Trials & Litigation

City of Bell sues its former bond counsel, says law firm didn't sound alarm about $100M debt

Still recovering from a corruption scandal that resulted in multiple convictions over excessive salaries paid to officials and a 12-year sentence last month for a former city administrator, a Los Angeles suburb is now suing its former bond counsel.

Meyers Nave failed to warn the city of Bell about the consequences of racking up $100 million in debt, the city contends in a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Monday. It also alleges that the law firm gave bad advice on several matters after agreeing to serve as interim city counsel after the corruption scandal erupted in 2010. The firm initially began representing Bell as bond counsel in 2009 and concluded its services to the city in 2011, Wave Wire Services reports.

Although the city began acquiring debt long before it was represented by Meyers Nave, the law firm “was in a position to reduce Bell’s exposure in these matters between 2009 and 2011,” the suit states.

The city asserts claims for breach of contract and legal malpractice, contending that the firm put its own interests before the interest of its client, the city.

David Skinner, the managing partner of the law firm, disputes these claims and said there is no basis for the suit.

“The city publicly thanked Meyers Nave for its service during that turbulent time,” he said. “We are surprised and disappointed that the city has taken unfounded legal action against our firm. The city is attempting to lay blame on us for the actions of another party. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these meritless claims.”

The Associated Press also has a story.

See also: “Judge says ‘all hell has broken loose,’ declares partial mistrial for high-paid Bell officials”

Los Angeles Times (sub. req.): “Bell’s Rizzo sentenced to 12 years in prison”

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