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Law firm sued by mayor to close

Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir, which represents police officers and unions, is 'winding down.'

September 19, 2013|By Bradley Zint

An Upland-based law firm being sued by two Costa Mesa City Council members is closing, according to a letter obtained Thursday by the Daily Pilot.

Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir "will be winding down and eventually close," according to the letter sent by partner Dieter Dammeier to one of his police association clients. It was dated Wednesday.

Dammeier also writes of a "mass exodus" of attorneys amid the recent "turmoil." It does not specify the timeline of the firm's dissolution.

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Dammeier and other partners from the 16-year-old firm — which is known for its aggressive representation of police officers and unions — did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.

The Daily Journal, a Los Angeles publication that focuses on legal news, first reported that more than half of the firm's 19 attorneys are leaving or forming their own partnerships.

The news comes after directors with the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California alleged misconduct regarding Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir's billing practices. On Sept. 9, the Sacramento-based association's board voted to remove the firm from its Legal Defense Fund list of approved attorneys.

The fund, established in 1974, has more than 99,000 members and is the largest of its kind in the country, according to PORAC's website.

PORAC made its decision based on a certified fraud examiner's report, which included allegations of double and triple billing, and bills for travel that never happened.

"Given the extended period of time over which these widespread acts over billing have occurred," the board wrote, "numerous experts have estimated the potential damages to be quite substantial."

The board also wrote that a "continued analysis and investigation to more precisely quantify the losses" to the Legal Defense Fund is being undertaken.

The lawsuit filed by Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer, his wife and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger alleges that Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir — infamous for its "playbook" of election-year tactics that include "chastising" City Council members — harassed them for political gain. The playbook, once posted on the law firm's website, PoliceAttorney.com, has since been taken down.

The Costa Mesa Police Officers' Assn. and Chris Lanzillo, a private investigator, are also named as defendants in the civil-action lawsuit filed in August.

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