Brentwood School District Awarded $578k in Attorney Fees After Lawsuit Thrown Out

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On July 13th, 2017, United States District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton awarded the Brentwood School District $578,854.20 for defense costs, including attorney fees, in the matter of Garedakis, et al. vs. Brentwood Union School District, et al.

On February 24, 2017, Judge Hamilton ordered that the case be dismissed on the merits and that the defendants recover their costs.  The court found that the lawsuit lacked factual and legal basis and thus could not proceed.

On August 26, 2014, the Brentwood Union School District received 15 claims, on behalf of students and parents, alleging physical or emotional abuse by special education teacher Dina Holder. One minor plaintiff settled prior to the dismissal of the case for $105,000. This legal filing was the third to allege abuse by Holder, whose teaching credential was revoked in 2013 following a no-contest plea to child abuse for kicking a student in 2010. The prior lawsuits were settled prior to a court ruling on their merits.

The decision to recover costs, including attorney fees, rests with the district’s joint powers authority (JPA) which is a risk pool made up of many school districts.

Any money recovered as a result of the dismissal of this case will go to the JPA to cover their costs incurred in defense of the district.

In the time since these cases were filed, the District says it has made extensive enhancements to its training for employees, and district training now exceeds state requirements. Through a partnership with the Child Abuse Prevention Council, nearly 1,000 employees and substitutes have received additional, in-person training on the responsibilities of being a mandated reporter. They also said Brentwood Union School District is committed to a safe environment for all students.

“Our current staff continues to work diligently to meet the educational needs of all of our students. We will continue to vigorously defend the district and our staff against unwarranted litigation. We are pleased with the outcome of this case and hope that our resources can now be better utilized to provide the best education possible for the over 9,000 students we currently serve,” said Dr. Dana Eaton, Superintendent of the BUSD.

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