Monday, April 11, 2005

Billing Practices By Defense Lawyers in IDEA Suits

With all the talk about selfish plaintiffs' lawyers in "drive-by" ADA litigation, this article (via ACSBlog) about billing practices by defense lawyers in some IDEA suits is very interesting. An excerpt:

An Atlanta law firm that specializes nationwide in special education cases has charged the Hamilton County Schools over $1.7 million on a single case that is still ongoing.

The bill thus far from the Charles Weatherly law firm in the Deal autism case is at $1,742,636. Total taxpayer cost of the lawsuit is over $2.3 million counting pay for expert witnesses.

County Commissioner Larry Henry said he was advised the case could have been settled initially for $150,000, though county school officials deny that.

The same Atlanta law firm billed the Ravenswood School District in San Jose, Calif., $2.1 million at a time when the district was going bankrupt, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The newspaper said Ravenswood paid for first-class travel and food for the Atlanta firm.

The Mercury News wrote, "Even as the Ravenswood school district tumbled toward bankruptcy, its former leaders allowed an Atlanta law firm to rack up $2.1 million in bills in less than a year, including first-class plane tickets and meals at some of the Bay Area's priciest restaurants.

"A Mercury News review found that the Weatherly Law Firm, hired last year to defend Ravenswood in a special education lawsuit, charged the district serving the Peninsula's poorest children what amounts to $420 per student -- 5.5 percent of its annual budget. A new school board replaced the firm in December with county counsel charging $30,000 a year."


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