Torrance Unified School District Prevails in Lawsuit Challenging Lease-Leaseback Agreements
TORRANCE, CA. – The Torrance Unified School District announced today that it prevailed in a lawsuit brought by local resident James McGee and the California Taxpayers Action Network (“CTAN”), of which Rick Marshall, another local resident, is the Treasurer, challenging the validity of the lease-leaseback agreements for the modernization of Hickory Elementary School, Madrona Middle School, North High School, Towers Elementary School, Riviera Elementary School, and Torrance High School. In the lawsuit, McGee and CTAN alleged that the District improperly awarded the lease-leaseback agreements and sought to invalidate the agreements. The District has been defending itself against these lawsuits since 2013.
In 2016, the state Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of six of the causes of action, leaving only the alleged conflict of interest as the basis for invalidating the lease-leaseback agreements. At trial, Judge Michael Vicencia, ruled that McGee and CTAN’s sole basis for challenging the lease-leaseback agreements was moot because the six different projects being challenged were now complete. Judge Vicencia noted that McGee and CTAN did not seek an injunction to stop work on the projects nor did they avail themselves of the procedures to expedite the resolution of these types of cases in the courts.
Torrance Unified School District’s Superintendent, Dr. George Mannon, is very pleased with the ruling. “After six years of litigation, the District has prevailed in all aspects of the lawsuits,” he said. “School districts shouldn’t have to spend their limited financial resources defending themselves against such baseless lawsuits when a contractor who provides professional services to the District can have their agreements challenged in court. Regardless, this is a significant victory for the District as well as for the other California public school districts that use this project delivery method. The important thing is that our school facilities are being modernized to meet 21st-century learning needs.”