LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Southern California judge on Monday gave "conditional approval" to a proposed settlement over problems with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power billing system.
"The settlement is not approved until it's approved. So, what the judge said was, 'OK, we are heading in the right direction. We are getting there, but there are a few more things that are important that need to get done,'" said Timothy Blood, a plaintiff attorney.
The changes include simple and straightforward language on the settlement that will be easy for LADWP customers to understand.
In addition, the LADWP will refund 100 percent of what it owes to every consumer who has been over-billed.
"The DWP needs to commit every dollar it stole not every dollar it said it stole, and in the final analysis, this judge appears to be saying to DWP, 'Take all these concerns, fix this flawed agreement and come back,'" said Jaime Court, a consumer watchdog.
The DWP later said in a statement it is pleased with the judge's decision, which would credit or refund $44 million in overcharges to customers.
Outside the courtroom, things were a little heated between Court and plaintiff attorney Tom Merriman, who is accused by consumer advocates of getting paid millions of tax payer dollars to settle the case.
"These guys know that is false," Merriman said. "That's the thing that is upsetting."
Both sides were scheduled back for a fourth court hearing on Feb. 5.
DWP may pay millions to over-billed customers