In a move that has attorneys for the victims of the Miramonte child abuse case scratching their heads, the Los Angeles Unified School District has added a new set of attorneys to the case, which is set for trial in July.
LAUSD had initially hired the Sedgwick Law Firm, with chief attorney Thomas Delaney at the onset of the Miramonte scandal. Speaking with only NBC4 in February, LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist insisted the decision was a strategic one for the district because of Sedgwick's ability to handle high-profile cases. Under Delaney, seven additional attorneys were helping with the case. The addition of the new firm adds at least two more.
In a filing with the California Superior Court, Sedgwick associated the law firm of Andrade and Gonzalez. Sean Andrade, partner in the firm, had been handling the District's insurance policies with the cases.
Until April 21st, as NBC4 reported, Andrade had been the lead attorney defending LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and former Miramonte principals Richard Lopez and Martin Sandoval. During the hearing on April 21, Luis Carrillo, one of eight attorneys representing the dozens of Miramonte victims, objected in open court to Andrade's appearance as the district "double-dipping" taxpayers. Judge John Wiley questioned Andrade about his presence and reconfirmed that Deasy, Lopez and Sandoval had been removed from the list of defendants. Andrade remained for the morning session but did not return in the afternoon.
NBC4 has made repeated attempts to find out from LAUSD if attorney Andrade was still paid for his time in court that day, even after the judge deemed him solely a "member of the public." To date, the district has not answered that question.
Carrillo sent a statement to NBC4 regarding this new association with Andrade and repeated his claims of wasted tax payer money.
"The LAUSD repeatedly tells the community that the LAUSD is working for the best interests of the children in the school district," Carrillo said, "but instead of spending money for books or in the classrooms, the LAUSD is now paying double for two law firms to defend the LAUSD in the Miramonte cases."
In a previous report, NBC4 obtained the billing charges for the lawfirms representing LAUSD in the Miramonte matter. The hourly rates proved to be double those of attorneys already on the District's defense panel - including attorneys who already had previous winning records with child abuse cases for the District.
We reached out again for comment from the public relations firm hired solely to handle media inquiries in regards to the Miramonte case, but we have yet to get any official statement