Thursday, September 21, 2006

Santa Monica College Lawsuits

Cost of LitigationExactly how many lawsuits do Santa Monica College (SMC) and Santa Monica Community College District (SMCCD) entangle themselves in? I took a little field trip down to the Los Angeles Superior Court in downtown L.A. today and did some research. I counted a whopping 58 lawsuits in all. Some are still pending while others have either been dismissed or settled. Most involve Santa Monica College as a defendant, but some had SMC as the plaintiff. Two lawsuits were from the Santa Monica College Faculty Association.

What do people sue SMC for? Cases ranged from typical slip and falls to civil rights violations, compliance with the California Public Records Act, breach of contract, labor disputes, auto accidents, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, defamation, wrongful termination, and general personal injury. You name it and SMC has probably been sued for it. Unfortunately, these lawsuits cost the college considerable time and money to litigate. The District not only has its own attorneys at hand, but it retains an army of outside law firms at its beck and call. These law firms typically range from $160 to $250 an hour, plus expenses. Two law firms that repeatedly showed their faces as SMC's legal pit bulls were Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow and Canter and Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.

Law and Disorder
Perhaps SMC and the District should examine its risk management and negotiation strategies and develop ways to prevent lawsuits rather than exasperating them. Our student tuition and tax dollars could be better spent on improving our student services and paying our faculty rather than draining the college financially and the plaintiffs emotionally. In April 2006, SMC Faculty Association President Lantz Simpson wrote a fantastic article entitled "How SMC Is Run Like WAL-MART." I highly urge anyone interested in the fate of SMC to read this now. If you're interested in doing more research on SMC's litigation, I made a handy Adobe PDF file of all the cases with the dates filed as well as the parties and attorneys. You can view it HERE.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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