LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Ken Simmons filed suit today against the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), claiming he was wrongfully terminated after blowing the whistle on HACLA’s payment of bogus legal bills issued by the L.A. City Attorney’s Office. HACLA, the largest provider of affordable housing in Los Angeles, contracts with the L.A. City Attorney’s Office to handle much of its internal and external legal matters in exchange for hourly legal fees. Mr. Simmons alleges that the L.A. City Attorney’s Office was issuing bills to HACLA containing hundreds of thousands of dollars of false and/or inflated legal fees, and that HACLA was paying those bills without question. Mr. Simmons further alleges that when he brought the issue to the attention of HACLA’s President and Chief Executive Officer Douglas Guthrie, he was rebuffed for causing “problems” and ultimately fired for his watchdog efforts.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Simmons identifies a number of instances in which he felt the L.A. City Attorney’s Office had issued legal bills to HACLA, as well as one of its non-profit affiliates L.A. LOMOD, that could not be justified based on actual work completed. For example, Mr. Simmons states that sometime in early 2017 he became aware of a quarterly bill from the City Attorney’s Office for work allegedly performed by four different City Attorneys, even though two of those City Attorneys had been on medical leaves. In another instance, Mr. Simmons states that the City Attorney’s Office billed L.A. LOMOD $20,000 in legal fees for a month’s work by a single City Attorney that could not be justified with the actual work performed. Mr. Simmons states in his complaint that he estimates the amount of excess billing to be over half a million dollars per year.
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Mr. Simmons is represented by Eliot Rushovich, Lisa Watanabe-Peagler and Nehemiah Choi of Rise Law Firm, PC. “Given the affordable housing crisis facing Los Angeles, we must demand transparency and accountability from the people and agencies responsible for managing the public funds devoted to solving this crisis,” said Mr. Rushovich. “Mr. Simmons repeatedly blew the whistle when he felt that his employer was not committing itself to such transparency and accountability.”
Mr. Simmons served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for HACLA for nearly a decade before his employment was abruptly terminated in August 2017. During his tenure, among other job duties, Mr. Simmons was responsible for advising and assisting in the development and implementation of a financial strategy to ensure the availability of funding sources for HACLA’s projects and activities. HACLA has an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and receives funding from Federal HUD subsidies and capital funds, Section 8 administrative fees, rent paid by public housing residents, and other grants.
A complete copy of the filed lawsuit can be downloaded here:
https://www.riselawfirm.com/simmons-v-hacla (click on PDF button).
About Rise Law Firm, PC
Rise Law Firm, PC is the leading employment law firm in California exclusively dedicated to representing employees in civil lawsuits. Attorneys at Rise Law Firm have served as lead counsel on some of the highest-profile employment cases in Southern California over the last 5 years, and have recovered millions of dollars for their clients in both private and public settings. The Firm’s cases cover the gamut of employment law matters, from discrimination, harassment and retaliation to whistleblower and class action wage and hour lawsuits, and the Firm’s clients range from C-Level Executives to minimum wage employees. More information about Rise Law Firm can be found at https://www.riselawfirm.com.
SOURCE Rise Law Firm, PC
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