By Lana Bellamy - Journal-Times
July 3, 2013 — Oral arguments for class action status in a lawsuit filed against the City of Olive Hill will take place Aug. 19.
Attorneys Mike Fox and Reid Glass are representing those seeking class action certification in the legal claims of 32 plaintiffs asking reimbursement from the city because of unlawfully adjusted electric rates since 2000.
The request for class action status made by Fox and Glass was heard Monday during motion hour in Carter Circuit Court.
Attorneys Jim Deckard and Patrick Flannery, who represent a separate group in an identical case, also asked to be considered for class counsel.
The oral argument date was set for summer’s end in order to allow an extension for discovery for the defense, meaning the collection of supportive evidence. They were granted 30 additional days to produce the requested information.
The main source of concern for the discovery period for the plaintiffs involved the collection of electronic data from two city employees who recently resigned.
Deckard requested a motion be filed for preservation of evidence that may be stored on the work computers of the two employees in question. The issue was resolved when it was agreed that the computers and existing files would be shelved and secured.
According to the complaint filed in February, the plaintiffs were unaware that they were being charged excessive fees until the fall of 2012.
Both suits came in the wake of a Jan. 14 opinion handed down by the Attorney General's Office of Rate Intervention (ORI).
In that report, ORI Director Jennifer Black Hans asserted that the city's electric rate ordinance, which had been in effect since 2000, violates KRS 96.534 which requires city-owned utility companies to hold public hearings before increasing electric rates.
The suit alleges, among other violations, that the city committed fraud and violated the Consumer Protection Act by not following established state law in the setting and adjustment of electric rates, specifically alleging that the city sought to “evade a public hearing on proposed increases in rates or fees for electric utility services.”
The complaint requests that all excess fees paid to the city be returned to the plaintiffs, in addition to their attorney fees, the cost of the lawsuit, and anything else to which the plaintiffs are entitled.
Lana Bellamy can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 474-5101.