Los Angeles DWP Sued In Product Liability Case

04-01-2015
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Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer has filed a product liability lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for mismanaging customer billing, costing the city millions of dollars in damages, and overcharging customers.

The billing flaw was discovered when a local mathematician, Nathan Wells, began closely tracking his power use, and discovered the Department of Water and Power had sent him a bill that was three times higher than what it was supposed to be. After contacting the DWP multiple times, they refused to correct his bill or reveal the formula in which they determined it. Numerous customers are starting to come forward, claiming that the LADWP is not accurately measuring how much water and power they use, but instead estimating how much they use. “There is no formula. I think they make it up as they go along,” Wells said. Tim Blood, another product liability attorney involved in the case, says the DWP billing estimate is performed by computer software implemented in 2013, and that the estimating formula is “baked into the software.” He doubts that DWP employees even understand it.

In an email from the DWP, it states that usage estimates “can occur for a variety of reasons,” usually when a customer’s meter is broken, or when a crew is unable to access it. In these type of circumstances, usage is estimated by gauging the amount of water and electricity use by the customer last year during the same period, or the bill prior to the current bill.

City Attorney Feuer is also going after consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, claiming that it lied about the amount of experience it had in implementing the LADWP’s $70 million billing system. “The contract was so poorly performed, so pervaded with misrepresentations, that the results were disastrous,” said Feuer. PricewaterhouseCoopers has recently come under fire after it was named a suspect in an international corporate espionage case, which claims that it sold top secret government records on foreign investment policies to other corporate groups.

The LADWP is encouraging any customer who believes their billing to be inaccurate to contact them and request a meter inspection.

If you are suffering financially due to fraudulent practices by city agencies such as the DWP, the product liability lawyers of Hodes Milman Liebeck can provide you with the assistance you need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.

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