Thirty six weeks ago I wrote this post:
Spending Like Drunken Sailors, or David v. Goliath with an Open Checkbook
I didn't realize just how right I would turn out to be. Rich Ilgenfritz spent some time going through the legal bills Morgan Lewis has racked up defending the District in Students Doe vs. Lower Merion School District. My prediction? Scott Shafer and company are going to get really nice gift baskets from Morgan this Christmas.
How high will they go? Legal fees spiral in LMSD
At its current pace Lower Merion could end up spending more than $1 million a year in legal fees defending the Ardmore redistricting lawsuit if the case were to continue until June.
According to a review by Main Line Media News, between last June and November the Lower Merion School District rang up bills of nearly $550,000 in the first six months that Morgan Lewis has been representing the school district in the Ardmore redistricting case. Other figures provided by the district this week suggest the total has likely already surpassed $600,000 as of the end of January. That doesn’t include bills for February. So if the district hasn’t gotten them yet, February’s bills are probably already in the mail.
The largest bill for the district came last July when the district was billed a total of $207,525.94. The costs in the bills were broken down into two primary parts. One part lists the hourly wages earned by the attorneys who are working on the case. The other part includes expenditures such as duplication fees, the costs of a legal research service and taxi rides to hearings.
Of that $207,525.94 for July, $200,838 was for the hourly labor wages of the attorneys who worked the case that month. The expenses came in at $6,687.
What does LMSD have to say about this?
Young said the district keeps a budget reserve of $800,000 to cover any shortfalls or unexpected expenses. Last year the district spent $615,000 in legal fees.
Young said Morgan Lewis has represented the district in every aspect of what he called a highly complex case to date that has included responding to the plaintiff’s demands and analyzing and providing more than 20,000 documents. They also prepared numerous district elected officials, consultants and administrative personnel for depositions and complied with an extensive legal-briefing schedule.
“Counsel is working efficiently and at a discounted rate. This is a very expensive case to defend, but the district has a responsibility to defend itself against any complaint that is without merit,” Young wrote.
Oh yeah, and he didn't tell you that in last week's budget committee meeting, they agreed to cut $750,000 out of curriculum services next year. That's right. They're cutting the dollars that actually go to educate our children instead.
On the other hand, the "David" in this matchup (and yes, it has not escaped people that the attorney for the Plaintiffs is named "David") would be doing lots of creative fundraising, on the other hand:
LMVUE gets creative for legal bills
When it comes to paying legal costs, government bodies such as school districts and townships might have what seems like a bottomless pit thanks to taxpayers’ wallets. But when residents believe a government body has done an injustice to them, they often have to reach inside their own pockets to pay legal expenses.
So what have they been doing?
LMVUE members say they’ve done everything from setting up a table at Earth Day events in order to sell clothing and water ice to holding a multi-family garage sale that featured homemade jewelry.
There was also Lower Merion’s Got Talent, a youth talent show, and appeals from many local churches and community organizations that have asked their members for help.
So, dear friends and readers, if you'd like to help "David" here in this matchup, if you've found anything I've blogged over the past year and a half interesting, informative, entertaining or worthwhile, consider making a donation to LMVUE today. Any amount will do. Every cent goes to the legal fund for the Doe Plaintiffs. If you'd like to let them know it's from this blog, put the number "14" in there, for my 'handle'. Go to www.lmvue.org, you can donate through PayPal or mail a check.
PS For fun: If you can translate my "handle" into English = what it "means", I'll donate $25 to LMVUE in your name/handle as a prize. Just post your answer below.
These are my thoughts alone, not representative of any organization I am a member of in any capacity.