A man suing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy over inaccurate utility bills filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against the city over the way the prosecutor handled the case.
Antwon Jones, who was a plaintiff in a 2017 settlement when DWP was forced to issue refunds to customers after a massive settlement, claims city officials used him as an “ignorant farmer” and conspired with the Paradis Law Group, which he kept while the first lawsuit.
The debacle resulted in a class action lawsuit that resulted in a settlement that saw DWP reimburse customers for approximately $ 67 million. The billing system in 2013 resulted in thousands of customers receiving inaccurate invoices, some of whom were severely overwhelmed.
In the new lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, lawyers for Jones accuse the city of Los Angeles, prosecutor Mike Feuer and two lawyers from Feuer’s office – James Clark and Thomas Peters – of “conducting an outrageous program and cover-up, she cheated on Jones, violated his civil rights and wasted city money. “
Feuer said he has not yet examined the entire complaint, “but it just seems like a repetition of old allegations. I can say in no uncertain terms that I have always acted with complete integrity and any claim to the contrary is absolutely false.” “
Jones claims he was “the victim of fraud, corruption and a massive government cover-up that violated his constitutional rights and cost taxpayers like him millions of dollars,” according to his attorney Jeffrey Isaacs.
“He has been exploited and betrayed by his own lawyers, who individually benefited enormously from their misconduct and then teamed up with city officials to hide their grievances for the past five years from Mr. Jones, the Supreme Court, and ultimately the public,” said Isaacs allegedly. “In this lawsuit, Mr. Jones seeks justice for himself and his fellow taxpayers.”
Jones was among more than a million utility customers who were overwhelmed by LADWP in 2014. The system was implemented by the global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, with which the city signed a contract in 2013.
At the time, Jones was in his early twenties, according to the lawsuit, and lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Van Nuys with no washer, dryer, dishwasher or central air conditioning. His average LADWP bill was $ 25-30 for a month. In August 2014, he received a LADWP bill for $ 1,374 for four months, averaging over $ 340 per month.
After complaining about LADWP online, Jones was contacted by New York attorney Paul Paradis in late 2014 for being a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the city and LADWP. Jones signed a retention agreement with Paradis and its law firm and became their client, the lawsuit states.
Unknown to Jones, Paradis and his co-attorney Paul Kiesel were on hold by the city at the same time they filed a lawsuit against PwC over the implementation of the failed accounting system.
“This massive conflict of interest would be covered up by attendees for approximately the next five years,” claimed Isaacs.
Jones’ proposed class action lawsuit was filed in April 2015. To keep his participation in both lawsuits secret, Paradis recruited Ohio attorney Jack Landskroner and Los Angeles attorney Michael Libman to serve as legal counsel for Jones Says Paradis Ghost-wrote Jones’s complaint against City itself with input from the City.
The Supreme Court approved the Jones v City settlement in 2017, with Landskroner and Libman receiving approximately $ 11.9 million in legal fees despite filing no motions, discovering and litigating, and despite the settlement being for the City was beneficial and not particularly beneficial to many members of the settlement class, according to the lawsuit alleging that Landskroner’s and Libman’s fees were paid by the city.
“As is now known, Paradis and the City of Jones acted as ignorant farmers in obtaining the fraudulent and collusive settlement in the Jones v City case,” said plaintiff’s lawyers in the current lawsuit. “However, due to a cover-up that included Paradis, Kiesel, Landskroner, Libman, Feuer, Clark, Peters and others, the collusion and fraud cases underlying the settlement did not become known until 2019 when they were uncovered by PwC during the course of the course in City v. PwC to defend.
“As a result of the cover-up, Jones was unaware of Paradis and the city’s wrongdoing and the legal action he would have taken against them until the statute of limitations removed those claims … The city thus deprived Jones of his constitutional access to the Courts, “claim Jones’ lawyers.
Jones’ lawsuit is being brought against the city for damages and other financial relief he is entitled to and would have received without the city’s alleged “violation of his civil rights”, Isaacs said.
“Jones is also suing Fire, Clark, and Peters on behalf of California taxpayers to require them to reimburse the city for illegally spending and wasting taxpayers’ money to hide and cover up their wrongdoing,” he claimed.