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County takes steps to avoid lawsuits

Riverside County has taken further action to cut its legal fees and reduce its exposure to lawsuits.

One year after the board of supervisors created the Risk Management Steering Committee, board members have voted to give that panel more authority to evaluate lawsuits and make recommendations to county departments to avoid future suits, according to a statement.

Board members took their action Tuesday, ensuring that “the steering committee will take on greater responsibility through the implementation of corrective action controls with county departments.”

The county’s legal costs have dropped 15 percent since the committee was formed, and county officials hope to reduce those costs even more.

“All county departments have a role to play in the safety and security of our employees and community members,” said County Executive Officer George Johnson in the statement.  “These new risk management controls will reduce the county’s legal costs and create a safer environment in which we conduct county business.”

Once a claim against the county is approved, a study will be conducted and the department in question will be told how it might prevent similar lawsuits from being filed.  Training, policy changes, or new equipment are among the potential remedies. 

Lawsuit costs will be paid by insurance, not from a department’s budget, in order to not drain funds from a department’s budget.

Riverside County receives about 1,100 new claims every year, 85 percent of which are resolved without a payment, according to the statement.

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