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Brookfield Receives $1.147M Check in Liquidation Settlement

Second check reimburses over $2 million of $2.5 million paid in settlement of fatal accident.

The town received the second and final payment of $1,147,500 in the sale of its claim against Legion Insurance Company, the town’s insurer in 2000 when a falling tree on Pocono Road took the life of an innocent Brookfield resident driving by. The town settled an ensuing lawsuit in the matter, which was covered by Legion Insurance, but required $2.5 million out of pocket for the town.

The town filed a claim against the company to recoup that cost, however the case wasn’t settled before Legion filed for liquidation in 2003.

This second payment together with one of $892,500 received earlier this year equal $2,040,000, some 80 percent of what the town paid, said First Selectman Bill Davidson, who explained that the town’s claim against Legion was purchased by a third party, Liquidity Solutions, which issued the checks.

When Legion went into bankruptcy, the town filed in court for reparations and was told it was a “high priority claim,” Davidson said, meaning that Brookfield was positioned well on the list of parties expecting to be paid. However, there was no clear timetable on when the claim would be settled and there “was no expectation ever that we’d get this kind of reimbursement back,” he said.

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According to Davidson, an initial offer of less than $700,000 was made, however, under the advice of Danbury attorney Jack Garamella, who has been with the case since the tragic accident occurred, it was declined. The town made a single counter offer of $1,147,500 and which was accepted in September.

The second check was received last month and deposited in the town’s fund balance, part of which will be used to more fully fund the town’s pension liability.

Steven DeVaux October 02, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Brookfield's taxpayers deserve the full amount as a refund of un-necessary taxes.
Steven DeVaux October 02, 2012 at 12:09 PM
The current Davidson-Lasser administration learned nothing from their sacrifice L.A. A second event will cement the complete disregard for the safety of townsfolk.
Adele Friedman October 02, 2012 at 12:19 PM
It IS disturbing the number of dead and partially-dead trees right near roads, often, major, busy roads. Of particular concern to me right now is the tree close to Route 25 on the lawn of the Brookfield Library. There are many dead branches, hanging over the area where concert-goers sit during Library concerts. Almost directly across the road, also on Route 25, there is a very large tree at the entrance to Williams Park that doesn't appear healthy. I reported both of these trees earlier this summer, but have seen no action taken on either.
Howard Lasser October 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The Town has budgeted over $70,000 for tree removal. Based on the comments here, I will ask for an update on how these funds are being used at our next Selectmen's meeting.
Longtime Brookfield resident October 02, 2012 at 01:20 PM
These trees are a concern to a lot of Brookfield residents for both safety and for power failures during storms. I dont usually see eye to eye with Howard but can not see blaming him. If they have alloted 70k for these removals its up to us who live in Brookfield to contact the town about trees that concern them and let the town prioritise as best as possible. Also is there anyway to contact the Cl&P and Cable and telephone companies and discuss a full out tree maintence program and see if they will help fund as this could save all parties involved at some point in time - Proactive instead of reactive
Ken October 02, 2012 at 01:23 PM
It is good to hear that Brookfield was able to recover such a large percent from this bankrupt insurer. Payout rates in most bankruptcy cases are much less than $.80 per original $1.00.
Martin Badinelli October 02, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I don't follow Town government very closely but does the Town's Selectmen, apparently like Mr. Lasser above, only act based upon comments left following a local Patch article?! All anyone needs to do is drive down nearly any road in Brookfield to see the countless dangerous trees at hand; so, Mr. Lasser, rather than asking some question you, as an elected official, should already know the answer to, just open your eyes! If Brookfield was really interested in honoring the memory of the poor victim who tragically lost her life all those years ago - or safeguarding its citizens and visitors of today - the entirety of that $1.1475M check would be earmarked towards the Town's arboriculture needs. While Mr. Lasser may be trying to convince the reader that "...over $70,000" is a lot of money, in the scheme of the Town's $58M budget it is akin to the average homeowner allotting less than $100 per year towards their property's upkeep. Hmmm.
Rob Gianazza October 02, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Thank you Howard. Several months ago the Brookfield Tree Warden identified numerous trees for removal. Perhaps you could share a method for concerned residents to contact Town Hall about any concerns they may have?
Howard Lasser October 02, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Rob, I have been involved in the past in several tree related issues. I believe the process if for people to alert the Ralph Tedesco, our director of public works, and he refers it to the Tree Warden who makes a determination on the appropriate disposition. I will ask that this be confirmed and published on the Town’s web site and in the monthly newsletter.
Better in Brookfield? October 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Steve, maybe take some time of of bashing Davidson/Lasser and pick up a chain saw and start taking care of the tree problem. You can call it "Cutting trees to cut taxes"
John Hawley October 02, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Devaux made Brookfield a better place....he moved out.
Howard Lasser October 02, 2012 at 05:48 PM
For those interested here is what our Director of Public Works reports on our response for trees: 1. We regularly ride our roads, identify and mark dangerous trees and then schedule to take them down. 2. Some of the money is also used for storm response. 3. We also field complaints from residents and evaluate and take down trees as required. If a tree is in close proximity to power lines we cannot touch it. It is CL&P’ responsibility.
Adele Friedman October 02, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I have definitely had good response from contacting the Public Works office regarding what I believe are dangerous trees. As far as efficient use of taxpayer funds, they go much further if citizens report these situations. Especially if dangerous trees are located well off main roads, it is hardly efficient for Town employees to drive around looking for them. On the other hand, trees such as the ones I cited in my earlier post, both just feet off Route 25 on public properties, certainly should be noticed by Town employees going about their business. This summer, only yards from Town Hall, on Pocono Road at the Post Office, there was a completely-dead tree feet from Pocono Road and the outermost handicapped space at the post office. One would think this tree would have been noticed by Town employees passing it every day going to and from Town Hall. Once I called about it, action was VERY prompt. It was a huge hazard. Had it fallen, the best-case scenario would have been it blocking the exit from the Post Office.
Larry Samuel October 02, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I believe the town has been very responsible in handling tree management. We have only ourselves to blame for not reporting dangerious trees. Beyond that the town didn't plant the trees and they didn't make the deases, rains, wind and snow that bring the trees down. So report your problems as Howard stated or blame God our yourselves for traveling a road or driveway that has unsafe conditions. I hope the town uses some of the money to not only cut trees but retire some of the long term debt what was incured to pave roads that will need repaving before the debt is paid back.
Jeff Albarn October 02, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Agreed, the tree situation needs to be addressed. It is a huge liability to be asleep at the wheel and not procuring an intelligent tree line. Sidenote - the amount of garbage embedded along the road is astounding, only once I was able to spend some time walking through my neighborhood did I see how neglected the streets are...Problems upwards, and downwards...
bkmom October 02, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Firstly - let's not forget the victim who suffered the worst loss possible and the lessons that we need to learn from that. All financial considerations really are secondary. However, saying that - Brookfield (as all of Connecticut) is built in basically a forest. We live among trees and too many of them to make any huge difference no matter what we spend. Our towns were built over and around the trees and we chose to buy or rent here knowing that. If a town tried to cut down every diseased/dead tree, it would be bankrupt and it couldn't be done no matter how much time and manpower were invested in the task. There are no certainties with our town trees as Mother Nature will do whatever she likes no matter what risks we seek to minimize. Any prudent homeowner should be proactive in maintaining his/her property and that which immediately abutts it (if the property line extends to a main road). We can encourage town residents to be responsible citizens rather than run to the town which has finite resources. We need to look at which parties installed power lines where. If CL&P, it should be tasked with the responsibility of maintenance. Phone companies? Same thing. They would be better served (financially) in pruning and removal rather than reacting after a spell of bad weather or accident. Let's push back where we are able to and take a HARD stance with those utility companies where necessary....if they are threatened with a suit for negligence....hmmm????
bkmom October 02, 2012 at 09:23 PM
...and no, I don't have infinite resources either, but I do what I can in my neighborhood.
John Mainhart October 02, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Hopefully our town leaders will see the need to use this money wisely so we will have no increases in taxes this year.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 12:45 AM
They need to do the job they are being paid to do as the town's paid politicians. They need to get to work, even Howie the Hatchetman.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 12:46 AM
That's it Larry, blame the people for the paid politicians not earning their keep. Nice.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Have you seen the accumulated rust on the Route 7 overpasses?!!! They're going to start calling Davidson, Rusty.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Regardless of paying for it in electric bills or town tax bills, the answer is to clearcut 60 feet from the roads and powerlines and end the Circle of Havoc a measly $70,000 budget does. At a mere $3,000 per tree, that's not even 50 trees.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Yeah, let's raise the cable bill monthly rates some more to pay for it!
Ken October 03, 2012 at 03:37 AM
This money received in the bankruptcy settlement with the insurance company is not a windfall to the town. It is an 80% reimbursement of money that should have been paid by the town's insurer when the case was settled. When the insurer filed bankruptcy my understanding is the town had to make good on the settlement and pay the $2.5 million out of town funds.
Steven DeVaux October 03, 2012 at 09:46 AM
You are correct. It was taken - after a vote at a town meeting - from the town's fund balance after being represented as needed. It should be returned there since less than 20% of what was represented was used for the purpose that was presented to the people of Brookfield. If they want to use the money after it was returned, that would require another town meeting since it exceeds $20,000. It's not found money and anything over $20,000 goes to a town meeting. Anything over $1 million goes to referendum. Using it for the pension without the process would be like bonding the roads in a referendum and then using the money from the bonds to pay for the artificial playing field at Cadigan.
Howard Lasser October 03, 2012 at 09:49 AM
Just to correct the misstatements. The payment was made in three installments and was included in the annual budget. Funds were not taken from fund balance. It is correct that any disposition of the funds would have to go to Town Meeting if over $20,000. The $1 million limit for a referendum only applys to borrowing not spending.
Kathy Wandelmaier October 03, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Adele, You probably already know that the trees along Rt. 25 are the responsibility of the state, not the Town of Brookfield. The Congregational Church (I am a member) has a large tree on 25 that we asked the State to take a look at. The said it has to come down. My guess is that they will take care of all three trees at one time, but when that will happen is anyone's guess. They looked at our tree in May and said they'd be back in August. Maybe.

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