The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 6
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 6

Arlington Heights, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Page 6
Start Free Trial

MM8 SECTION 1 DAILY HERALD Suburtt SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008 U-46 suit price tag almost $5 million Experts say it's only the beginning of legal process BY KERRY LESTER Elgin Area School District U-46 has spent $4.6 million righting a discrimination lawsuit over the past 3'/> years. That could be just the tip of the taxpayer-funded iceberg, legal experts say. "That's a tremendous amount to spend this early in the case," said John Elson, a civil law professor at Northwestern University. "There's still a lot more to come." Filed in February 2005, the lawsuit claims U-46 violated the rights of black and Hispanic students by placing them in crowded, older schools; busing them farther and more often than white students; and providing them inferior opportunities. In a Feb. 7 memo, U-46 attorney Pat Broncato detailed the legal expenses billed by the district's two law firms from April 2004 through November. Washington, D.C. -based Hogan & Hartson billed $2,819,368. Fees from Chicago-based Franczek Sullivan totaled $1,690,718. Adding to defense costs are the services of Beatrix Arias, an Arizona State University professor who audited the district's bilingual program. The district says Arias was employed as a litigation consulting expert in the fall of 2004 and has remained in that capacity. As of March 4, Arias' total consulting fees were $114,330, Broncato said. With the total now pressing $5 million, the federal case still has a long way to go. The district and the lawyers for the Elgin families suing the district are only partially through the discovery phase. This is when the two sides exchange evidence. And while the discovery portion dealing with paper and electronic documents was supposed to end Nov. 30, the chapter was only formally closed this week with a judge's ruling. The two parties now are in the process of taking depositions from a number of key "information custodians," or potential witnesses. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason has not yet issued a deposition deadline. Civil law permits 10 custodian depositions to be taken by each party. Each additional deposition must be cleared by the court. Lawyers from Futterman & Howard, the law firm representing the Elgin families, have taken three depositions to date, attorney Carol Ashley said. The three all were involved with the district's handling of electronically stored information. Ashley plans to take more than 30 more depositions, from school board members, district administrators and key staff members. The district's lawyers already have said they oppose Ashley's plan to exceed the normal court limit. That means a battle will ensue, and add to the total cost of the case. Attorneys for the district so far have deposed 10 witnesses, said Patricia Whitten, with Franczek Sullivan. "As of right now we don't intend to take any more," Whitten said. Once the witness depositions are done, there will be depositions of each side's "experts" — people identified by each side to have credentials and expertise in areas related to the lawsuit. These depositions generally include travel, hotel and per diem costs, lawyers' fees and experts' fees. Typically, expert depositions are the final phase of discovery. A status hearing with Mason, set for March 20, likely will establish a timeline for the actions both sides need to take in the coming months. "After setting deposition deadlines, the judge will have to set a date for summary judgment," said Mark Weber, a civil law professor at DePaul University. During summary judgment, a judge can make a ruling based on evidence without going to trial. Summary judgment can take four or more months, Weber said. If summary judgment is not granted, the case will proceed to trial. Along the way, the topic of settlement will arise from time to time. All along, both sides have said — more or less — that they would be open to settlement talks. But those talks haven't happened since 2004, before the lawsuit was filed. "Our approach is to always try and settle these cases," Ashley said. "You want to get remedies to the kids as soon as possible." The extent of defense fees is important, says Northwestern's Elson, because they set "a sort of benchmark for settlement costs." Some of those costs could include covering the plain- PRICE MELTDOWN Save up to 50% We're having a PRICE MELTDOWN as we celebrate our anniversary at the Geneva Red Wing Shoe Store! Come in to save up to 50% off your favorite footwear. SAVE $25 on any regularly priced Red Wing work boots or shoes. SAVE $15 on any regularly priced men's casual shoes. SAVE $20 on any regularly priced Vasque footwear. These PRICE MELTDOWN SAVINGS are only available at the following Red Wing Shoe Store: GENEVA, IL 1749 S. Randall Rd. 630-845-3128 STORE HOURS: Mon-Th 10-8, Fri 10-7, Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5 SAVE SAVE SAVE Save 15% off all regularly priced Red Wing, Born & Dansko women's casual footwear. Available at the participating store only. Not valid with any other offer. All sales final. Limit one coupon per customer per day. Sale ends 03/16/08. Promo Code 43-38. Buy two accessories, get the third FREE (of equal or lesser value). Includes socks, gloves, belts, care products and insoles. Available at the participating stoie only. Not valid with any other offer All sales final. Limit one coupon per customer per day. Sale ends 03/18/08. Promo Code 43-12. Take an Additional $5 off any clearance shoes or boots or take an Additional $10 off per pair when you purchase two or more pairs. Available at the participating stoie only. Not valid with any other offer. All sales final. Limit one coupon pet customer per day. Sale ends 03/18/08. Promo Code 43-39. tiff's attorney fees — which in this case likely will exceed district expenses. Settlement costs also could include implementing and then monitoring the remedies Ashley referred to, such as changes in district personnel and/or programs. "In this particular case, they could be very steep," Elson said. UgaltoMMtar Here's how much Elgin Area School District U-46 says It has spent fighting a lawsuit charging discrimination. Franczek Sullivan legal (Ms 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 Total $278,024 $296,675 $546,141 $558,878 $1,679,719 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 Total $703,595 $968,855 $783,834 $2,819,368 Hogan & Hartson legal fees 2003-2004 $5,064 2004-2005 $358,020 Dr. Beatrlz Arias, consultant 2004-2008 $114,330 Cost to date $4,613,417 Source: Elgin Area School District U-46 if* No More Back Pain \/-ir I'D 1 Clrfirrrl lYenlmetil I'tir Knck I'nin <,ir/'fi Krlirf \\ithout Stirf/tri/ or Purlieus Treatment Effective Pain Treatment for Ostcoarthritis, Bulging Discs, Stenosis, Hcrniated Discs etc. is ii'.ilK uiHkins; Ini me. iilmi-nls. I \v< Call Now To Discover If Yon Qualify \Vilh \diir lixv consult iscounts lo\\anl MI I puked I'd office iiiul scl up ,1 >u I in .ink- Id ilc consultation. (' Service so good, it's like having a banker in the family! MONEY MARKET 27 offices in Chicago/and Arlington Heights Aurora Bolingbrook Chicago Cicero Deerfield Oes Plaines Elk Grove Village Elmhurst Frankfort 1515 W. Dundee Rd. 2430 W.Indian Trail 333 Quadrangle Dr. 20 N. Clark Dr. 161 N.Clark St. 1715 W. 47th St. 2356 S. KedzieAve. 5310W.CermakRd. 700 Osterman Ave. 518 Lee St. 678 Lee St. 900 East Higgins Rd. 700 W. North Ave. 20527 S. La Grange Rd. 847-342-1515 630-907-4500 630-226-4220 312-236-3400 312-580-7940 773-523-3145 773-542-9293 708-656-6330 847-317-2331 847-296-4714 847-296-5000 847-437-7446 630-833-4100 815-464-4900 Grayslake Gumee Harwood Heights Hillside Mount Prospect Naperville Niles Northbrook Oak Lawn Orland Park Palos Heights Villa Park Willow Springs Zion 480 West Center St. 6121 Washington St. 4747 N.Harlem Ave. 101N.WolfRd. 21 DOS. Elmhurst Rd. 3020 State Route 59 8720 W.Dempster St. 1220 Meadow Rd. 5665 W. 95th St. 15255 S. 94th St. 6521 West 127th St. 101 E. St. Charles Rd. 8480 S. Archer Rd. 2580 Sheridan Rd. 847-543-7900 847-855-2100 708-867-0011 708-449-8700 847-437-1800 630-637-8329 847-768-0140 847-205-4622 708-658-5000 708-459-5260 708-239-4220 630-993-3900 708-839-3054 847-731-5130 Now open in Napervilie! Member FDIC Plan the perfect wedding with COMMITMENTS third Sunday of every month

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 11,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Try it free