High Dollar Settlements Won’t Drive Up Insurance Premiums For Los Alamos County At This Time

Los Alamos Daily Post 

Ed Zendel of the New Mexico Self Insurers’ Fund said during an interview with the Los Alamos Daily Post that he does not anticipate an increase in premiums for Los Alamos County.

The question was raised in light of the recent $2 million settlement to three former Los Alamos Police Officers including Cmdr. Randy Foster, Cmdr. Scott Mills and Det. Paige Early.

Zendel confirmed that the three largest settlements in New Mexico in the last five years involved Los Alamos County. In addition to this month’s $2 million settlement, the County also settled with another detective for $600,000 in 2013 and a firefighter for $850,000 in 2015.

“Los Alamos County has been a long time member of the Self Insurers’ Fund and has been a very good risk with the exception of the last five years,” Zendel said. “At this time we do not anticipate an increase in premiums for Los Alamos County.”

County Risk Manager Joe Thomas said this morning that the County pays the following annual premiums to the New Mexico Self Insurers’ Fund:

  • General Liability $283,664;
  • Auto Liability $123,938.54;
  • Civil Rights $44,672.20; and
  • Law Enforcement $36,245.

County Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary, speaking as an individual councilor, also addressed the County’s recent lawsuits. She has called for all information surrounding the $2 million settlement be distributed to each council member for review.

“Since learning about the County’s latest settlement, I’ve formally requested of County staff that all information pertaining to this settlement, including depositions and findings, be distributed to all members of the County Council. Further, I’ve asked for a specific council session to be held in the short term to discuss the series of recent lawsuits,” O’Leary said. “As an individual Council member, I find the explanation of “insurance pays for it” to be absolutely unacceptable. I’m appalled by the string of lawsuits the County has lost and settled in the past several years; and by the actions that have driven them. While I’m quite sure that no one is happy about these outcomes; I think the Council has a duty to understand what the county needs to do systemically in order to stop these lawsuits from happening in the first place. No organization will ever be perfect; successful organizations learn from their mistakes and change in ways that ensure improved performance. I hope that other council members will join me in demanding dramatic improvement in this area.”

About the New Mexico Self Insurers’ Fund

The Municipal League administers the New Mexico Self Insurers’ Fund, which offers Workers’ Compensation, general liability, law enforcement, civil rights, errors and omissions, auto liability, auto physical damage, and property and volunteer coverage to its members. The Fund also offers group health, medical and life insurance.

About the New Mexico Municipal League

The New Mexico Municipal League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing and serving New Mexico’s cities, towns and villages. Its 105 member cities comprise 100 percent of the State’s municipal population and approximately 68 percent of its total population. Its largest member has 10,000 times the population of its smallest, yet each member city casts one delegate vote in setting policy and electing officers at the Annual Conference.

The League Board of Directors consists of 26 municipal officials elected by the membership and 10 ex officio subsection presidents. Day-to-day activities and the policies established by the Board and policy committees are carried out by a full-time executive director and a 25-member staff.


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