By Allison Jarrell
A class action lawsuit seeking upwards of $15 million in water refunds was filed against the city of San Juan Capistrano Jan. 8. The suit requests the city “refund its customers the millions of dollars which it illegally and wrongfully assessed for water services.”
Law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy filed the complaint on behalf of residents Hootan Daneshmand, Lauri McIntosh and Brian Montgomery after filing a notice of claim twice on Sept. 30 and Dec. 4 without a response from the city, said attorney Niall McCarthy.
After San Juan’s water rates were deemed unconstitutional by the Fourth District Court of Appeal last year, the city implemented a refund process last summer with a deadline to apply for refunds in October. Residents were repaid for the rates they paid between Aug. 28, 2013 and July 1, 2014. The lawsuit argues that’s only about 20 percent of what San Juan residents are actually owed, since they were overcharged for water “from at least February 2010 to July 2015.”
“It’s pretty straightforward,” McCarthy said. “If you overcharge someone a dollar, you can’t give them 20 cents back and then walk away.”
The city has a total of 30 days to respond to the suit. The lawsuit is on the agenda for the City Council’s closed session on Feb. 2.