Litigation

 

The EdCounsel team defends and represents public school districts in all types of litigation matters.  Our defense experience covers the full range of issues facing today’s schools, school boards, and school leaders.  On occasion, we represent schools in asserting their rights against other governmental entities, contractors, or in matters related to property. We have extensive experience successfully representing schools and educational leaders in all phases of litigation in state courts, federal courts, and before numerous administrative agencies.  Our attorneys are trial lawyers and appellate advocates that have handled landmark school litigation from trial through appeals.  We make it our priority to navigate districts through the issues, protect and defend their interests, and to resolve issues through trial or dispute resolution.

In defending schools, Boards, and school leaders, insurers often appoint our litigation team to handle pending litigation matters.  Our litigation team maintains strong relationships and  receives appointments from numerous insurers—all of which helps our firm better serve public schools.

Litigation

Labor and Employment

Many of our clients serve as the largest employers in their communities.  With that privilege comes the responsibility of working through a myriad of state and federal employment laws.  Our team represents schools and school leaders in a number of litigation matters related to employment and collective bargaining.   Our firm has successfully represented schools and individually named school leaders in discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination cases brought by employees.   Our firm regularly handles claims pf discrimination from the administrative process and through litigation, and is familiar with the nuances of discrimination laws and recent trends in their interpretations.

Our team’s attorneys have extensive experience representing public school districts in collective bargaining matters involving teacher and non-teacher groups.  Our firm has handled numerous legal challenges brought by unions from trial to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Board and Election Litigation

Our attorneys have successfully handled matters related to elections and Board disputes.  For example, our litigation team recently represented a school district in a suit brought by a board member that failed to attend a meeting for three months and had vacated their seat on the Board.  The former board member sued to be reinstated to the Board.  Following briefing and oral arguments, the Court dismissed the lawsuit.  Our team frequently advises our clients on election and Board Policy matters and their implications and litigation risks.

Discrimination 

Much of the litigation our school attorneys handle involves allegations that a school district discriminated against an employee or a student, including claims pursuant to the Missouri Human Rights Act,  Kansas Act Against Discrimination, Title VI or Title VII/Title IX.  Because of the shift in claims from these federal statutes to claims being made under the Missouri Human Rights Act, today, our attorneys are often asked to defend claims of discrimination and harassment under state discrimination statutes and do so on a regular basis.  In handling a significant number of discrimination charges from the administrative process and through litigation, our firm is familiar to the nuances of the law and recent trends in their interpretations.

School District Insurance Defense

In defending schools, Boards, and school leaders, insurers often appoint our litigation team to handle pending litigation matters.  Our litigation team maintains strong relationships and receives appointments from numerous insurers—all of which helps our firm better serve public schools.  Often, a claim or lawsuit will initiate insurance coverage for the school district.  Our team works closely with both the insurer and the school district to evaluate, process, and effectively defend pending claims.  Our firm works closely with MUSIC, Gallagher Bassett, Wright Risk Management, AIG, and other insurers to protect and defend our district clients.

Personal Injury  and Tort Claims

Our litigation team frequently represents school districts and school leaders in cases where individuals may be injured on school property or as part of a school event.  Our team has successfully used motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment to resolve such claims under theories of sovereign and official immunity.  We have also successfully represented schools and school board members in defamation, negligence, and negligent supervision claims, having successfully defeated such claims on motions to dismiss.

Contract and Construction Disputes

Our litigation team has successfully resolved numerous disputes with vendors, contractors, bonding companies, and other entities both before and during litigation.  School Districts are often faced with unique issues with contractors and vendors in which a school may need to enforce contractual rights by suing the contractor, or be forced to defend claims from the same.

Our team has handled bid protest lawsuits, disputes regarding liquidated damages, project completion, change orders, delay claims, and other contract disputes.  We represent schools in construction disputes when it becomes necessary to either litigate or arbitrate contested issues that arise related to construction.  We have successfully represented school districts in construction disputes before both arbitration panels and in court, and have satisfactorily resolved disputes through alternative resolution methods.

Student Discipline

We regularly advise school districts in the successful management of student discipline while honoring constitutional and statutory rights of students.  On occasion, students and parents will challenge disciplinary decisions made by school leaders and school boards.  Our team assists schools with processing decisions for long-term discipline, student appeals to the Board, and litigation involving the same.  Our team successfully litigated cases before state and federal courts related long-term discipline appeals. Often those cases arise from alleged deprivation of constitutional rights.

Real Estate and Property

Our litigation team has experience litigating and trying cases related to eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and other real estate and property disputes.  Having tried such cases to a jury, our team understands the nuances of presenting complex property issues to both the Court and jury.

Taxing Authority and Other Governmental Entities 

Our litigation team represents school districts in disputes that may arise with the state, federal agencies, counties, taxing jurisdictions, municipalities, and other entities.  Our firm recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a school district for the loss of tax revenue resulting from an approved development plan.  After deposing numerous municipal officials, the municipality settled their claim with the school district for $3 million.  Our team has also represented school districts in zoning and building code litigation with other governmental entities.

Educator’s Legal Liability

Our attorneys are well-versed in issues regarding liability that may arise for administrators, teachers, employees, and members of the board of education.  Our firm understands and has repeatedly advocated positions regarding sovereign immunity and official immunity.  We have defended numerous administrators, staff members, teachers, and Boards and individual board members in state and federal court in a wide variety of issues ranging from civil rights claims to alleged violations of the open records and open meetings laws.

 Open Records and Board Meetings

State and federal laws set forth numerous open records and open meetings requirements.  Often faced with requests for records and information from media organizations, special interest groups, or other governmental agencies, school districts are forced to navigate the morass of processing those requests and maintaining those records.  Our team frequently helps school districts with processing open records and open meeting requests, reviewing and providing documents, responding to state agencies, and litigating and responding to lawsuits arising out of such requests

Student Transfer and Enrollment

Our litigation team has experience in litigating issues related to student transfers and student enrollment.  Our firm represented several school districts in litigation related to student transfers after another area school district lost its accreditation.  Our firm tried represented the districts’ interests on appeal.