County Rebuffed In Efforts To Enforce Subrogation Rights Against Employees’ Tort Recoveries

I admit it, out of the universe of insurance and risk topics, subrogation may be the one with the least interest and glory attached to it.   However, just like that boring relative you have to see every Thanksgiving, it’s part of the family and we should make every effort to deal with it pleasantly.   With that said, I found the decision interesting in Opichka v. Racine County , 2006 WL 861099 (Wisc.App. April 5, 2006).  Maybe you will, too.  Maybe you won’t.  This blog provides no warranties.

Three sheriff’s deputies asked for time off work because of motor vehicle accidents in which they had been involved.  The County gave them paid time off, then asserted a subrogation lien against the deputies’ tort recoveries.  The appellate court held the subrogation liens were improper.  The County was entitled to subrogation for amounts it paid out because of the harm caused by the people responsible for the accidents.  The court, however, said the deputies had earned their time off, and consequently, the County had not paid out anything on account of the injuries.  It had, instead, paid out according to an accrued  benefit the employees could have used due to a variety of causes or reasons.

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