SMMUSD pays legal fees for PCB lawsuit

The SMMUSD Board of Education has approved the final settlement amount with America Unites for Kids, which is a six-year legal battle with Malibu activists regarding the removal of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from Malibu High School (MHS) and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School (JCES). ) completed ).

Board of Education President Jon Kean said at the July 15 board meeting that “the parties reached a settlement of $ 950,000” for recoverable attorney fees and expenses paid to plaintiff, American Unites for Kids, is to be exhibited.

The comparison is a win for Malibu activists, who originally discovered the PCBs in 2013 when activist and future plaintiff Jennifer deNicola took samples of window seals from buildings built before 1979. Sealing has been tested and PCBS – a highly toxic industrial compound known to cause cancer with prolonged exposure – has levels above 50 parts per million (parts per million), which is classified as toxic by the Environmental Protections Agency.

A lawsuit was filed in 2015 by activists and America Unites for Kids, an advocacy group that, according to its website, seeks to “ensure a healthy school environment for all children in all schools and the teachers who train them. The organization sought remedial action for the PCB levels found in various school buildings owned by MHS and JCES.

Following a banking lawsuit in 2016, the District Court ruling favored America Unites and issued an injunction against the district that set a deadline in December 2019 for the removal of PCBs from window and door seals in buildings constructed before 1979. The deadline was changed in 2018 due to the passage of Measure M – a school facility bond that provides $ 195 million specifically for Malibu schools. The Facilities Bond will cover the cost of the demolition and remodeling of the MHS, with the plan to build a state-of-the-art school presented at the board meeting on April 29th.

At the trial, US District Court Judge Percy Anderson found that America Unites’ solicitation for attorney fees and expenses, according to the 9th district opinion, was “punitive rather than compensatory,” and required criminal protections not provided by the District Court became. The sanctions were lifted by U.S. District Court Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain based on the implications of plaintiffs’ First Amendment Rights, awarding America Unites attorney’s fees.

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