The school year is about to begin, and California’s students are about to head back into the classroom. While school districts are always stretched tight, one thing that’s really hurting schools is abusive litigation, which is forcing districts to spend money fighting lawsuits instead of educating students.
That’s the finding of a recent report from California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. The report analyzed the litigation costs to 12 districts for fiscal years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013, and found that the districts combined spent more than $125.6 million on litigation, spending $96.1 million on outside counsel, and $29.4 million on verdicts and settlements. The report can be read here.
The 12 districts examined in this report account for less than 20 percent of the total enrollment of California’s K-12 public school districts. When the other districts are taken into account, who knows how many millions – or billions – of dollars our districts are spending?
This report makes it clear that California’s schools are just one more victim of the state’s plaintiffs’ attorneys, some of whom view lawsuits as a means to get rich rather than achieve justice. Because California’s laws encourage this behavior, our students are paying the price.
Californians need to make sure, especially as the November ballot approaches, that they know whether their candidates support legal reforms that would put an end to abuse like this. Legislators need to help solve the problem by passing legislation that stops abusive lawsuits, instead of encouraging them.
CALA Releases Report on Litigation Costs to Schools
‘Schools Cut Back as Litigation Costs Eat In to Budgets’ finds nearly
$125 million spent by 12 districts in three fiscal years
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) today released a report on litigation costs to 12 of California’s school districts, finding that in just three fiscal years, these schools spent $125 million on lawsuits.
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.
“At a time when a record number of our schools are in financial trouble and further education cuts could happen with a change in the economy, we cannot afford to allow these litigation costs to grow unchecked,” said Tom Scott, CALA Executive Director. “California continues to rank among the most litigious states in every study yet we rank at the bottom in many measures of student performance. The more dollars our schools have to pay in litigation costs, the less we have to improve our schools and student performance.”
The $125 million spent in just three years could have been put to better use across the state. That money could have paid the salaries of more teachers, purchased new textbooks, maintained busing programs, or paid for counselors.
“We hear story after story of activities schools are forced to cut, yet no one ever talks about one of the most unpredictable costs of all – litigation.” Scott said. “These numbers reflect just 12 of California’s school districts. With nearly 1,000 in the state, there’s no telling what the total number is.”
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.