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DeKalb Co. business litigation over schools takes hit, maybe

An Atlanta-area construction management company is claiming victory in the outcome of a court's decision regarding its business litigation with the DeKalb County School District. At the same time, the school district is saying the 5-year-old fight is far from over.

According to reports, the judge's decision could cost taxpayers a large sum of money - or cost them nothing at all - which understandably makes news of the case a hot-button topic in Georgia.

At the heart of the case is DeKalb County's claim of years of alleged mismanagement concerning DeKalb school construction between 1997 and 2006. Recently, a DeKalb Superior Court judge dismissed breach-of-contract claims dating before February 2001. He ruled that the statute of limitations has run out on claims before that date.

Attorneys for the contractor, Heery International Inc., say they're pleased because the claims were worth tens of millions of dollars. But lawyers for the school district say the decision only applies to breach-of-contract claims and doesn't mean the government won't be able to recover the funds through the other legal grounds being pursued. Those include alleged violations of breach of fiduciary duties, fraud and racketeering.

According to a professor of civil procedure and litigation at Emory University, the continued back-and-forth progression of the case suggests talk of a settlement may be under way. It's hard to know, however.

Business litigation issues can present challenges to any company. For large organizations such as the two presented in this case, disputes may carry on for months -- or even years -- as both plaintiff and defendant prepare and argue their prospective cases. Atlanta businesses that are faced with a lawsuit or other litigation may find preparedness and patience two solid and invaluable allies.

Source: ajc.com, "DeKalb loses court round in construction suit. Or not.," Ty Tagami, July 19, 2012

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