Chapter 3.05


3.05.010    Tort and damage claims.

3.05.020    Settlement authority for tort claims.

3.05.030    Public disclosure of tort claim settlements.

3.05.010 Tort and damage claims.

A. Filing. All claims for damages against the county must be filed with the clerk of the county council. A summary of each claim identifying the claimant, the date of the claim, the amount claimed, the amount paid, and the date of payment shall be prepared annually by the clerk of the county council, or his or her designee, and made available for inspection by the members of the county council.

B. Requisites of Claim. All such claims for damages must locate and describe the defect which caused the injury, describe the injury and contain the amount of damages claimed, together with a statement of the actual residence of the claimant at the time of presenting and calling the claim and for a period of six months immediately prior to the time the claim accrued and be sworn to by the claimant; provided, that if the claimant is incapacitated from verifying and filing his claim for damages within the time prescribed, or if the claimant is a minor, or in case the claim is for damages to real or personal property, and the owner of the property is a nonresident of the county or is absent therefrom during the time within which a claim for damages is required to be filed, the claim may be verified and presented on behalf of the claimant by a relative or attorney or agent representing the injured person, or, in case of damages to property, representing the owner thereof.

C. Time for Commencement of Action. No action shall be commenced against the county for damages arising out of tortious conduct until a claim has first been filed with the clerk of the county council, and an action commenced in the proper court within the period allowed by law for the commencement of a like action against private parties.

D. Claim Forwarded to the County Executive as Well as the Prosecuting Attorney. Every claim after being filed with the clerk of the county council shall be promptly forwarded to the executive’s office as well as the prosecuting attorney who shall consider same in light of county tort claims defense qualifications.

E. All Summons and Complaints to the Prosecuting Attorney. Every tort action summons and complaint shall be served on the county auditor who shall promptly present it to the office of the Whatcom County prosecutor. (Ord. 2003-020; Ord. 2002-051; Ord. 93-042 Exh. F).

3.05.020 Settlement authority for tort claims.

A. Authority is delegated by the county council to the county prosecuting attorney for settlement of all tort claims against the county where the amount to be paid in the settlement is $5,000 or less; authority is delegated to the county prosecuting attorney, with the approval of the county executive, for settlement of all tort claims where the amount to be paid in the settlement is more than $5,000 but less than $25,000. All other settlements require council approval.

B. Unless authorized by law to be filed directly by the prosecuting attorney, all other civil lawsuits brought in the name of or on behalf of Whatcom County shall be commenced upon, and only upon, the approval of the county council. (Ord. 93-042 Exh. F).

3.05.030 Public disclosure of tort claim settlements.

A. No settlements of any lawsuit to which the county is a party shall be made except with full public disclosure of the total settlement amount either paid by the county directly or paid on the county’s behalf. The county shall not be required to disclose payments made by third parties in settlement of their own claims.

B. The prosecuting attorney’s office shall include a copy of this section in early correspondence to litigants. (Ord. 93-042 Exh. F).