|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 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 -- in violation of the Authority's by-laws and a holding of the Washington State Supreme Court -- 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).
.....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" unlawfully triggered compelled, WCIA-anticipated yet otherwise entirely 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 (KB&M), for which, at the time, he was board chairman, president and managing shareholder.
WCIA director 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), Murphy 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 proved misplaced, however, because Murphy wrongly assumed that Bennett, as WCIA's executive director, would responsibly meet her duties to (1) faithfully serve the Authority's governing Board of Directors, (2) respect controlling Washington law, (3) abide by WCIA's contract and by-laws, and (4) protect the Authority's reputation and regulatory standing. Instead, Bennett put personal interests first and sustained the stonewalling cover-up begun by predecessor Leigh. As revealed by documents that Murphy wrested from WCIA, Bennett herself is complicit in the "hijack and murder" of Murphy's claim. As the Authority's then-deputy director of Claims, she allowed Leigh to toss the "rule book" out the window in sidelining her "claims team" (with its adjusters) so he could "deny" a never-adjusted claim that an Authority review later found to be clearly meritorious.
The WCIA Interlocal Agreement (ILA, or "contract"), in its Article 11 ("Officers of the Authority") states, "The Executive Director shall have the general administrative responsibility for the activities of the Joint Protection Program" (JPP). And that's the program that "provides claims adjusting services," as mandated, as a WCIA "responsibility," by the same ILA at Article 16. Furthermore, when Murphy's unadjusted meritorious claim was denied by the Authority in violation of Washington law and the statute-bound ILA, and when WCIA contemporaneously sent Murphy its sham "denial" letter, the JPP was under the purview of then-WCIA "deputy director of Claims" Bennett. Having left that position to assume the outgoing-Leigh's position as executive director, there's nobody with a greater professional, ethical and moral obligation to finally "make things right" than Bennett herself.
.....As the record shows, Bennett was a party to multiple post-denial internal WCIA communications about the killed-off claim. Given Bennett's plum appointment as Authority executive director, it seems that "going along to get along" can have very tangible benefits.
.....Addressed in the sidebar to the right, the "smoking gun" WCIA letter wasn't unearthed by Murphy's records "mining" until October of 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, who is also complicit in the claim's "denial."
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 her 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 in, which he did, 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 entirely 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 misappropriated $220K+ in public funds ("taxpayer dollars"); and it did so incident to a contract-violating, statutorily "void" agreement.
Bennett's response? Dishonoring a written WCIA promise to Murphy and ignoring a readily available means of settling (paying) his admittedly meritorious claim, she sent him a self-serving, authority-exceeding, blow-off email. (See also Murphy's linked response.).
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