to the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) 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.
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 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.
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the website of the WASHINGTON CITIES INSURANCE AUTHORITY,
which is at www.wciapool.org.
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