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MTA will audit litigation costs amid questions over 15-year legal battle

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2009/01/22/subway.jpg The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved an internal audit of the agency’s litigation costs amid questions about how much the agency has spend on a long-running lawsuit with contractors.

Some MTA board members called for the audit, which was approved unanimously, after reports that the organization had spent more than $34 million litigating one case over the last 15 years -- even though the most the agency could win in damages would be about half that sum. That case involves contractor Tutor-Saliba and issues during construction of the Red Line subway.

With the agency now considering fare increases and service cuts, some officials are calling for an audit of the expenditures and wonder if the lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Many MTA board members disagree, saying Tutor-Saliba tried to cheat the agency out of millions of dollars by submitting a low bid and then asking for dozens of change orders and other requests that dramatically increased the price of constructing parts of the Red Line subway.

--Ari B. Bloomekatz

Photo: L.A. Times file

Comments () | Archives (5)

Really? Spend 34 million to recoup 17 million? Any MTA board member who thinks that makes sense should be replaced. There is no accountability for these people.

It seems that if MTA would only be able to recapture half of the amount in damages that it is seeking, it seems to make sense to abort the lawsuit. This is a public entity, and the lawsuit should not be chased after, just because of suing on principle. MTA cannot, and should not, afford it.

This is an obvious case of a vendetta, reather than a legal battle... whoever would spend this much just to win has an ego larger than the case itself. A perfect example of unchecked officials running our state into the ground.
nice work MTA.

The question is - why didn't MTA set a "value" on the case before suing and follow longstanding litigation/settlement strategies to stop bleeding out when they hit that number (either as an incoming settlement # or an outgoing cost #)? Sounds to me like nobody over there is minding the store because they aren't accountable. Most corporations are the same - they could prevent litigation or settle early, but since that would come out of departmental annual budgets (again, the costs or the reduced income), they push it off into "unforeseen costs" budgets where they are not accountable. Similar to Congress passing "Emergency War Bills" through the entire Bush Administration. It was never an emergency, even in the first year, but Bush didn't want to pay the costs for his egomania, so he shoved them off to our grandkids. Same dynamic - moving the liability into another area of the "business" to avoid accountability. You know who can't get away with that? US - regular people have to pay even catastrophic costs out of annual earnings. Funny how that works.

Doesn't the contract have a clause for the winner to recoup attorney costs? If the MTA wins, won't they be able to recover attorneys fees in addition to damages?


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