As president of the Robla School District Board of Trustees, I take my duty to spend taxpayer dollars as effectively as possible very seriously.
That’s what makes it so frustrating when attorneys file abusive lawsuits against the district in search of a quick payday – something that happens across the state with alarming frequency. With each lawsuit, the district has to use taxpayer dollars in its defense. When those dollars are diverted to courtrooms instead of classrooms, the only winners are the personal injury lawyers and those trying to cash in at the expense of California’s children.
So during this year’s Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, I want to make sure my fellow citizens recognize how California’s laws enable and encourage lawsuits at every turn, and it is costing taxpayers – and our schools – dearly. According to a recent report from CALA, litigation costs for 12 California school districts over a period of three fiscal years from 2010 to 2013 were $125.6 million. Almost all of the districts examined faced multi-million dollar budget cuts during the years examined. High litigation costs contributed to budget crunches at districts across the state, resulting in fewer teachers and educational programs.
I know that some of these lawsuits are legitimate and those litigation costs are necessary for the district. But there are far too many abusive lawsuits that hike up the litigation costs for California schools and contribute to school budget problems. Our legal system is designed to provide justice for those who have been injured, not make a handful of plaintiffs and their attorneys richer. California’s citizens deserve to have their tax dollars earmarked for public education actually spent on public education, not siphoned off by unscrupulous attorneys who are willing to abuse the system to line their own pockets.
Sadly, this won’t change until California’s legislature passes meaningful legal reforms that remove the incentives that encourage lawsuit abuse in the first place. Until then, high litigation costs will likely continue to hurt our children’s education and waste precious taxpayer dollars.