Michigan State's legal costs related to Nassar now measured in millions

EAST LANSING, MICH. - Michigan State University's legal fees related to former university doctor Larry Nassar have surpassed $2.5 million.

However, the university has likely incurred far higher costs to date as the most-recent invoices the university provided to the State Journal through a public records request did not include work performed by one law firm after July and by another firm, one of the university's most-expensive, for work performed after April.

And starting in June, the university added a second law firm billing rates as high as $990 an hour, this one handling insurance matters.

MSU faces nine lawsuits in federal court from 140 women and girls who say Nassar sexually assaulted them, many saying it happened during medical appointments at his university office and some saying it happened more than a decade ago. Last month, the lawsuits entered 90-day mediation phase during which a settlement could be reached. While separate lawsuits, they're being handled as a single matter in federal court.

►Related: Michigan State paying 3 attorneys $990 an hour on Nassar abuse case
►Related: State wants to terminate Larry Nassar's parental rights

As of Aug. 15, five law firms have billed the university for work on internal reviews, investigations, lawsuits or other matters related to Nassar. Those law firms have billed the university for $2,582,194, documents show. Two consulting firms have billed the university for $126,314.

The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has billed MSU for the most to date and charges $990 an hour each for three different attorneys, plus hourly rates between $470 and $565 for four others.

The most-recent Skadden invoice MSU provided to the State Journal was for work performed in April, and was for $495,403. In all, the Skadden firm has sent MSU invoices for nearly $1.8 million and billed for more than 2,000 hours since October.

In June, the university started receiving bills from the law firm Latham & Watkins, which is charging $990 each for two attorneys, and rates between $571 and $832 for three others.

MSU hired the law firm as "to work on the insurance aspects of the Larry Nassar matter," MSU spokesman Jason Cody said. 

In June and July, Latham & Watkins billed MSU for $425,062 and recorded 536 hours worked.

In April, MSU President Lou Anna Simon expressed no concerns about costs in connection with legal assistance related to Nassar, saying after a board meeting that, "We have enough (money) to deal with those issues as prudent to the university."

The university is using non-endowment investment income to pay for law firms, officials have said.

Nassar, 54, of Holt, faces 22 sexual assault charges in state courts and is scheduled to go on trial in December. He pleaded guilty in July to three federal child pornography charges and will be sentenced in November. 

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© 2017 Lansing State Journal


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