MTA Audit Finds Flaws In Oversight Of Legal Costs

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Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 1:10 PM

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The Daily Journal broke the news in January that the MTA had spent $32 million litigating a single case against contractor Tutor-Saliba. The contractor sued the MTA for $16 million way back in 1995 over the construction of the Red Line. In hindsight, it would have been cheaper to hand Ron Tutor the $16 million up front than to fight the case for 15 years.

The story prompted Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to ask for an audit, which has just been released. Along with giving the true cost of the Tutor litigation -- turns out it was $37 million -- the audit makes a number of recommendations. Those recommendations, however, appear to be the equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has left.

No other case approaches the profligacy of the Tutor litigation, and nothing, at this point, will bring that $37 million back.

The audit recommends that county counsel establish policies for litigation cost management, establish budgets for each case, do earlier risk assessments, and standardize its filing system, among other things.

County counsel responded that it has already done most of that, and that it has had a cost management policy since way back in February. Congrats to the Daily Journal for making that happen.

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