Friday, January 14, 2011
Judge Orders More Briefing in Qui Tam Action Against Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre K. Weintraub requested supplemental briefing yesterday on whether a qui tam plaintiff who sued Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton under the False Claims Act could compel discovery of communications between the firm and its former client, the City of Cudahy, on whose behalf the suit was brought.
Weintraub said it was a “close question” since Matthew Monforton, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who now practices law in Montana, was acting in the name of Cudahy, a small city in southeastern Los Angeles County.
Cudahy had retained Sheppard Mullin to represent five council members during a 2001 grand jury investigation by the District Attorney’s Office into allegations that the members had violated conflict of interest laws in the appointment of former Councilman George Perez to the position of city manager.
In his complaint, filed in 2005, Monforton contended that the council members entered into a contract in which they had a personal financial interest by voting to approve the retainer agreement which provided representation for them as individuals, and that such a contract was void from the outset. As a result, he claimed, each time Sheppard Mullin submitted an invoice to the city, it violated the False Claims Act.
Monforton’s attorney, Brian R. Condon, said he “thought the judge was ready to rule” at yesterday’s hearing, and was “confident” Weintraub would order the release of the billing documents between Sheppard Mullin and the city Monforton sought.
David R. Garcia and Richard Delossa of Sheppard Mullin represented the firm at the hearing. Delossa deferred requests for comment to Garcia, who did not return a call.
The judge ordered the hearing continued until Feb. 18.
The case is City of Cudahy ex rel. Monforton v. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company