April 2017 - Issue 62

California JPIA 22nd Annual Risk Management Educational Forum: Capstone Award and Scholarship Opportunity

Irwindale Police Department: Pink Patch Project

What Are the Annual Payroll Exposure and Annual Underwriting Information Reports?

Sidewalk Inspection and Maintenance Program Services and Updates

Legislative Update

Risk Managers Roundtable

NIOSH Noise Level App

Participant Waiver Execution and Retention

Long Beach Settles Disability Act Suit, Will Pay Millions to Repair Sidewalks

News: Worthy

California JPIA 22nd Annual Risk Management Educational Forum: Capstone Award and Scholarship Opportunity

Registration will open in May for the 22nd Annual Risk Management EducationalCJPIA_RMEF 2017_Email Header Forum, entitled Risk Management – Facing the Future Together, to be held at The Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara from October 11 – 13, 2017.

The Authority offers two programs to members as part of the Risk Management Educational Forum. 

The Capstone Award recognizes outstanding individuals at the Forum who best exemplify the practice of risk management in the public sector.  Separately, the Authority provides a limited number of Forum scholarships to assist members who would like to attend the Forum but do not have sufficient agency funds.

5th Annual California JPIA Capstone Award

An individual nominated for the Capstone Award is a person who could be working at any level within a member agency and ideally would be someone who:

  • Thinks through the implications of risk in the carrying out of local government programs and services.
  • Works to support traditional or enterprise risk management efforts for the member agency.
  • Develops, implements, and administers loss prevention and loss control programs to mitigate risk exposures for the member agency.
  • Coordinates support systems that serve the member's risk management goals and needs.
  • Influences others in developing quality risk management programs for the member agency.

Tell us who you feel should be considered for the 5th annual Capstone Award by clicking here to complete the brief Capstone Award nomination form.  The success of the Capstone Award depends on people like you to identify and recognize your colleagues who work tirelessly behind the scenes to promote excellence in risk management within their agency.

Submissions will be accepted through Thursday, June 1, 2017.  This year features a new nomination process, which is outlined in the Capstone Award nomination form.

All finalists will receive complimentary hotel accommodations and a travel stipend to attend the Forum.  All finalists will be recognized at the Forum, and one finalist will be announced as the Capstone Award winner.

Educational Forum Scholarship Opportunity

While there is no cost for member registration, the California JPIA is awarding a limited number of scholarships for lodging accommodation costs while attending the Forum.

The purpose of the scholarships is to assist members who are otherwise unable to attend the Forum due to financial constraints at their agencies.  The Executive Committee has authorized two nights lodging at The Fess Parker Resort during the Forum for each scholarship recipient. 

This is a competitive process and will be awarded to the most deserving applicants.  Priority will be given to those who have never attended the Forum on a scholarship.

To be eligible to receive a scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Be an employee of a member agency of the California JPIA.
  • Obtain supervisor or management approval to attend.
  • Attend the Forum in its entirety.
  • Be able to pay for any other related costs, including transportation to and from the Forum.

Please click here to complete the scholarship application.  Applications must be submitted no later than Thursday, June 1, 2017.  Selected recipients will be notified by email on or before July 5, 2017.

For questions about the Capstone Award or the Forum scholarship program, contact Abraham Han, Administrative Analyst.

Re: Members

Irwindale Police Department: Pink Patch Project

(Reprinted from the California Police Officers Association website)

In October 2015, the Pink Patch Project was launched at the Irwindale Police Department. What started as a grassroots awareness project at a small police department located in the northeastern portion of Los Angeles County has blossomed into more than 25 law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County actively participating in breast cancer awareness and fundraising through the PinkIrwindale Police Patch Project.

The Pink Patch Project was born of a conversation between Chief Anthony Miranda of the Irwindale Police Department and records clerk Norma Ortiz. Norma was still recovering from the devastating journey she traveled with her mother, Sheryl Ortiz, as she battled breast cancer. Norma’s journey ended unfortunately with Sheryl losing her battle. As Norma shared her story with Chief Miranda, both became painfully aware of the impact the disease had on their department that year. In 2012, three members of the Irwindale Police Department had recently lost their mothers to breast cancer, a startling number for an agency of 27 total sworn officers. As the two conversed about the disease, Chief Miranda decided that more could be done.

In previous years, Irwindale Police Department had adopted different programs to bring awareness to breast cancer. Officers were encouraged to wear ribbons, lapel pins and pink bands to bring awareness to the disease. In 2013, Chief Miranda recalled seeing a pink patch that the Seal Beach Police Department was wearing on their uniforms during the month of October. He decided that Irwindale would embark on a journey of their own: create and wear a patch bearing the city’s emblem and likeness, yet all stitching would be in bright pink, a sharp contrast to the dark navy blue uniform.

In 2013, when Chief Miranda and Norma Ortiz were in the early phases of creating the pink patch, they were unsure of the response they would receive from the officers. Chief Miranda had been the chief at Irwindale Police Department for less than a year. He was adamant that Irwindale Police Department could do more to raise awareness of breast cancer, but he wasn’t sure others would share his passion. Chief Miranda had an idea. In 2012, Seal Beach Police Department raised $3,000 with their pink patch. Chief Miranda decided to challenge the officers at Irwindale Police Department. His challenge: triple the amount of money Seal Beach Police Department raised in their pink patch campaign.

Chief Miranda presented his idea to the Irwindale Police Officer’s Association. He informed the Irwindale Police Officers Association that officer participation was not mandatory but solely voluntary.  Chief Miranda asked his officers if they would be up to the challenge of tripling Seal Beach Police Department’s fundraiser. To his surprise, October 1, 2015, marked the day that every officer in the Irwindale Police Department overwhelmingly supported the project and adorned the pink patches proudly on their uniforms. Chief Miranda and Norma decided to take their pink patches and t-shirts they created bearing the pink patch to community events like Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, and the Irwindale Speedway. The response they received from the community was overwhelmingly supportive. The demand for pink patches and t-shirts was so high that they had to order considerably more than they anticipated. The Irwindale Police Department exceeded Chief Miranda’s challenge and raised over $20,000 for the City of Hope that year.

As the news of Irwindale Police Department’s pink patch spread, corporate sponsors contacted the police department to find out how they could support the project. Local news media outlets also jumped on board to cover the story. The momentum was building, and the word was out: the Irwindale Police Department Pink Patch Project was raising money for the City of Hope and bringing attention to a disease that affected so many.

For Sergeant Rudy Gatto, the support was a welcome surprise. In 2007, Sergeant Gatto’s mother-in-law, Dorothy Tarozzi, was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Sergeant Gatto and his family supported Dorothy through her battle, he experienced the emotional and physical impact the disease has on family members. For Sergeant Gatto, breast cancer’s devastating impact hit home. While Chief Miranda and Norma were in the process of creating the patch for Irwindale Police Department, Sergeant Gatto tapped into the resource of social media and #pinkpatchproject was born.

Norma Ortiz explained that the Pink Patch Project is an incredible tribute to her mother, Sheryl. When Sheryl was initially diagnosed with the disease, she was told by doctors that she had approximately 18 months before the disease would take her life. Thanks to the City of Hope, Sheryl was able to participate in experimental treatments that prolonged her life another year and a half, a gift that Norma is incredibly grateful to have received.

In 2016, Chief Miranda spoke to the Los Angeles County Chiefs Association regarding the Pink Patch Project, and the association voted unanimously to support the project. According to Chief Miranda, the Pink Patch Project’s main goal is to bring awareness to the disease. Raising funds is a bonus and specific to participating agencies. Every agency that chooses to participate in the project creates their patch and donates the funds raised from the project to a charity in their community. The spirit behind the Pink Patch Project is to support those affected by the disease in their community. Whether an agency chooses to support a family affected by the disease, hospice or treatment facility, or donate to the City of Hope, the goals are being obtained and the battle is being aggressively fought.

The program centers on vibrant pink versions of the public safety officer's uniform patch. These bright pink patches have been specially designed by each participating agency specifically for the #PinkPatchProject campaign. Officers at each of the participating agencies will wear these pink patches on their regular uniforms for the entire month of October each year during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

The pink patches are intended to stimulate conversation with the community and to encourage public awareness about the importance of early detection and the on-going fight against this disease.

“We are thrilled about the expanding participation and increasing enthusiasm in the Pink Patch Project. What started out as a local Southern California initiative has become a national program, and it’s so rewarding to be a part of this meaningful public service campaign. I feel compelled to contribute to the fight against breast cancer, as it seems most of us have been personally impacted by this powerful disease. On behalf of the Irwindale Police Department, the Los Angeles County Chiefs’ Association, and all of those who wear our pink patches with pride, thank you!” shared Chief Anthony Miranda.

If you are a chief of police, an officer, or a community member that would like to bring the Pink Patch Project to your area, you may contact the Irwindale Police Department for more information. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in 2016, an estimated 246,660 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The efforts made today to bring awareness, raise funds for treatment and research, and support those impacted by the disease are essential steps toward the goal of one day finding a cure.

News: Worthy

What Are the Annual Payroll Exposure and Annual Underwriting Information Reports?

By Lam Le, Financial Analyst and Jim Thyden, Insurance Programs Manager

The Authority collects payroll and other data that is used to calculate each member’s Annual Contribution through the Annual Payroll Exposure Report (APER). This data is also reported to the State of California, and it is provided to the Authority’s insurance carriers to use in determining the cost of reinsurance and excess insurance.

The Authority obtains the remaining data from members that insurance carriers require through the Annual Underwriting Information Report (AUIR).  Data from the AUIR is also used by Authority staff to analyze and evaluate risk exposures and provide risk management advice to members.

Previously, these reports were combined into a single request that was sent to members in March every year.  Because the timing of when the data was needed changed, the APER and AUIR are now separated into two reports.

The APER and AUIR notice is sent by email to member agency risk managers, with the APER notice sent to member agency finance and budget staff.  The email notices provide an explanation of the information needed and the deadline to complete each report. The APER notice is sent to members in April; the AUIR will be sent to members in July.

Both reports are separated into several sections and each one can be completed independent of the other and saved separately.  The reports have been designed to allow multiple people from the same member organization to complete pages simultaneously. Sections relating to calculating payroll exposure are generally completed by member agency finance or accounting staff, while other sections are typically completed by human resources, fleet management, or other staff.

Most pages in the reports have instructions that can be accessed by clicking on the "View page instructions" in the upper right hand section. The instructions have been prepared to ensure the consistency of responses. Also, to assist members in completing the reports, some of the information from the agency’s most recent report is included on the page in green font.  Additionally, the member’s previous five reports can be accessed from the "Member Information" page.

It is important that members fill in all information completely and accurately so the Authority can comply with audits and provide the best information possible to the insurance marketplace.

If you have questions regarding the APER, please contact Lam Le, Financial Analyst; questions regarding the AUIR can be directed to Jim Thyden, Insurance Programs Manager.

News: Worthy

Sidewalk Inspection and Maintenance Program Services and Updates

By Abraham Han, Administrative Analyst

Maintaining safe sidewalks represents an area that continues to be a challenge for local government agencies. Recent data indicates that the Authority has spent over $14 million in the last five years to resolve slip and trip claims. These significant slip and trip claim costs not only affect members directly involved in such claims, but they also affect members' overall cost of coverage.

Furthermore, maintaining sidewalks so that they are free of dangerous deviations provides a benefit to the community. Sidewalks without such deviations allow residents and visitors to safely navigate residential areas, public facilities, businesses, parks, and many other areas with pedestrian traffic.

The Authority is currently helping members in two different ways to reduce risk exposure associated with sidewalk slip and trip claims.

Sidewalk Inspection and Maintenance Pilot Program

In 2015, the Authority created a sidewalk inspection and maintenance pilot program for select member agencies with the highest total severity in slip and trip claims. The purpose of this pilot program is to analyze whether the program is beneficial and efficient on a smaller scale to justify expanding the program to the membership at large.

Through coordination with Precision Concrete Cutting, Authority members have been able to remove a combined 13,175 slip and trip hazards to date through the pilot program. Most program participants have completed work, and remaining work is expected to be completed around June 2017. Authority staff will evaluate the pilot program upon its completion.

Master Services Agreement

Although the pilot program is only available to a few select members, the entire membership currently has access to a master services agreement between the Authority and Precision Concrete Cutting. To date, members have been able to remove a combined 19,108 slip and trip hazards to date through the master services agreement.

All work utilizing the master services agreement must be arranged between the member and Precision Concrete Cutting, including any contract, insurance requirements, scope of work, and payment terms.

The California Public Contract Code excludes maintenance work from bidding requirements related to public works projects. This means that general law agencies likely can forgo requiring bids for this work. To see the relevant sections of the code, please click here. As always, please consult with your agency attorney before proceeding to see if there are any restrictions or other requirements regarding use of the master services agreement.

Pricing and services information from the master services agreement is available here

For any questions related to the master services agreement, please contact your assigned Risk Manager.

News: Worthy

Legislative Update

By Abraham Han, Administrative Analyst

In response to feedback received from the Advisory Committees and members, the Authority seeks to better inform members that may be affected by proposed state legislation.  Understanding and interpreting the various bills can be challenging, so the Authority looks forward to providing members with legislative updates through major updates and as necessary.

The Authority’s involvement with the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) allows for the identification of key bills that may have an impact on local government agencies should they be approved and signed into law.

Those bills that are being monitored include the following:

AB 44 (Reyes). Workers’ compensation: medical treatment: terrorist attacks: workplace violence.

Position: Oppose. This bill unreasonably proposes to exclude the utilization review process from injuries or illnesses sustained as a result of “an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace”, while also increasing the number of compensable weeks of temporary disability payments to 240 weeks.

Summary: This bill would exempt medical treatment for employees or first responders who sustain physical or psychological injury as a result of an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace, as defined, from the utilization review process and the independent medical review process, and would provide for an expedited proceeding before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to resolve disputes regarding treatment.

AB 182 (Waldron). Heroin and Opioid Public Education (HOPE) Act.

Position: Support. This bill would supply needed information through an annual report on actions taken by the Department of Healthcare Services to deter the abuse of opioid medications and other drugs through the Heroin and Opioid Public Education (HOPE) Program.

Summary: This bill would require the State Department of Health Care Services, in consultation with stakeholders, to develop, coordinate, implement, and oversee a comprehensive multicultural public awareness campaign, to be known as “Heroin and Opioid Public Education (HOPE).” The bill would require the HOPE program to provide for the coordinated and widespread public dissemination of individual case stories and other generalized information that is designed to, among other things, describe the effects and warning signs of heroin use and opioid medication abuse, so as to better enable members of the public to determine when help is needed and identify the pathways that are available for individuals to seek help.

AB 221 (Gray). Workers’ compensation: liability for payment.

Position: Oppose unless amended. Although the bill is well intended, the bill should include criteria for predominant cause for cumulative trauma (CT) claims, limiting post-employment CT claims and limiting the filing of liens for treatment obtained prior to the filing of the CT claim.

Summary: Current law requires an employer to provide all medical services reasonably required to cure or relieve the injured worker from the effects of the injury. This bill would provide that for claims of occupational disease or cumulative injury filed on or after January 1, 2018, the employee and the employer would have no liability for payment for medical treatment unless one or more of certain conditions are satisfied, including, among others, that the treatment was authorized by the employer.

AB 241 (Dababneh). Personal information: privacy: state and local agency breach.

Position: Oppose. This bill has a lack of specificity regarding appropriate remedial services. Additional remedial services as set out in this bill could lead to new costs for public employers attempting to comply with the bill.

Summary: Current law requires a person or business, if it was the source of a data security breach, to offer to provide appropriate identity theft prevention and mitigation services at no cost to the person whose information was or may have been breached if the breach exposed or may have exposed the person’s social security number, driver’s license number, or California identification card number. This bill also would require a state or local agency, if it was the source of the breach, to offer to provide appropriate identity theft prevention and mitigation services at no cost to a person whose information was or may have been breached if the breach exposed or may have exposed the person’s social security number, driver’s license number, or California identification card number.

AB 383 (Chau). Civil actions: discovery status conference.

Position: Support. This bill encourages discovery conferences that are a cost-effective and efficient way for the judge in the case to get a quick look at the controversy and try to resolve disputes without the hundreds or thousands of pages of notices, motions, points and authorities and separate statements, exhibits, oppositions, and replies generally required for a motion to compel.

Summary: Would authorize a court to conduct an informal discovery conference between the parties to a civil action upon request by a party or on the court’s own motion to discuss discovery matters in dispute between the parties, as specified. The bill would authorize a court that grants or orders an informal discovery conference to toll the deadline for filing a discovery motion.

AB 913 (Gray). Construction-related accessibility claims: extremely high-frequency litigants.

Position: Support. This bill addresses the real and growing problem of extremely high propensity litigants who routinely bring high dollar construction disability access lawsuits against public entities and others.

Summary: Would authorize a court to enter a prefiling order prohibiting an extremely high-frequency litigant, as defined, from filing any new litigation in the courts of this state without first obtaining leave of the presiding justice or presiding judge of the court where the litigation is proposed to be filed. The bill would require the clerk of the court to provide the Judicial Council with a copy of all prefiling orders, and would require the Judicial Council to maintain and annually disseminate a record of extremely high-frequency litigants subject to those prefiling orders, as specified.

AB 1024 (Kiley). Grand juries: peace officers: proceedings.

Position: Oppose. This bill unreasonably attempts to remove a judge’s discretion regarding disclosure of grand jury actions, in situations where the grand jury fails to return an indictment of a police officer.

Summary: Would require a court to disclose all or a part of a grand jury indictment proceeding, excluding the grand jury’s private deliberations, if the grand jury decides not to return an indictment in a grand jury inquiry into an offense that involves a shooting or use of excessive force by a peace officer, as defined, that led to the death of a person being detained or arrested by the peace officer, except as specified.

AB 1548 (Fong). Occupational safety and health: penalties.

Position: Support. This bill seeks uniform treatment on current occupational safety and health fines and penalty rebate policy is applied to local government entities.

Summary: Current law requires any civil or administrative penalty assessed pursuant to the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 against a school district, county board of education, county superintendent of schools, charter school, community college district, California State University, University of California, or joint powers agency performing education functions to be deposited with the Workplace Health and Safety Revolving Fund. Current law authorizes these entities to apply for a refund of the civil penalties assessed against them if specified conditions are met. This bill would expand the application of this section to public entities, defined as a city, county, city and county, district, public authority, public agency, and any other political subdivision.

SB 467 (Wilk). Civil actions: appearance by electronic means.

Position: Support. This bill would reduce the cost of litigation and save taxpayer dollars by permitting those who have provided appropriate notice to appear by electronic means that provide remote access to a conference, hearing, or proceeding in all civil cases.

Summary: Would permit a party who has provided notice to appear by electronic means that provide remote access to a conference, hearing, or proceeding in all civil cases, including probate, guardianship, conservatorship, juvenile, and family law proceedings.

SB 524 (Vidak). Employment: violations: good faith defense.

Position: Support. This bill would provide a safe harbor for employers who rely on a published opinion or policy of the Department of Industrial Relations.

Summary: This bill would permit a person to raise as an affirmative defense that, at the time of an alleged violation of statute or regulation in a judicial or administrative proceeding, the person was acting in good faith, had sought, relied upon, and conformed with a published opinion letter or enforcement policy of the division, and had provided true and correct information to the division in seeking the opinion letter or enforcement policy.

The Authority will continue to monitor these bills and others identified by CAJPA as the legislative session continues.

If you have any questions, please contact Abraham Han, Administrative Analyst.

News: Worthy

Risk Managers Roundtable

By Roy Angel, Senior Risk Manager

With a desire to conduct an open forum and address relevant topics voiced by Roundtable attendees, the Authority’s regional Risk Managers conducted three Risk Manager Roundtables in La Palma, Pismo Beach, and Palm Desert.  The Roundtables were presented in March and were well attended with 18 member agencies participating.  The open structure of the Roundtables resulted in rich and valuable dialogue between members and the Authority’s risk managers. 

Alex Mellor, Risk Manager, facilitated the Roundtable in Palm Desert.  Mellor shared “We had an informative discussion on the risk management process and other important issues including recreational marijuana, the Authority’s property insurance program, contractual risk transfer, and nepotism in the workplace.”  In La Palma, members attending the Roundtable discussed the contractual risk transfer manual, root cause analysis document, and other resources.  Other issues that were discussed included: parades, special event permits, and insurance coverage questions. Members attending the Roundtable in Pismo Beach discussed LossCAP liability, the workers’ compensation overview resource, and possibly creating a liability incident report.

In addition to the open discussion at the Roundtables, the Risk Managers presented an informational discussion on “The Risk Management Lifecycle.”  Participants learned about the five steps in the Risk Management Lifecycle: 1) identifying and analyzing risk exposures; 2) examining risk management techniques; 3) selecting risk management techniques; 4) implementing techniques; and, 5) monitoring results.  If you are interested in a copy of “The Risk Management Lifecycle” presentation materials, please email Roy Angel, Senior Risk Manager.

“Managing Homeless Issues” is the topic for the May Risk Managers Roundtable series.  The Roundtables will be held at the following locations:

  • 12:00 P.M.- 2:00 P.M., Tuesday, May 9, 2017

    California JPIA, California Room, 8081 Moody Street, La Palma

  • 12:00 P.M.- 2:00 P.M., Tuesday, May 16, 2017

    City of Indian Wells, City Hall, 44950 Eldorado Drive, Indian Wells

  • 12:00 P.M.- 2:00 P.M., Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    City of Arroyo Grande, Council Chambers, 300 E. Branch Street, Arroyo Grande

Jim Betts, Partner with Betts & Rubin and contract counsel for the City of Fresno, will present the Roundtable in La Palma.  Participants will learn about important steps that an agency can take to effectively manage homeless issues: how to develop a viable policy, how to avoid civil lawsuits when cleaning up encampments, and forming alliances with charitable organizations.  Betts’ will present in person on May 9 at the Authority campus; the presentation will be recorded and shown at the Roundtables in Indian Wells and Arroyo Grande.

To register for one of these sessions, go to https://cjpia.org/ and log into myJPIA.

Risk Solutions

NIOSH Noise Level App

By Alex Mellor, Risk Manager

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), twenty-two million employees in the United States are exposed to potentially damaging noise each year. [1]

In order to prevent occupational noise-induced hearing loss, the State of Californiaapp_niosh newsletter graphic regulates employee exposure to noise above a particular threshold. Where employees are exposed to a time-weighted average (TWA) above 85 decibels, the employer must develop and implement a formal hearing conservation program. [2]

Typically, occupational noise levels are tested by outfitting employees with wearablenoise dosimeters, which measure noise exposure levels in a particular environment over a specific time period, such as an eight-hour work day. Most public agencies do not own dosimeters, and must rely on a third party to perform noise exposure testing. However, a new application is available to help employers and employees alike to mitigate this exposure. Developed by NIOSH, the Sound Level Meter app is a tool to measure noise levels in the workplace and provide noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. Benefits of the app include:

  • Raises employee awareness about their work environment
  • Helps employees make informed decisions about potential hazards to their hearing
  • Serves as a research tool to collect noise exposure data
  • Promotes better hearing health and prevention efforts

The advantage of this application over wearable dosimeters, is that the app can be installed on any Apple device and used by employees, supervisors, or management to measure workplace noise exposure. Members should consider utilizing this app as a first step in determining the potential need for a formal hearing conservation program. If the collected data indicate that employees may be exposed to a TWA above 85 decibels, members should utilize wearable dosimeters to collect more accurate noise exposure data.

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter app can be downloaded to any compatible device from the Apple App Store. Further information can be obtained from the NIOSH website here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/app.html?s_cid=3ni7d2cdcmediaNoiseApp01172017.

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter app is just one health and safety application available for portable electronic devices. The app stores available for Apple, Google and Windows compatible devices all have a number of applications (many available for free or at little cost) to assist employers and employees with identifying and managing workplace health and safety exposures. Members may find one or more of these applications useful as a supplement to the agency health and safety program.

For more information, or for guidance on successfully developing and implementing a hearing conservation program, please contact your assigned Risk Manager.

Participant Waiver Execution and Retention

by Paul Zeglovitch, Liability Program Manager

Although member agencies provide year round recreational opportunities to their residents, spring is always a good time to revisit policies and procedures as we head toward the summer season.  Participant waivers should be at the top of your agency’s list when it comes to good risk management practices in recreation and other public programs. 

Now is the time to explore questions regarding the use of waivers and the content of your agency’s waiver form.  Take this opportunity to either create or review your waiver and compare it to the template that is available in the Authority’s online resources.  The language contained within the waiver is key and should include a description and location of the activity to include any field trip locations.  This information will remove any confusion as to what activities the waiver is releasing and where.

We also recommend that waivers be renewed on at least a yearly basis in order that they will be kept current and applicable should they be needed in litigation.

The recommended release and indemnity language can be found within the Authority’s Participant Waiver and Release document, located in the Authority’s online resources.

In addition to the information above, it is important to have the waiver properly executed.  That may seem obvious, but when minors are involved it becomes more important.  Have the verbiage in the waiver specify that the signing party declares that he or she is  a parent or legal guardian of the minor involved.  We recommend obtaining a wet signature when possible, however when using electronic forms, secure any information available regarding the origin of the online submission and retain same, along with the form, as well as an electronic signature and a “check box” that indicates the person signing understands the content of the release and is the child’s legal guardian.     

The retention of waivers is just as important as obtaining them.  These waivers are a critical piece of information in formulating a litigation defense for your agency.  Having them in an organized, easy to locate place is important.  Computer retention is best from an organizational and space standpoint, however if that is not possible due to workload, there should be an indexing system for the paper files that is easy to understand (by more than one employee) and follow.  We recommend retention of these records for three years from the date of signature and urge your agency to amend your document retention policy accordingly.

In the recent California JPIA wrongful death case of Chavez v. Santa Fe Springs the city’s waiver served to provide the basis for the jury rendering a defense verdict.  Jurors interviewed after the trial indicated that while they did have liability concerns, they felt they had to “follow the law” and honor the waiver.  By law, waivers should only be overlooked when they are obtained via fraudulent means or where gross negligence is present.  Fortunately, the jury found neither in the Chavez matter.

If you have questions or need additional assistance regarding participant waivers, please contact your assigned Risk Manager.

The Court Report

Long Beach Settles Disability Act Suit, Will Pay Millions to Repair Sidewalks

(Reprinted from the Press Telegram, April 12, 2017)

Long Beach will be required to spend roughly $200 million over three decades to bring its curbs and sidewalks into compliance with Americans With Disability Act mandates, attorneys announced this week.

The announcement follows a U.S. Central District Court judge’s Monday approval of a settlement between Long Beach’s city government and disability-rights attorneys representing five plaintiffs who alleged in a 2014 lawsuit that a lack of curb ramps and other infrastructure deficiencies amounted to discrimination against people who need wheelchairs or other assistance to get around town.

The settlement, pending the City Council’s approval, requires Long Beach officials to accomplish infrastructure upgrades throughout the entire city.

“Within five years, there will be a curb ramp at every location where a pedestrian crossing requires a curb,” said Andrew Lee, a partner at the Oakland law firm of Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho and one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Long Beach Public Works Director Craig Beck said city government has already hired a consultant to survey what exactly will need to be done to fulfill what he said both sides of the case now consider to be a valuable agreement.

Repair demands

The Disability Rights Legal Center, which has offices in Los Angeles, and Disability Rights Advocates, which has offices in Berkeley and New York City, also represented the five plaintiffs who sued over Long Beach’s curbs and sidewalks.

The deal:

  • Within five years, Long Beach officials must have all legally mandated curb ramps in place. This will require construction of some 4,500 new curb ramps.
  • Between years six and 20 of the settlement deal, Long Beach officials must spend up to $50 million to repair some 16,000 curb ramps that are damaged or otherwise inaccessible to disabled individuals.
  • Before 30 years are out, city government must spend up to $125 million to remedy broken sidewalks and crosswalks.
  • City government must also set aside more than $5 million during the first 10 years of the settlement period to make specific infrastructure fixes that disabled residents will be able to request.

Beck said City Hall already has the means to process such requests through its “rapid response program.”

Prior to the settlement, Public Works primarily dealt with access issues by responding to resident complaints, Beck said. Since 2015, however, Public Works has adopted a “complete streets” policy that requires workers to fix the likes of damaged gutters or curb ramps when they’re also handling a job on the adjacent street.

Scheduling repairs

The settlement gives city government up to two years to finish its survey of needed repairs. Once that is complete, Long Beach officials will be required to hold at least two public hearings and meet again with the plaintiffs and their attorneys to plan out how the work may be completed.

Long Beach’s infrastructure needs were at the forefront of city politics last year. Voters approved Measure A, a 10-year sales tax increase, in June. Measure A increases Long Beach’s sales tax rate by one percentage point during its first six years and is projected to result in some $384 million in tax revenue being directed to City Hall over its lifetime.

Mayor Robert Garcia promised during the Measure A campaign that much of taxpayers’ money would be spent on the likes of street and sidewalk repairs, although money has also been dedicating to restoring police and fire services.

City government has outlined how the first $150 million of Measure A revenues may be spent. Those plans include spending some $90 million on street repairs, as well as about $15 million to be dedicated for sidewalk fixes.

“There will be Measure A dollars that go into this, but the settlement won’t be dependent on Measure A,” Beck said.

News of the Long Beach settlement comes about two years after Los Angeles agreed to a similar deal. L.A. officials agreed to spend more than $1 billion over three decades to fix that city’s sidewalks.

Lee’s law firm and the Disability Rights Legal Center also worked on the Los Angeles case.

Forum 2017 black logo
Forum 2017 black logo