[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors (now County Legislature) of Tompkins County as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 12-23-1968 by L.L. No. 1-1969]
The County of Tompkins shall assume the liability to save harmless and protect the County Clerk and employees in the County Clerk's office from financial loss arising out of any claim, demand, suit or judgment by reason of alleged negligence of said County Clerk or employees, provided that such act was committed in the discharge of their duties and within the scope of their employment.
The County of Tompkins shall arrange for purchase and maintain appropriate insurance with any insurance company authorized to do business in the State of New York for coverage against such liability.
[Adopted 5-20-1986 by L.L. No. 1-1986]
The New York State Legislature has enacted legislation permitting public entities, including counties, to provide for the defense and indemnification of officers and employees. The Tompkins County Legislature, through prior legislation, has agreed in principle to this concept. This article implements that concept.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any commissioner, member of a public board or commission, trustee, director, officer, employee, volunteer expressly authorized to participate in a publicly sponsored volunteer program, or any other person holding a position by election, appointment, or employment in the service of Tompkins County, whether or not compensated, but shall not include the Sheriff of the county or an independent contractor. The term "employee" shall include a former employee, his/her estate, or judicially appointed personal representative.
Upon compliance by the employee with the provisions of § 22-7 of this article, Tompkins County shall provide for the defense of the employee in any civil action or proceeding, state or federal, arising out of any alleged act or omission which occurred or allegedly occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his/her public employment or duties. This duty to provide for a defense shall not arise where such civil action or proceeding is brought by or at the behest of Tompkins County.
Subject to the conditions set forth in Subsection A of this section, the employee shall be entitled to representation by private counsel of his/her choice in any civil action or proceeding whenever the County Attorney determines that a conflict of interest exists, or whenever a court, upon appropriate motion or otherwise by a special proceeding, determines that a conflict of interest exists and that the employee is entitled to be represented by counsel of his/her choice; provided, however, that the County Attorney may require, as a condition to payment of the fees and expenses of such representation, that appropriate groups of such employees be represented by the same counsel. Reasonable attorney's fees and litigation expenses shall be paid by Tompkins County to such private counsel from time to time during the pendency of the civil action or proceeding with the approval of the Tompkins County Legislature.
Any dispute with respect to representation of multiple employees by a single counsel or the amount of litigation expenses or the reasonableness of attorney's fees shall be resolved by the court upon motion or by way of a special proceeding.
Where the employee delivers process and a written request for a defense to Tompkins County under § 22-7 of this article, the county shall take the necessary steps on behalf of the employee to avoid entry of a default judgment pending resolution of any question pertaining to the obligation to provide for a defense.
Tompkins County shall indemnify and hold its employees harmless in the amount of any judgment obtained against such employees in a state or federal court, or in the amount of any settlement of a claim, provided that the act or omission from which such judgment or claim arose occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his/her public employment or duties; provided further that in the case of a settlement, the duty to indemnify and hold harmless shall be conditioned upon the approval of the amount of settlement by the Tompkins County Legislature.
Except as otherwise provided by law, the duty to indemnify and hold harmless prescribed by this section shall not arise where the injury or damage resulted from intentional wrongdoing or recklessness on the part of the employee.
Nothing in this section shall authorize Tompkins County to indemnify or hold an employee harmless with respect to punitive or exemplary damages, fines, or penalties, or money recovered from an employee pursuant to § 51 of the General Municipal Law.
Upon entry of a final judgment against the employee, or upon settlement of the claim, the employee shall serve a copy of such judgment or settlement personally or be certified or registered mail within 30 days of the date of entry or settlement, upon the Chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature; and, if not inconsistent with the provisions of this article, the amount of such judgment or settlement shall be paid by Tompkins County.
The duty to indemnify or hold harmless and defend as prescribed by this article shall be conditioned upon:
Delivery by the employee to the County Attorney or to the Chairman of the County Legislature of a written request to provide for his/her defense, together with the original or copy of any summons, complaint, process, notice, pleading or demand within 10 days after he/she is served with such document; and
The full cooperation of the employee in the defense of such action or proceeding and in defense of any action or proceeding against Tompkins County based upon the same act or omission, and in the prosecution of any appeal.
The benefits of this article shall inure only to employees as defined herein, and shall not enlarge or diminish the rights of any other party, nor shall any provision of this article be construed to affect, alter, or repeal any provision of the Workers' Compensation Law.
This article shall not in any way affect the obligation of any claimant to give notice to Tompkins County under § 10 of the Court of Claims Act, § 50-e of the General Municipal Law, or any other provision of law.
Tompkins County is hereby authorized and empowered to purchase insurance from any insurance company created by or under the laws of the State of New York, or authorized by law to transact business in this state against any liability imposed by the provisions of this article, or to act as a self-insurer with respect thereto.
All payments made under the terms of this article, whether for insurance or otherwise, shall be deemed to be for a public purpose and shall be audited and paid in the same manner as other public charges.
The provisions of this article shall not be construed to impair, alter, limit, or modify the rights and obligations of any insurer under any policy of insurance.
Except as otherwise specifically provided for in this article, the provisions of this article shall not be construed in any way to impair, alter, modify, abrogate, limit, or restrict any immunity to liability available to or conferred upon any unit, entity, office, or employee of Tompkins County by, in accordance with, or by reason of any other provision of state or federal statutory or common law.
Except as otherwise provided for in this article, benefits accorded to employees under this article shall supplement and be available in addition to defense or indemnification protection conferred by any other enactment of the Tompkins County Legislature.