Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: WVSOS Warner calls for oversight of WV Board of Risk & Insurance Management

Release from the Office of the W.Va. Secretary of State:

The WV Board of Risk & Insurance Management (BRIM) is the state agency that is responsible for handling lawsuits brought against any and all state, county and municipal governments. Earlier this year, 10 former employees of the WV Secretary of State’s Office jointly brought lawsuits against the office for being terminated when current Secretary of State Mac Warner took office.

“My administration has been able to achieve some very significant accomplishments over the last 21 months,” Warner said.  “These accomplishments for the taxpayers, our business community and the voters were only made possible by the hard-working, professional staff in my office.”

Some of the cases brought by the terminated employees were settled by BRIM for outrageous amounts last month without Warner’s blessing or consent.  Additionally, and despite Warner’s repeated requests to BRIM to take the lawsuits to a jury of citizens, BRIM notified Warner late Wednesday evening that they planned to move forward with settlement negotiations of the remaining cases.

On Thursday, BRIM negotiated further settlements on the remaining cases with the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The settlements for all 10 cases now exceeds $3,000,000.

Warner maintains that all 10 of the employees were classified as “at will” employees. All such employees are required to sign an employment contract acknowledging that they are classified as “at will” and can be terminated for any reason, or for no reason at all.

“I asked BRIM to take every one of these cases to a jury.  All of these individuals were “at will and pleasure” employees of the Secretary of State’s Office. Agency heads and employees alike have the discretion to terminate “at will” employment. Any change to that interpretation is a legislative decision, not BRIM’s,” Warner said.

Warner is confident that had BRIM allowed the lawsuits to go to a jury, the jury would find that the terminations were necessary and proper, and that there was no wrongdoing on Warner’s part.

“BRIM spends millions of dollars every year to settle frivolous lawsuits based on a flawed accounting practice they call ‘risk management’.  That practice allows BRIM to authorize huge settlement amounts to avoid trial at all costs. BRIM settles these types of lawsuits without the approval or consent of the agency head involved, and without oversight by the Governor or the Legislature. They answer to no one. That has to change,” Warner said.


Warner said that he will meet with legislative leaders to discuss a comprehensive review of BRIM’s operating procedures.



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