A critic of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power called on the state’s top prosecutor this week to investigate the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office over how it handled a legal settlement to remedy 2013 billing errors that overcharged some customers and undercharged others.
RELATED STORY: DWP computer glitches result in higher utility bills for many
Jamie Court, president of the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, alleged in a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Xavier Becerra that because of a possible legal conflict of interest, customers were “denied a fair settlement,” and have failed to receive “a resolution to their billing error problems, which continue to this day.”
Testimony and documents submitted in federal court earlier this month said that an outside attorney retained to defend the city and the utility also represented a ratepayer who was the lead plaintiff in a 2015 class action lawsuit against the city.
In a statement, the City Attorney’s Office said it had not been informed of the possibility that the attorney was retained by both sides and was investigating if the allegation was true. City Attorney Mike Feuer said last week that his office has been consulting with legal ethics expert Ellen Pansky to review the allegations.
Paradis and a co-counsel, Paul Kiesel, are no longer representing the city in the litigation with software company Pricewaterhousecooper, he said.
The testimony and documents were provided by Pricewaterhousecooper’s attorney.
RELATED STORY: DWP customers stunned by new wave of huge bills
Paul Paradis, who represented the city and LADWP, was also retained by Antwon Jones, a Van Nuys resident who was the face of the class action lawsuit against the city over the bill mix-ups, according to the testimony.
“That is unethical, any way you slice it,” said Court.
Jones considered Paradis his attorney during the time he was represented by Jack Landskroner, a Cleveland-based attorney who was the lead on the class-action lawsuit, according to court testimony.
The billing errors occurred following a roll-out of a new customer-information system developed by Pricewaterhousecooper.
RELATED STORY: DWP claims class-action settlement, but consumer attorney objects
Court alleged that the involvement of Paradis on different sides of the case haD deeper implications. He said it gave the attorneys representing the city the ability to “control the settlement.”
“By settling, the case went away, the DWP didn’t have to answer tough questions,” he said.
RELATED STORY: DWP billing problems blamed on inexperienced managers and consultants, report says
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman …read more
Source:: Dailynews – News