By City News Service
The man who sued the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power over grossly inaccurate utility billing he received years ago has filed a claim against the city over the way in which it handled the case, documents obtained by City News Service show.
Antwon Jones, who was a plaintiff in a settlement in 2017 when the DWP was forced to refund customers after a massive billing snafu, claimed on Wednesday that the city owes him $25,000 due to “wrongful acts and omissions” and fraud committed by Paradis Law Group, which he retained during the first lawsuit.
However, Paradis had also committed to defending the DWP in a separate case and had secured about $30 million in consulting contracts to do so, creating what has been called a conflict of interest. The contracts with Paradis later were severed by the DWP.
Jones also said the city representatives breached their fiduciary duties to him by “unjustly enriching themselves” at his expense.
Claims are typically filed as a precursor to a lawsuit. If the city doesn’t honor the claim, it would give Jones the latitude to sue.
“Mr. Jones’ allegations against the city are completely without merit,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office. The city attorney facilitated the hiring of Paradis to help the DWP with its legal
issues years ago.
The debacle prompted a class-action lawsuit that led to a settlement requiring the DWP to reimburse customers about $67 million — new attorneys on the case reported last week that ratepayers could get an additional $50 million, as the settlement is being examined.
FBI agents served search warrants at the downtown headquarters of the Los Angeles DWP and City Hall East last week as part of a probe into the city’s handling of the litigation and settlement over the botched rollout of a DWP billing system.
The billing system in 2013 led to thousands of customers receiving inaccurate bills, with some being wildly overcharged.
The city and DWP, meanwhile, sued PricewaterhouseCoopers over its handling of the system’s rollout.
But PricewaterhouseCoopers earlier this year questioned the city’s relationship with Paul Paradis, an outside attorney it hired to handle the litigation against the company.
PricewaterhouseCoopers argued in court papers that the arrangement with Paradis was made specifically to secure a more favorable legal outcome for the city and DWP.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a class action lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in federal court by customer Dennis Bradshaw against City Attorney Mike Feuer and attorneys involved in the Jones lawsuit, alleging professional malpractice, unjust enrichment and more.
Bradshaw, a Los Angeles renter and DWP customer, received a credit to his December 2017 bill as part of the Jones settlement. His suit alleges that Jones’s attorneys and the city colluded to deprive the customers of their rights in that case, the Times reported.
This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.