Monday, July 30, 2012

 

Dept. of Education wastes taxpayer money by failing to pay attorneys fees—and then getting sued for them


by Larry Geller

(see also: State running up legal fees on contempt/sanctions order, 7/19/2012)

After learning about the case linked above wherein the state has decided to risk a contempt ruling by refusing to pay court-ordered tuition for a special-needs student at a private school and may incur legal costs of $1-1.5 million, I decided to review some cases that are brought to federal court to see if there is a pattern here.

Today was the first day of my review. And today there is indeed a case before Judge Barry Kurren to recover fees that the state appears to have been obligated to pay. The complaint for CV 12-00032 notes that as prevailing party in a due process hearing, the attorney is entitled to payment of fees, but that “Attorneys fees and costs remain unpaid for all Plaintiffs.” The complaint notes that the state did not appeal the hearing decisions, and that the time for appeal has run out. The hearings in question were held in 2010 and 2011.

The caption of this federal case lists nine plaintiffs whose attorney’s fees and costs have not been paid.

Of course, this case has not yet been decided. When, as is likely, the federal court enforces federal law and orders the DOE to pay, there will be additional fees run up by this additional federal action.

And the DOE will not be paying these additional costs itself—you and I, taxpayers all, will have our pockets picked to pay these avoidable expenses.



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