Central Basin Water customers pick up tab for board member&#39s automobile accident

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[4 min 27 sec]

Central Basin Water District

An undated photo showing the set up of Central Basin Water District board member Art Chacon (appropriate), from the district’;s official site.

Karen Foshay/KPCC

Central Basin Water District board member Ar2rk Chacon driving away on Feb. 24, 2014 right after KPCC tried to ask him queries about his 2010 accident.


Pay attention Now

[4 min 27 sec]

Central Basin Municipal Water District ratepayers are footing the bill to the tune of $ 79,000 to shell out claims arising from a 2010 6-automobile automobile accident involving board member Art Chacon, despite a finding that Chacon was not doing work at the time of the accident and was at fault, in accordance to insurance and other data.

The accident occurred about 5:forty p.m. on a Thursday in November 2010. Chacon was driving a Nissan Frontier house southbound in the normal rush hour site visitors on the 710 freeway.

In accordance to a report by the California Highway Patrol, Chacon was making use of a cellphone and driving at an unsafe velocity. The resulting 6-car pileup was so poor, the CHP shut down 3 lanes of traffic close to the 710 and 105 interchange so ambulances could get in.

Though Central Basin’;s insurance coverage authority determined Chacon was off the clock at the time of the crash, information show the water district has paid out $ sixteen,000 to settle a claim associated to damages and injuries.

Associated: What took place to the $ 2.7m in a Central Basin trust fund?

Chacon has also received $ 63,000 in state workers compensation payments for injuries he explained he suffered throughout the crash, data show.

When asked by KPCC on Feb. 24th about the car accident, Chacon refused to comment and drove off in a black Mercedes.

Chacon previously told state officials that he was on duty at the time of the crash. In confidential data obtained by KPCC, he explained a Montebello commissioner had asked him to examine the situation of a road close to a Central Basin building internet site, and he was on his way residence from there when the accident occurred.

2 other Central Basin board members who spoke to KPCC – Leticia Vasquez and Jim Roybal – stated they have never ever inspected potholes or roads as part of their responsibilities as board members.

“We set policy. We are not technical people who inspect pipes or roads or anything at all,” Roybal stated, including that Chacon’s story “would seem far fetched” and “rather dubious.”

3 drivers who were hurt in the crash sued Chacon and his brother, Hector, whose car Art was driving.  Neither brother had insurance coverage, according to court documents filed by Infinity Insurance, which represented 2 of the drivers in 1 situation.

A court awarded Infinity and Wawanesa Insurance coverage, which represented the third driver, a total of $ thirty,000.

After Ar2rk Chacon was ordered to pay out the judgments, the Association for California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority (ACWA/JPIA), the public company responsible for paying out Central Basin’s claims, was asked to spend the judgments.

“It was the first time in thirty many years I’ve been asked to indemnify a person after they’ve received 2 judgments against them,” explained ACWA/JPIA lawyer Robert Gokoo, an attorney with the insurance coverage authority.

Refused to pay out

Soon after reviewing the situation, ACWA/JPIA denied the claim it concluded that the street inspection had practically nothing to do with Chacon’s duties as a Central Basin board member, calling it “private” and “discretionary.” 

“Director Chacon acknowledged his total lack of education, knowledge and training in the development industry,” the rejection letter explained, including, “His potential to figure out regardless of whether there was any issue with the asphalt, as reported by the commissioner, is constrained to that of a lay individual.”

Central Basin kept up its efforts on Chacon’;s behalf. 

In November 2012, Central Basin hired the Sedgwick law firm to deal with Chacon’s case, according to billing data obtained by KPCC. The company has billed about $ 13,000 for its operate on the matter. 

Last September, the insurance coverage authority once more rejected the Chacon claim.

But Central Basin and Sedgwick are not giving up.

In a Jan. 20, 2014 confidential letter to Central Basin General Manager Tony Perez obtained by KPCC, Sedgwick lawyer Curtis Parvin reiterated the firm’s opinion that Chacon was acting “in the program and scope of his employment” when he inspected the road.

And 2 weeks ago, Perez agreed to have Central Basin shell out $ sixteen,000 to settle a single of the 2 judgments against Chacon, in accordance to his spokesman, Joseph Legaspi.  Central Basin intends to request the insurance coverage authority for reimbursement at an August court hearing, he added. 

Perez determined to approve the payment since it is “our duty to…defend” board members “to the ideal of our capability” while Central Basin appeals ACWA/JPIA’;s rejection of Chacon’;s claim, explained Legaspi.

It is unclear who accredited Chacon’;s workers’; compensation declare attempts to attain the officials at ACWA/JPIA handling that situation had been unsuccessful

Former Central Basin General Manager Ar2rk Aguilar dealt an additional blow to Chacon’;s story in the course of a November 2013 deposition on an unrelated matter. Aguilar stated that, to his understanding, Chacon was not on company organization at the time of the car accident. When asked if Chacon had asked him to back his story about currently being on Central Basin company, Aguilar mentioned, “yes.”

“This entire narrative raises a amount of inquiries as to what was genuinely happening as to the car accident that took place and regardless of whether Director Chacon should’ve been reimbursed and whether he should’ve been ready to get worker’s compensation,” said Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson.

Central Basin board members Vasquez and Roybal stated they were unaware of the lawsuit payout and Chacon’;s workers’; compensation payment right up until KPCC informed them. Both explained the board had not taken up either matter. Roybal mentioned the lawsuit settlement ought to have come before the board.

Of the remaining board members, Phil Hawkins refused comment, and Bob Apodaca was unavailable.

The concerns surrounding the dealing with of Chacon’;s accident are just the newest difficulties for Central Basin, which serves far more than 2 million clients in 24 southeast L.A. cities. The company is also the topic of an FBI investigation into its handling of a $ 2.6 million trust fund. 

A automobile allowance but no license

Meanwhile, as Central Basin discounts with the fallout from his accident, Chacon continues to obtain a $ 590 month-to-month car allowance, even even though as of last Friday, DMV records display he does not have a valid driver’s license. Chacon’;s license has been suspended quite a few times given that 2011, according to the information.

In accordance to Central Basin’s Code of Conduct, board members should have a valid driver’s license and insurance in purchase to travel by private vehicle whilst on district enterprise.

“It is a relatively of a sticky predicament for the Central Basin to be having to pay for a auto allowance for somebody who shouldn’t be driving a vehicle,” said Loyola Law School’s Levinson.

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