A key member of City Atty. Mike Feuer’s executive team who helped oversee the controversial settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers has stepped down.
Chief Deputy Atty. Jim Clark left August. 31, said Rob Wilcox, spokesman for the city attorney’s office.
Since joining the city attorney’s office in 2013, Clark helped supervise several high-profile cases, including a lawsuit brought against banking giant Wells Fargo and a sexual harassment lawsuit targeting Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar.
In an interview Friday, Clark said he quit to pursue mediation work. He also said he’d been unable to work alongside others in the city attorney’s office during the pandemic and missed that element of his job.
“I don’t know when or even if I could go back to work,” said Clark, 72.
Clark denied that his departure was related to fallout over the DWP litigation.
City Hall remains under a cloud of suspicion after questions about the city’s handling of two lawsuits that emerged from billing problems at the DWP. FBI agents raided the city attorney’s office and utility’s headquarters last year.
The city sued PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2015, blaming the consulting firm for a new DWP billing system that overcharged a wide swath of customers. At the same time, DWP customers filed a class-action lawsuit against the city.
While PricewaterhouseCoopers was defending itself in the lawsuit brought by the city, its lawyers uncovered evidence in the DWP class-action case. The firm alleged in court documents that the city took part in a fraudulent scheme to control the outcome of the class-action lawsuit.
Both Clark and representatives of Feuer’s office have denied the city was involved in or aware of the alleged scheme and have blamed two outside attorneys hired by Feuer’s office. Those attorneys have denied wrongdoing, with one saying his work was done at the direction of the city attorney’s office.
In a related move, PricewaterhouseCoopers this week won a victory this week when a judge found the city had committed “serious abuse” of the discovery process and ordered the city to pay a $2.5 million fine.
Attorneys for PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a court filing this summer that the city produced unprepared witnesses and false deposition testimony as part of an effort to conceal its wrongdoing in the related class-action case.
The court filing mentioned Clark several times, noting that he threw out notes ahead of his deposition and was unprepared for questioning. After his deposition, Clark submitted more than 50 changes to his testimony.
Asked about why he made so many changes to his deposition testimony, Clark on Friday blamed Paul Paradis, one of the outside attorneys hired by the city, who he said helped prepared him for the interview.
Paradis’ attorney didn’t respond to a request for a comment.
Feuer, who is running for mayor, defended his top deputies when he was deposed last year. Feuer said he asked them what they knew about the alleged collusion and that their “denials were swift, clear and unequivocal.”