Regulatory Compliance: It’s the Little Things…

At some point, nearly every regulatory client has asked me, in a tone of incredulity, why “such a little thing” mattered to a regulating agency. Often the client also asks why a government regulator focuses on the “little guy” when big business appears to skate through regulatory compliance with no issues. The second answer is far simpler but answering it first leads us to part of the answer for the first question. How Big Businesses Treat Regulatory Compliance Big businesses appear to skate through regulatory matters without issues, in a sense, because they are big. Being big, they hire regulatory compliance experts to eliminate issues and quickly correct any problems that do come up. They have support personnel to do the actual work. The proactively address most problems before they get to the point of administrative sanctions or lawsuits. This is not to say big businesses don’t have regulatory problems: many do. Some businesses simply don’t bother to comply and have problems as a result. But most big businesses place an emphasis on regulatory compliance. They recognize that compliance failure can be a business-ending proposition. They place a priority on regulatory compliance. Simply making regulatory errors can put a company under heightened scrutiny, causing more frequent examinations and other disruptive and costly consequences. A series of errors, or repeated errors, may also raise questions that lead to more serious investigations or prosecutions. Each situation drags at a company’s bottom line and pulls focus from the company’s mission and vision. As a result, most big businesses solve their regulatory issues quickly. They hire staff to address compliance. They include it...

Failure to Reconvey: Quiet Title Without a Quiet Title Action

What do you do when a seller fails to reconvey the title to property following payment of the loan, then dies? Failure to reconvey puts a cloud on the title that must be quieted. However, a quiet title action can be a drawn out and expensive matter. Is there a way to obtain a quiet title without a quiet title action? Failure to Reconvey Recently, a client called in a panic on a Friday afternoon. She was selling her home and it was closing day of her sale. The former owner had failed to reconvey the property and then died. The old title company’s solution to the failure to reconvey fell through. The new title company had just informed my client that they would not issue a title insurance policy without a hold-back of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also said that she needed a quiet title, that this would require a quiet title action, which would take six to nine months, and the costs would be her responsibility. However, the sale could not close without the title insurance policy. My client obtained an extension of the closing date, granted the buyers a rental agreement at no cost to them while she worked to enable the sale to close. However, she was frustrated, angry, and afraid she was about to have no house, no money, months of litigation she could ill afford, and all the liability of having renters with no money for the rent. My client had purchased the home with seller financing nineteen years earlier on a five year Note backed by a Deed of Trust....

Commission’s Back Pay Award Exceeded Its Authority

Decision: 141103 – City of Medina v Skinner 711571 On November 3, the Court of Appeals, Division I held that the Civil Service Commission’s Back Pay Award Exceeded Its Authority when it awarded back pay and benefits after it had modifed Officer Skinner’s discipline. Lieutenant Roger Skinner was terminated from his position with the City of Medina Police Department for a violation of department standards. Skinner appealed his dismissal to the City’s Civil Service Commission. The Commission found that the City acted in good faith and with just cause when it disciplined Skinner. It also found that the City did not have cause to terminate Skinner. The Commission ordered the City to set aside Skinner’s discharge. Instead of discharge, the Commission ordered Skinner to be suspended without pay and benefits for sixty days.  It also ordered Skinner to be demoted to patrol officer effective the last day of his suspension and ordered the City to pay Skinner back pay and benefits as a patrol officer from the end of the suspension until his health precluded his return to work.  The Commission retained jurisdiction over the matter until resolution of what it called the “remedy phase.” It said that it would set a hearing as to implementation of its order if the parties could not resolve it through stipulation. The City moved for partial reconsideration, challenging the Commission’s award of back pay and benefits.  The Commission denied the motion stating that issues regarding the offset of Skinner’s wages or earnings after his suspension would be addressed during the remedy phase. The City applied for a statutory writ of review under Chapter 7.16 RCW, arguing...