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March 23, 1971
Honorable Earl F. Angevine
Court House Annex
Mount Vernon, Washington 98273
Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 50 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
Where a law enforcement officer or fire fighter who is a member of the Washington law enforcement officers' and fire fighters' retirement system is injured in the performance of his duties in consequence of tortious conduct on the part of the county, city or district by which he is employed, including its officials or employees, does the fact that his disability is also compensable under the provisions of chapter 41.26 RCW, governing the aforesaid retirement system, constitute a defense to liability on the part of the employer?
In our opinion, this question must be answered in the negative for essentially the same reasons as appear in AGO 1967 No. 40 [[to C. W. "Red" Beck, State Representative on December 5, 1967]], copy enclosed, with respect to members of the state volunteer firemen's pension system.
Simply stated, in the case of neither of these pension systems has the legislature enacted any sort of an "immunity" provision comparable to RCW 51.04.010 dealing with employer liability with respect to injuries incurred in the course of employment by employees who are under the coverage of our state workmen's compensation laws.
There is, however, presently pending a bill before the current session of the legislature which, if enacted, would establish some degree of employer immunity within this area. See, House Bill No. 1052 [[H.B. 1052]], copy enclosed, with particular reference to §§ 10 and 11 thereof.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General