Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Third Lawsuit Goes Down

Kevin Blanchard over at the Advocate covers the (tentative) resolution of a third lawsuit against LUS. This lawsuit was actually brought first, by the same people who filed the lawsuit dismissed last week:
Lafayette Utilities System won another victory in court Monday when a judge dismissed a suit brought earlier this year alleging the municipal utility has been overcharging customers for years.
This attempt at a class action lawsuit was actually filed during the election fight earlier this year and had the likely purpose then of giving BellSouth an opportunity to try and blacken LUS' reputation with charges of overbilling the public. Like a lot of the more obvious ploys tried by BellSouth this one didn't get much traction but it still hung around in the legal system. The grounds for its dismissal yesterday is revealing of the insincere nature of these lawsuits:
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque agreed Monday with LUS' attorneys arguments that it wasn't proper to file suit against LUS without first going to the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority.
Oh. Well, uh, sure...maybe you should have actually tried to use the actual, legitimate method for dealing with such issues before you run off and file a class action lawsuit. Of course if winning for your clients wasn't really the point of the lawsuit maybe following the legal procedures weren't considered important. I suppose its a good thing these lawyers don't practice in Lafayette. Such obvious "mistakes" might effect their reputation...someone might get the idea that they weren't really acting in the best interests of their clients of record but had something else in mind--like benefiting BellSouth.

Probably the best thing about the dismissal of this lawsuit is that it undercuts claims made by the same group of lawyers in the case dissmissed last week (I know this is confusing, stay with me here). In that case the Plaquimines lawyers claimed standing based partially on the lawsuit dismissed yesterday. They said that the "overcharges" they claimed to want returned to customers shouldn't be available to LUS to pay off the bonds. With the first, "overcharges" lawsuit dismissed the part of their second lawsuit that differed most from BellSouth's almost identical lawsuit no longer has any basis.

With each of these losses it becomes more apparent that BellSouth doesn't really have a valid basis for legal action; they are merely trying to delay, and are hoping that the bond market will rise (as it has--each day of delay does make the project more expensive).

Enough is enough. BellSouth needs to compete and stop this obstructionism.

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