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Updated: BIAW trial starts; allegation it “skimmed” interest

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Sep. 13, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
September 14, 2010 9:30 am

A long-simmering legal challenge to the Building Industry Association of Washington got under way in Thurston County today in a civil trial that could answer whether builders ever “skimmed” interest from a trust.

The money in question belongs to contractors enrolled in an industrial insurance rebate program managed by BIAW, whose lawyers deny the allegations of skimming and say the charges are politically motivated.

In opening statements, Andrew Friedman of the plaintiffs’ legal team said, “This case is about fixing some seriously flawed trust practices.” He said the trust was mismanaged and needs to be managed separately from BIAW.

Another plaintiff attorney, Knoll Lowney, said the suit could lead to BIAW repaying thousands of builders as much as $1.3 million for pocking interest on refund money from the state Department of Labor and Industries that was held a few days before putting it into a formal trust.

But defendants’ lawyer Harry Korrell countered in the opening of the Superior Court bench trial before Judge Carol Murphy that the lawsuit is actually a “hostile takeover of the BIAW’s “Retro” program and its governing board.

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