CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management's claims expenses spiked nearly $20 million in fiscal 2012 to $53.39 million, BRIM's new annual report shows.
Settlements of sexual-misconduct claims against state Corrections and Regional Jail employees and damages caused by the June 29 derecho last year were key factors in the spike, BRIM director Chuck Jones said Wednesday.
Despite those incidents, Jones noted that BRIM remains fiscally sound. In fact, BRIM's 2013 annual report shows that total net assets at the end of fiscal 2012 were $221.5 million, up $1.68 million from the previous year.
"We don't have an unfunded liability like we used to have years ago," Jones said.
During the budget year, BRIM settled claims on about 100 Regional Jail lawsuits and 75 Corrections lawsuits, with settlements running as much as $25,000 to $30,000 each, including legal fees, he said.
"It's a considerable amount of money," he said.
In 2012, Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority Executive Director Joe DeLong told legislators the authority was taking steps to crack down on what he called frivolous lawsuits filed by female inmates.
He said settlements of the claims at that point had cost more than $7 million, and told legislators it was less expensive to settle sexual misconduct lawsuits than to defend the cases in court.