Chapter 2.90
RISK MANAGEMENT AND INSURANCE

Sections:

2.90.010    Purpose.

2.90.020    Definitions.

2.90.025    Risk management committee created.

2.90.027    Duties of the risk management committee.

2.90.030    Duties of executive.

2.90.045    Duties of prosecuting attorney.

2.90.050    Incident and claims handling procedures.

2.90.060    Claims and lawsuit disposal procedure.

2.90.065    Denial of Claims

2.90.070    Small claims and collections.

2.90.080    Duties of county officers and employees.

2.90.085    Defense of county employees, officers and volunteers.

2.90.086    Punitive damages.

2.90.087    Representation of county witnesses.

2.90.090    Procedure for representing defendant employees, officers and volunteers.

2.90.900    Severability.

2.90.010 Purpose.

The purpose of the ordinance codified in this chapter is to define the risk management program for the county, establishing authority and procedures for resolution of damages, claims and lawsuits.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 2, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 1, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996).

2.90.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words and terms shall have the meanings set forth herein:

(1) "Auditor" means the Snohomish county auditor;

(2) "Claim" means any claim for damages based on alleged conduct of the county, or employee(s), officers, or volunteers of the county arising while performing or in good faith purporting to perform his or her official duties as set forth in RCW 4.96.020 as presently enacted or hereafter amended.

(3) "Council" means the Snohomish county council;

(4) "Executive" means the Snohomish county executive or his/her designee;

(5) "Incident" means any accident, event, activity, or series of events involving one or more individuals which may result in the filing of a formal claim for damages or reimbursement. An incident report shall not constitute a formal claim for damages.

(6) "Insurance fund" means that fund provided in Title 4 SCC;

(7) "Lawsuit" means any lawsuit, including any lawsuit brought pursuant to chapter 4.96 RCW as presently enacted or hereafter amended, naming the county or employee, officer or volunteer of the county for acts or omissions arising while performing or in good faith purporting to perform his or her official duties, as defendant or third party defendant, and seeking, at least in part, money damages;

(8) "Prosecuting attorney" means the prosecuting attorney of Snohomish county and such regular and special deputies as are assigned to perform functions referred to herein;

(9) "Risk management" shall mean a coordinated and continuous management process to identify and analyze potential loss exposures, to apply where possible reasonable and effective processes to transfer or reduce the risk of loss so as to preserve the assets of Snohomish county. Risk management shall include insurance purchase and management of insurance policies for the county, the determination and setting of adequate reserves in the county insurance fund, claims management, providing legal defense to the county, loss prevention and management of safety and industrial insurance programs;

(10) "Risk manager" shall mean the manager of the department of finance, risk management division.

(11) "Designated insurance broker" means an insurance broker who is under contract to provide assistance to the risk management committee.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 3, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 2, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Ord. 07-045, June 6, 2007, Eff date June 18, 2007; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.025 Risk management committee created.

(1) There is hereby created a Snohomish County risk management committee composed of the following:

(a) Executive or designee;

(b) Director of budget and finance or designee;

(c) Prosecuting attorney or designee;

(d) Risk manager or designee who shall serve as chair;

(e) Member designated by county council or designee.

(2) The risk management committee is charged with the function of overseeing the county’s risk management activities, which includes but is not limited to approving the selection of insurance brokers chosen as a result of a competitive procurement process; advising the risk manager on matters concerning the purchase of insurance policies; advising the risk manager on the design of insurance and funded self-insurance programs; and approving the purchase of all insurance policies.

(Added Ord. 88-012, § 4, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 3, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.027 Duties of the risk management committee.

The risk management committee shall be responsible for the following; among others:

(1) Adopting consistent reporting requirements for all incidents and accidents;

(2) Recommending changes or modifications to coverage limits;

(3) Approving recommendations for loss reduction strategies and forwarding recommendations to all county departments;

(4) Reviewing all reports provided by executive;

(5) Recommending operating policies and procedures to the county council and county executive.

(Ord. 96-006, § 4, March 13, 1996. Eff date March 28, 1996).

2.90.030 Duties of executive.

The executive shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Coordinate the risk management program and services for the county;

(2) Establish insurance and indemnification requirements for county contracts and leases;

(3) Purchase of appropriate insurance as available on reasonable terms to reduce the county’s risk of loss;

(4) Management of the county’s insurance programs;

(5) Advise county departments, divisions, and other agencies regarding programs and precautions for safety as established by the executive to reduce hazards to the employee and public that may exist in county facilities and operations;

(6) Investigate, as the risk manager deems appropriate, any incidents, or conditions for the purpose of claims handling and disposition and/or preventing future incidents;

(7) Make tenders of potentially insured claims to insurance carriers or third party administrators in coordination with the prosecuting attorney;

(8) Maintain loss histories for all lines of coverage;

(9) Select as a result of a competitive procurement process and oversee broker and third party claims administrators;

(10) Recommend coverage changes and modifications to policies to the risk management committee;

(11) Prepare and disseminate such guidelines as are necessary to inform county employees of their responsibilities in relation to accident reporting and risk management policy.

(Added Ord. 88-012, § 5, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 5, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.045 Duties of prosecuting attorney.

The prosecuting attorney shall:

(1) Defend all lawsuits against the county and officers, employees, and volunteers as authorized pursuant to this chapter, except where other counsel is provided by insurance coverage or appointed pursuant to RCW 36.32.200. The prosecuting attorney may appear as co-counsel with insurance provided or county retained counsel, where appropriate;

(2) Provide legal advice to other county officials regarding the disposition of claims against the county in accordance with the criteria set forth in SCC 2.90.060 herein.

In addition, the prosecuting attorney shall have the authority to:

(3) Make tenders of potentially insured claims to insurance carriers in coordination with the executive;

(4) Investigate, as the prosecutor deems appropriate, any incidents, or conditions prior to a claim being filed, for the purpose of possible litigation and/or preventing future incidents;

(5) Prosecute, at the prosecutor’s sole discretion, claims for contribution, counter-claims, cross-claims and other claims arising from damage to county property or other losses suffered by the county due to negligence of some other party;

(6) Recommend means of reducing potential liability to appropriate county officials.

(7) Advise the risk manager of the status and progress of all claims and claims litigation.

(Added Ord. 88-012, § 7, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 7, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.050 Incident and claims handling procedures.

(1) Service and Filing. In accordance with RCW 4.96.020(2), claims against the county shall be filed with the risk management division of the department of finance and, in accordance with RCW 4.28.080(1), summons and complaints shall be served upon the auditor. No officer, employee or volunteer of the county may waive the service and/or filing requirements.

(2) Transmittal. The risk manager shall transmit copies of all claims and the auditor shall transmit copies of all lawsuits to the prosecuting attorney, within three business days of receipt.

(3) The risk manager shall submit a claim report to the council each quarter, or more often as requested by the council. The report shall identify the categories of claims; the percentage of open claims for each category and the related demand amount; the percentage of closed claims and the total of related indemnity and expense payments made to date for each category. The report may include any other information the risk manager believes would be helpful to the council in understanding the nature of claims.

The risk manager on or before March 31st of each year shall report to the council on the performance of the risk management program, including, but not limited to, the number of claim filings, amount of claim payments, insurance coverage and self-insured retention.

(4) Notification. The risk manager and the auditor shall notify the department involved in any claims or lawsuits within three business days of receipt.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 8, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 93-101, Oct. 6, 1993; Eff date Oct. 16, 1993; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 8, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Ord. 07-045, June 6, 2007, Eff date June 18, 2007; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.060 Claims and lawsuit disposal procedure.

(1) The risk manager shall have the authority to settle any claim or lawsuit in which the amount of the settlement does not exceed $35,000. If the risk manager is unavailable, the director of the department of finance may approve such settlements.

(2) The executive shall have the authority to settle claims and lawsuits in which the amount of the settlement is between $35,000 to $100,000 for any incident with the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney; PROVIDED, That if the aggregate amount of all claims or lawsuits settled as a result of a single incident exceeds $100,000, then approval by the county council shall be required for the settlement of those claims or lawsuits which would exceed the $100,000 limit per incident.

(3) The county council shall approve all settlements of claims and lawsuits for amounts in excess of $100,000. The prosecuting attorney shall make recommendations to the executive and the council for proposed settlements of lawsuits or claims for amounts in excess of $100,000.

Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 9, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 93-101, Oct. 6, 1993; Eff date Oct. 16, 1993; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 9, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Ord. 07-045, June 6, 2007, Eff date June 18, 2007; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.065 Denial of Claims

The risk manager is authorized to deny any claim made against the county if the risk manager determines that the claim is without merit or that the county has no legal liability.

(Added Ord. 07-045, June 6, 2007, Eff date June 18, 2007)

2.90.070 Small claims and collections.

(1) The risk manager shall have the authority, after notifying the prosecuting attorney, to pursue, collect, and/or defend monetary claims within the jurisdiction of small claims court or brought in small claims court pursuant to chapter 12.40 RCW.

(2) The risk manager shall be responsible for defending the county in small claims actions alleging tortious conduct on behalf of the county, agent of the county or employee of the county acting within the scope of employment. Notice of claim shall be provided to the prosecuting attorney pursuant to subsection (5) of this section.

(3) The prosecuting attorney may, at his/her sole discretion, pursue, collect, or defend the monetary claims in small claims court.

(4) The risk manager is authorized, upon being awarded a judgment in favor of the county in small claims court, to employ a collection agency for services to collect and/or execute on said judgment.

(5) The risk manager shall be responsible for maintaining records of each and every claim pursued, collected or defended. These records shall include detailed information as to the nature and amount of the claim, the department or division involved, the individual who appeared in court on behalf of the county, and the disposition of the action. A copy of those records shall be maintained by the risk manager.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 10, March 30, 1988; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.080 Duties of county officers and employees.

(1) Cooperation. All county officials and employees shall have a duty to report to and cooperate fully with the risk manager, prosecuting attorney and other county officials and the third party administrator concerning accidents or investigation of any incident or condition. All officials and department heads have a duty to provide requested information and otherwise assist the risk manager and prosecuting attorney in the defense of claims and lawsuits. Such assistance may include but is not limited to the providing of testimony and exhibits for use in litigation.

(2) Forbidden Acts. Except when authorized under the provisions of this chapter, no employee, officer or volunteer, acting individually or collectively, may:

(a) Negotiate or otherwise effect the settlement of a claim or lawsuit against the county;

(b) Make an admission of liability involving an incident, claim or lawsuit against the county, its elected and appointed officials, employees and volunteers.

(3) Employee Responsibility Concerning Accident Occurrence. Every officer or employee shall have a duty, in the event of an accident or incident, which is likely to result in a claim or lawsuit being brought against such officer or employee, or the county, to notify his or her supervisor and, as soon thereafter as possible, provide notice of such accident or incident pursuant to county risk management procedures to the risk manager.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 88-012, § 11, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 10, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.085 Defense of county employees, officers and volunteers.

(1) Whenever any action or proceeding is brought against any county employee, officer, or volunteer, who is not an independent contractor, or against such person and the spouse and/or marital community of any such person, arising from acts or omissions of that person while performing or in good faith purporting to perform his or her official duties, the county shall, upon request, authorize defense of the action or proceeding at county expense in accordance with this section. Snohomish County shall defend, indemnify, and hold harmless said protected personnel, subject to conditions and limitations of this chapter and RCW 36.16.134, from all costs, judgments or other civil liabilities, except punitive damages. This duty shall not apply to criminal, infraction or other non-civil proceedings or liabilities.

(2) Whenever any person designated in subsection (1) of this section is named as a defendant in an action or proceeding arising out of acts or omissions while performing or in good faith purporting to perform his or her official duties, he or she shall immediately notify the prosecuting attorney and forward a copy of any pleading served on him or her to the prosecuting attorney. In addition, an application for representation must be submitted to the prosecuting attorney in writing no later than 10 days after the applicant’s receipt of service of process. Such application must include copies of any pleadings served and such additional information as may be requested. If submission is not made within the 10-day period, the county may refuse to protect, defend and hold the applicant harmless in the legal action in question.

(3) Upon receipt of an application for representation, the prosecuting attorney is hereby authorized to appear in such action in order to maintain the status quo in the proceedings pending the county’s decision under this chapter whether legal counsel will be provided.

(4) The prosecuting attorney or his or her designee shall review the application for representation and if the prosecuting attorney or his or her designee determines that the individual requesting representation is a county officer, employee or volunteer and that the action arises out of acts or omissions performed or in good faith purported to have been performed in the course of his or her official duties, the prosecuting attorney shall authorize representation at county expense.

(5) If the prosecuting attorney or his or her designee determines that the individual requesting representation is not entitled to representation, the individual may appeal this decision to the county council. This appeal must be filed with the clerk of the county council no later than 10 business days after the date of receipt of the prosecutor’s decision to deny representation. The council shall determine whether the acts or omissions of the officer, employee, or volunteer are, or in good faith purported to be, within the scope of his or her official duties so that the individual is entitled to representation. If the council reverses the denial, the county shall provide legal counsel for representation in and defense of civil suits and shall hold these individuals harmless for any expenses connected with the defense, settlement, or monetary judgment arising from same, except as provided for in SCC 2.90.086. All decisions of the council shall be final.

(6) Where a possible conflict exists between the county and a county official or employee or other individual otherwise entitled to representation under this chapter, the prosecuting attorney may decline to represent that person. In such cases, the county shall be responsible for payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in defense of the county official or employee as authorized by the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney shall have the sole authority to select counsel to represent the individual for whom the county is providing a defense, consistent with the rules of professional conduct. The prosecuting attorney shall make appropriate arrangements for the representation of the county official or employee.

(7) Defendant Liability Insurance. In the event county officer, volunteer, or employee is protected by a policy of liability insurance, the policy shall be relied upon the officer or employee to the extent that such policy provides defense or insures the official or employee. If the officer or employee will suffer losses and/or expenses not covered by the policy, the county shall provide protection for such excess loss and/or expenses.

(8) Limitations. If any such officer, volunteer, or employees fail or refuse to cooperate as specified in SCC 2.90.080 and 2.90.085, or elects to provide his or her legal representation with respect to claims and/or litigation arising out of acts or duties in the scope of his or her employment by the county, the provisions of this chapter will be inapplicable and of no force and effect with respect to any such claim and/or litigation; PROVIDED, That the obligations assumed under this section by the county shall not apply to any negligent act, error or omission not within the scope and course of the official duties of the county officer, volunteer or employee, nor to any dishonest, fraudulent, criminal or malicious act nor extend to any lawsuit brought by the county or in its behalf. The provisions of this section shall not modify existing procedures or requirements of law for processing and payment of claims against the county, or of judgments in those cases in which the county is a party defendant; PROVIDED, That such claims, lawsuits and judgments shall be handled in all respects in the same manner as those in which a claim is filed or a lawsuit brought against the county, notwithstanding any other provisions contained in this section. Such provisions shall have no force and effect with respect to any accident, occurrence or circumstance to the extent to which the county, the officer, volunteer, or employee is insured against loss or damages under the terms of any valid insurance policy.

(Added Ord. 88-012, § 12, March 30, 1988; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 14, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996; Amended by Amended Ord. 17-019, June 7, 2017, Eff date June 19, 2017).

2.90.086 Punitive damages.

In the event that punitive damages are awarded against any county officer, employee, or volunteer in any action or proceeding as a result of acts or omissions of such officer, employee, or volunteer while performing or in good faith purporting to perform his or her official duties, the individual against who punitive damages have been awarded may apply to the county council for indemnification for such punitive damages. Such application for indemnification must be filed in writing with the clerk of the council within 30 days of the date of the entry of the judgment for punitive damages. The county council, in its sole discretion, shall determine whether to pay the punitive damages award. The decision of the county council shall be final.

(Ord. 96-006, § 12, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996).

2.90.087 Representation of county witnesses.

The prosecuting attorney is authorized to represent any county officer, employee, or volunteer who is subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a deposition, trial or other proceeding on matters arising out of the officer’s employee’s or volunteer’s performance of his or her official duties, The prosecuting attorney has the sole discretion to determine whether to provide representation of such county witnesses. Such representation, if provided, shall only extend to the county witness in his or her official capacity and shall be provided only to the extent that the interests of the county witness are consistent with the interests of the county.

(Ord. 96-006, § 13, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996).

2.90.090 Procedure for representing defendant employees, officers and volunteers.

(1) Employees, officers and volunteers of Snohomish County who are named individually in a claim or lawsuit, and wish the county to indemnify or defend them shall make application for same to the prosecuting attorney. Such application shall include a complete statement of the act(s) and/or omission(s) complained of, together with copies of any pleadings served and such additional information as may be requested. This application shall be submitted to the prosecuting attorney’s office no later than 10 days after service of process upon the applicant. If submission is not made within the 10-day period the prosecuting attorney may refuse to protect, provide defense or hold the applicant harmless in the legal action in question unless the applicant demonstrates that he/she had a reasonable excuse for the failure to comply with the time requirement.

(2) Action of Prosecuting Attorney Pending Decision to Provide Counsel. Upon receipt of copies of all pleadings, the prosecuting attorney is hereby authorized to appear in such action to the extent permitted by state law in order to maintain the status quo in the proceedings pending decision as to whether legal counsel will be provided.

(3) Synopsis and Recommendation--Preparation. Upon refusal to accept defense, the prosecuting attorney shall prepare a synopsis of the nature of the legal action and whether or not, in his/her opinion, the applicant acted in good faith or purported to act within the scope of his or her official duties and forward such synopsis to the council, together with his own recommendation thereon.

(4) Council to Decide. The council shall decide whether to uphold the denial of defense by the prosecuting attorney as to whether the acts or omission of the applicant were in good faith and within the scope of his or her official duties. If the council reverses the denial, the county shall provide legal counsel for representation in and defense of civil suits and shall hold these individuals harmless for any expenses connected with the defense, settlement, or monetary judgment arising from same. All decisions of the council shall be final and not appealable on any grounds.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984; Amended Ord. 96-006, § 14, March 13, 1996, Eff date March 28, 1996).

2.90.900 Severability.

Should any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter be declared unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of such chapter or section.

(Added Ord. 84-062, § 2, May 30, 1984).