Toolbox Tuesday!! Why avoiding litigation is a good idea

The Toolbox is our firm’s training program regarding the discipline of students with disabilities.  This week Toolbox Tuesday will not directly address any issues along those lines, but rather, we will point out the high cost of violating the mandates of the law.  Consider the following three cases: 

Doe v. East Lyme Board of Education, 76 IDELR 101 (D.C. Conn. 2020)

Just because the attorneys’ fees bill was “substantial” did not mean it was “exorbitant.”  And so the district was ordered to pay $481,103 in fees in the original litigation, plus $56,715 for the legal work done to get the attorneys’ fees award.  That’s $537,818 of your tax dollars at work.   Then to get to the full cost of this case you would also have to add in the fees paid by the district to its own attorneys. Special ed litigation is expensive.  Losing is even more expensive.  Losing and not admitting it is even more costly, as the next case illustrates.

Quatro v. Tehachapi USD, 76 IDELR 99 (E.D. Cal. 2020)

Consider this timeline of events:

1-19-2016: Hearing officer rules against the school district and declares the parent a “prevailing party” entitled to recover attorneys’ fees.

8-16-2016: Since the district has not paid up, parent files suit to recover fees.

5-11-2017: Court awards parent $135,876.75 in fees and $2,805.00 in court costs.

6-8-2017: School district appeals that decision.

11-19-2018: 9th Circuit affirms the award.

1-8-2019: 9th Circuit awards an additional $41,267.50 in fees.

“Since that date,” according to the court, “Plaintiff has unsuccessfully sought to recover the monies owed, and Tehachapi has literally done nothing but stall, ignoring its obligations under state and federal law, as well as the Court’s judgment and mandate.”  Thus the court added postjudgment interest to the award, and ordered payment to be made by July 1.  And catch this:

The failure to comply will result in an order to show cause why the individual board members should not be held in contempt.


Tomorrow:  Bent over backwards lately?