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

February 26, 2010 |  7:36 am

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