When measured in dollars, the six-year legal battle between the DeKalb County School District and Heery International Inc. sounds big.
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THE STORY SO FAR
April 2006: Heery International Inc. and E.R. Mitchell & Co., which jointly managed school construction projects, are suspended, then fired 10 months later.
February 2007: The firms sue for $478,000 in unpaid bills and alleged damages.
March 2007: DeKalb counterclaims for $17 million, eventually seeking more than $100 million and alleging billing fraud and mismanagement.
July 2009: After making more than $6 million in legal fees on the Heery/Mitchell case, DeKalb’s law firm, King & Spalding, agrees to work on contingency, retroactive to June 1, 2008.
October 2010: Heery/Mitchell file a second amended complaint, claiming criminal fraud by former DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis and others drove their termination.
June 2012: School board approves settlement with E.R. Mitchell & Co.
February 2013: Civil trial date with DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger, since postponed.
March 18, 2013: Heery president William Heitz sends school officials a letter calling the legal dispute an “unconscionable” war of attrition, and warning that the company had spent all its insurance money on lawyers, leaving nothing for any court-ordered payout.
April 2, 2013: DeKalb “special master” Judge Stanley Birch dismisses the bulk of Heery’s claims against the school district.
May 3, 2013: A pair of DeKalb residents, one a Heery executive named as a defendant in DeKalb’s lawsuit, file a legal challenge to the district’s contract with King & Spalding, alleging it puts the district illegally in debt to the lawyers.
June 3, 2013: DeKalb school board votes to authorize signing an amended contract in which King & Spalding agrees to waive $30 million in legal fees and to pay ongoing court costs. At this point, DeKalb has spent $12 million on court costs in addition to the $6 million paid to King & Spalding prior to the first contingency agreement.
June 7, 2013: Heery offers to settle lawsuit and “donate” $1 million to the school district.
June 10, 2013: DeKalb school board approves amended contract with King & Spalding.
June 11, 2013: DeKalb rejects Heery’s settlement proposal.
Heery lawsuit by the numbers
- 70 — number of bankers boxes needed to hold the court documents
- 3,954 — motions, orders and other filings as of June 26
- $18 million — school legal fees and case costs (expert witness fees, travel, etc.) as of June
- $90.50 — filing fee paid by Heery/Mitchell in 2007
- $92 — fees generated by motions filed from July 2012 to late June; a new law allowed court clerks to charge a dollar per motion as of last July.