Trials & Litigation

Ballard Spahr Bill Near $750K in Ongoing School Laptop Webcam Case


Legal fees charged by Ballard Spahr and a computer forensic expert the law firm retained are nearing $750,000 in a four-month-old matter concerning a school district’s controversial remote activation of webcams on the laptop computers it issued to students.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs in a federal class action seeking damages from the Lower Merion School District for taking webcam photos in private settings says he’s racked up a legal bill of $148,000 so far, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The webcam system has now been disabled.

Meanwhile, the district’s insurer is balking at paying these legal bills, contending in a court filing that the school district breached the terms of its insurance policy by retaining Ballard Spahr on its own without obtaining the insurer’s approval.

Graphic Arts Mutual Insurance Co. has filed a federal declaratory judgment action seeking a court ruling that it is not liable for any of the district’s costs in the case, because its policy covers only bodily harm and personal injury, according to an earlier Inquirer article and the Main Line Media News.

The school district has counterclaimed, and Graphic Arts has agreed to pay 80 percent of its defense costs, subject to a provision that they can be recaptured if the court rules in the insurer’s favor in the declaratory judgment case, the Inquirer reports.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “School District Snapped 56,000 Images on Student Webcams”

ABAJournal.com: “Student Warned Defendant School Dist. in ‘08 of Potential Webcam Privacy Peril”

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