BISD board votes to appeal award of attorney's fees

By David Yates | May 24, 2011

Not satisfied with a recent appeals court ruling, the Beaumont Independent School District will take their case to the Texas Supreme Court and argue that it should not have to pay a plaintiff's attorney's fees.

On May 5 the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Bob Wortham's ruling awarding attorney's fees to the Beaumont Heritage Society, who unsuccessfully fought to stop the destruction of South Park Middle School.

Five BISD board members voted to appeal the Ninth Court's ruling on Thursday, May 19. The remaining two trustees, Tom Neild and Mike Neil, opposed the vote.

Calls and emails to BISD attorney Melody Chappell were not returned.

The Beaumont Heritage Society and local "South Park Greenie" Eddie Estilette filed suit against the Beaumont Independent School District in 2009, seeking to preserve the 87-year-old campus.

On Jan. 6, 2010, Judge Wortham ruled against BISD, verbally ordering that no bond funds could be spent to demolish South Park. He also awarded attorney's fees to the plaintiffs.

Following a BISD appeal of the order, Ninth Court justices affirmed Wortham's ruling, opining that the trial court had the authority to award attorney's fees for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, according to the court's opinion.

Attorney Michael Getz, who represented the Heritage Society and Estilette, claims he's racked up around $50,000 in attorney's fees.

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