By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Sept. 4, 2013 — Carter Circuit Judge Rebecca Phillips heard oral arguments Tuesday before awarding class action certification of two lawsuits against Olive Hill Utilities.
Both suits allege that Olive Hill illegally raised electric rates in violation of KRS 96.534, which requires prior public notice of electric rate increases for municipally-owned utilities.
Attorneys representing the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and Olive Hill electric rate payers were on hand to discuss the particulars of the case.
With little resistance from KLC's attorney, Phillips certified class action status for the suits.
“The action meets all the required criteria for class action status and I believe doing so to be in the best interests not only of the plaintiffs, but also the defendant in terms of responding to requests for discovery and things of that nature,” Phillips said in issuing the judgment.
Frankfort attorney Jim Deckard and Olive Hill attorney Michael Fox then presented arguments to the court concerning which of them should be appointed as counsel for the class action.
Deckard touted his experience litigating utility law, as well as his network of industry experts as selling points as to why his firm should be named as counsel.
Fox countered by presenting his own lengthy resume of handling complicated cases, as well as asserting that he could more easily interact with personnel in the case because he is based locally.
Fox also rebutted an argument that he could have a potential conflict of interest in the case by revealing that he has recently filed a voluntary dismissal of any claim he might have in the suit.
Phillips will review proposals from both firms and issue a ruling later as to who will serve as class counsel for the suit.
Joe Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 286-4201.