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one of the main figures in the ladwp saga has died
jack landskroner, an attorney from Ohio, kept quiet until the end
Today in Ohio, a guy named Jack Landskroner is dead. He recently died of cancer. Landskroner loved his family, laws and sports. He fought for justice. He played acoustic guitar in a rock band. And he made all the morally-correct Facebook posts.
A basic midwestern personal injury attorney, Landskroner one day ended up in Los Angeles, as a consumer rights guy, working on the LADWP water billing case. He came in last minute, introduced over email to the plaintiff who was suing LADWP, Antwon Jones. Jones thought Landskroner was being added to his team, not replacing it. Unknown to Jones at the time, Landskroner was a plant.
On paper, Landskroner represented Jones and other incorrectly billed utility customers suing the city of LA. In real life, he and other attorneys worked with the city to file a lawsuit drafted by the city. Later, attorneys for the city accused Landskroner of essentially blackmailing the city for higher attorney fees, and for billing hours before he even entered the case. Antwon Jones, a Black man, felt two-timed. Over on Facebook, Jack Landskroner posted about his support of George Floyd and the civil rights movement.
Landskroner received $10 million for his role in the litigation, in which no discovery was performed. Which means, basically no work was done. He probably felt like he deserved $10 million dollars. I mean, that’s why he went to Boston University. That’s why he went to L.A.
I only saw Landskroner a few times in person, through the sterile prism of court procedure. The last time I saw him, I saw something I’d never seen or heard of before. Over and over again, a judge asked Landskroner questions about his attorney fees; if any were paid to opposing counsel. And over and over again, Landskroner stood up and pleaded the 5th. Everyone in the courtroom looked at each other in shock, seeing an attorney plead the 5th. He later blanketly pleaded the 5th during his deposition. I think he even declined to confirm his own name. And then he withdrew from the case.
It all slowly ballooned into a full blown corruption saga. The FBI got involved. Federal prosecutors started looking for evidence of fraud and collusion.
Since then, federal prosecutors and court-appointed investigators have tried to figure out if any of that money Landskroner received was kicked back to attorneys working for the city. Investigators were having trouble tracing the paper trail, saying Landskroner wasn’t cooperating. Over the past couple of months, he was trying to block the court-appointed special masters report from being publicly released. He didn’t want to go out like this. He wanted people to instead remember his Facebook concerts, or his lawsuits on behalf of sexual assault victims. Just not potentially defrauding clients.
It’s been nearly two years since the federal government began its investigation. There have been no indictments. Lots of money has been spent and a lot of ink has been spilled.
Jack Landskroner had a wife and four kids. I’m sure he was likable. Attorneys usually are. But that’s not how this works. Life really does suck. People do bad things and then they do good things. In media, we tend to memorialize terrible people and forget the bad. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to forget about it. RIP Jack Landskroner.