Metro in Missouri to Pay $6M, Instead of $27M, in Attorneys’ Fees
Daily Record (St. Louis, MO/St. Louis Countian) – Copyright 2008 Dolan Media Newswires
By Allison Retka
Metro agreed in a settlement with the fired builders of its light-rail extension to Shrewsbury to pay just $6 million in attorneys’ fees. The Cross County Collaborative, which in November won a case filed by the transit agency, had sought $27 million in attorneys’ fees. “This is it. They’re paying us $6 million,” said Ed Dowd, a Dowd Bennett attorney who represented STV Inc., one of the four contractors Metro sued in 2002 on claims of fraud and mismanagement. “We hope [the settlement] helps Metro to continue to expand its light rail service for the people of St. Louis,” he said.
In addition to the $6 million payment, Metro will pay $2.5 million in damages that a St. Louis County jury awarded to the CCC on Nov. 30. After a three-month trial on the matter, the jury rejected each of Metro’s claims and sided with the contractors. As part of judgment, which Presiding Judge Carolyn C. Whittington signed Tuesday, the CCC has agreed not to appeal the damages amount. It also dropped its motion for attorneys’ fees. Metro, which after the trial had accused the CCC of propagating negative publicity about the case, likewise dismissed its motions for sanctions against the contractors. Richard Hardcastle, a Greensfelder Hemker & Gale attorney for the CCC, said his clients are happy to put the matter behind them. He would not comment on the status of the $27 million legal fees the CCC had submitted to the court. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Bob Baer, interim president and CEO of Metro said, “This agreement represents a strong commitment by both sides to put the past behind us and to continue the process of moving the community forward.” Baer was named the head of Metro after Larry Salci resigned in early December. Salci’s departure largely was due to his involvement with the failed lawsuit, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said in December. Dowd said Baer took the lead in the settlement talks between the parties. Baer’s statement also noted that the four engineering firms that make up the CCC — Parsons Brinckerhoff, STV Inc., Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and Kwame Building Group Inc. — could work on future Metro projects.