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School board amends legal agreement with King & Spalding
by Staff Reports
June 12, 2013 09:37 AM | 2923 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The DeKalb County Board of Education recently voted to amend a legal agreement that allows a lawsuit alleging fraud, waste and mismanagement by a former construction firm to move forward at no further expense to DeKalb taxpayers.

The amended agreement with King & Spalding also eliminates a provision that would have required the school district to pay upwards of $30 million in legal fees if the district elected to settle the case against the law firm’s recommendation. With that provision removed and King & Spalding shouldering all future costs, the case against Heery can proceed on its merits without the specter of taxpayers paying tens of millions in legal fees.

“This new agreement allows the parents and taxpayers of DeKalb County to seek justice in the Heery matter without the massive risks and inherent costs associated with the previous agreement,” said Board of Education Chairman Melvin Johnson. “We are appreciative of King & Spalding for acknowledging and removing these financial pressures on the district, and for moving forward with us in partnering in the Heery case.”

The school board alleges in a Superior Court lawsuit that Heery, in its role as manager of school construction projects, defrauded the school system and mismanaged tens of millions in taxpayer dollars.

Under a previous “contingency” agreement with King & Spalding, the school district would have been saddled with $30 million in legal expenses if the school district settled against the advice of its legal counsel. The new agreement eliminates that provision and removes from taxpayers all future legal fees and expenses associated with the case.

“The agreement the board approved allows us to seek justice for every parent, student and taxpayer in DeKalb County — without the odious concern for whether we can afford justice,” said DeKalb Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond. “It also ensures that $6 million already paid to King & Spalding will be returned to taxpayers in the event of a judgment or settlement in the case.”

“The school board should not have to walk away from a meritorious case because of financial pressures,” said Robert Khayat, a King & Spalding partner and one of the chief litigators in the Heery lawsuit. “The reason this legal battle has taken so long and costs so much is because Heery has followed a calculated strategy of maximum delay and legal maneuvering. This can only have been to make the case too difficult and costly for the school district to pursue. With King & Spalding shouldering all future costs, the case can be decided strictly on its merits.”

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