For Immediate Release: August 26, 2014
Contact: Maryann Marino, 949-375-0856
Santa Ana Unified School District Spent More Than $6.4 Million on Litigation Over Three Years While Facing Budget Cuts, Report Finds
California’s Unbalanced Legal System Forces Districts to Bear High Litigation Costs, Citizen Watchdog Group Says
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) today released a report analyzing litigation costs to Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) and 11 other California school districts over a period of three fiscal years from 2010 to 2013. The report found that SAUSD spent $6.4 million on litigation costs over the three years, and that all the districts combined spent $125.6 million.
High litigation costs contributed to budget crunches at districts across the state, resulting in fewer educational programs. SAUSD, as well as all of the other districts, faced multi-million dollar budget cuts during the years examined.
“California’s schools rank poorly compared to other states,” said Tom Scott, CALA Executive Director. “When abusive lawsuits force schools have to pay high litigation costs, it reduces the funds available to improve our schools and student performance.”
“Passing common sense legal reforms would reduce the number of abusive lawsuits school districts face, and allow schools to allocate more resources where they’re needed,” Scott continued. “These numbers reflect just 12 of California’s school districts. With nearly 1,000 districts in the state, there’s no telling what the total number is, and how badly the cost of litigation is hurting our education system.”
In both 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, SAUSD paid more than $2.25 million in legal settlements, jury awards, and outside counsel. In 2013, the district had to tap its reserves to avoid budget cuts, resulting in having its credit downgraded.
“California’s school districts should be able to focus their time and resources on educating students,” said Cypress School Board Member Steve Blount. “But because California’s legal system encourages abusive lawsuits, the district is forced to spend precious tax dollars fighting abusive lawsuits from plaintiffs’ lawyers looking to make an easy buck. This is just one more reason our legal system needs to be reformed to prevent abuse of our courts.”
The report examined verdicts, settlements and outside counsel costs to Central Unified School District (Fresno), Elk Grove Unified School District, Kern High School District, Long Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, San Bernardino City Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, San Jose Unified School District, Santa Ana Unified School District, and Stockton Unified School District.
The report in its entirety can be found on www.cala.com.
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about the negative effects of lawsuit abuse and challenging those who abuse our legal system for personal gain.