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Despite Risk Pool Coverage, the City of Alameda is Still on the Hook for Millions in Employment Lawsuits

Action Alameda News has learned that, despite coverage through the California Joint Powers Risk Management Authority, (CJPRMA) the City of Alameda is still potentially on the hook for $2 million in four employment related lawsuits. This is due to a $500,000 “retained limit” amount in the City’s coverage through the authority. Should former firefighter Ronald Vanderheiden, former Alameda Fire Chief David Kapler, former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, and former City Attorney Teresa Highsmith succeed in their employment-related cases against the City, the total the City would have to pay out before the CJPRMA steps in would be $2 million.

Officials at the CJPRMA confirmed that the $500,000 retained limit amount, stated in the declaration of coverage provided to the City of Alameda, functions like a deductible on an individual’s home or car insurance policy. Action Alameda News has obtained copies of the declaration of coverage, the CJPRMA Memorandum of Coverage, and other documents pertaining to the City of Alameda’s risk coverage through the Authority. The declaration of coverage states that the limit of coverage is “$40,000,000, subject to a retained limit of $500,000, ultimate net loss, for each occurrence as defined in the Memorandum of Coverage.” (There is an $8 million limit on employment practices related liability.)

In practical terms, this means that the City would have to pay out $500,000 of the $680,000 judgment against the City in favor of former firefighter Ronald Vanderheiden; the CJPRMA would pay the balance, or $180,000. Sources have indicated to Action Alameda News that the City of Alameda has appealed the judgment in the Vanderheiden case, but the City has not yet responded to a public records request seeking copies of the appeal brief.

Earlier this year, former Fire Chief David Kapler filed a $4 million wrongful-termination lawsuit against the City of Alameda. Both Highsmith and Gallant filed wrongful-termination suits as well. The City pays hundreds of thousands of dollars per year into the risk pool to maintain coverage.

13 comments to Despite Risk Pool Coverage, the City of Alameda is Still on the Hook for Millions in Employment Lawsuits

  • DHL

    Soooooooo……..this means CIty Attorney Donna Mooney was lying in April right after the judgement when she said (Alameda Sun, 4/29/2011): “The city belongs to a risk pool called California Joint Powers Risk Management Authority…The city has coverage through the pool for the full amount of the judgment.” Right?! Nice. (Not.) More of our city government doing what she does best: dissemble to disarm and hopefully disengage citizens. The opposite of sunshine, right?! It’s not working—-wonder why they haven’t noticed…. And I wonder why outperforming—while doing your job based upon real facts not favors—isn’t the norm at city hall.

  • Liz Williams

    Donna Mooney is either careless, which is scary, or lying in a creepy, paternalistic way: “There, there, don’t worry your tiny little brain about this.” I know what the deductibles on my insurance policies are; it’s hard to believe she doesn’t know the equivalent for the many lawsuits the city currently faces.

    Adding to Mooney’s credibility problem is the fact that Jennifer Ott knew about the deductible on April 20, 2011:

    Perhaps these two don’t talk?

    Yeah, right.

    So I’m left with a city attorney who is either careless or lying. And, as we all know, lawyers never lie.

  • Barb

    Let’s give Ms. Mooney the benefit of the doubt – ONCE. Her predecessor had just been fired. TAM was able to get away with sending confidential emails from the CA to firefighter negotiators. GILMORE thought she could fire anybody for anything she wanted such as not being able to get along with her unbridled arrogance. She and the triumverate of the COUNCIL BONTA and TAM were on the take from the Firefighters.
    Let’s hope ZACK’s family and everyone who watched in horror as he drowned in 3 foot water, sues the City for the emotional distress inflicted by Alameda’s mismanaged, self-absorbed government.

  • DHL

    And ALL OF THIS goes back to Mayor Gilmore whose first act as Mayor was to disrupt any continuity we might hope to have in the transition in governmenta management from AMG to Russo. It sounds like THAT is the real cause of many of the problems we are experiencing here.

  • Barb

    DHL You are so right! As if RUSSO can do anything with these three? Course being essentially a land use attorney, we know his task is to fleece the taxpayers to benefit the developers to benefit GILMROE TAM BONTA JOHNSON. I have no doubt that his contract is very well written and be sufficient to fund his retirement when he is fired.

  • 94502

    During a recent cc mtg, Tam snickered, while Russo chuckled, while stating that Russo drove a hard bargain on his own employment contract.

    The top thing on the minds of these “public servants” is their paycheck and their retirement pot of cash.

    All Gilmore thinks about is “Cash” as she stated, while smiling, during the 7/12 cc mtg.

    Keep digging, Action Alameda. There’s more to be uncovered.

  • Michael

    Donna Mooney is our alternate representative to the California Joint Powers Risk Management Authority.

    The pool of money isn’t free; it is all taxpayer funds. The folks in San Leandro, Petaluma, Chico and other communities are paying into the pool as well as Alamedans. We shouldn’t have the attitude of “Don’t worry, we don’t have to pay the whole bill.” Regardless of who pays, we are the ones responsible for what happens.

  • Barb

    Well since some of us are responsible for electing these twits in the first place, we have no one to blame but ourselves for not seeing through the firefighters and other SPECIAL INTERESTS that bought and paid for this triumverate.

    We’ll be seeing more than the Animal Shelter go in the future. Any anyone who thinks Ron Cowan has the money (and if he had would willingly give it up) to create and maintain soccer fields for their children, better not have given birth to those children yet.

  • Betty

    I just read that Bonta is jumping ship and running for a county seat. I will vote for him to get him out of town. Maybe there is hope.

  • alameda vigilante

    Yeah, remember candidates from Alameda offices (Appezzato, Johnson, Tam) usually LOSE when running for County Supe. If Bonta leaves for Sacto, Gilmore will just appoint another to vote with her & Tam. Also, John Russo’s contract is a public document. U can still view it in the City archives, if U want to pick it apart.

  • Anon

    Guess he smells a recall with all the national aclaim from the firefighters, I means national shame.

  • K Sanderberg

    If I were a member of the CJPRMA, I’d move that Alameda be eliminated from the pool. Then I’d submit a public record request asking for a list of employees who filed workers comp claims and are still on the City’s payroll after 12 months.

    The policy used to be “get them back to work or get them off the payroll” when Bill Norton, Liz Kingsley, and Patricia Born were in charge. Now we pay the injured person and a temporary fill while the case sits in limbo. It’s all in the hands of the City Attorney’s office. Firefighters who have been laid off were reinstated when active fire personnel filed workers comp claims. Now the City is paying for the replacements as well as the injured party.