Friday, May 12, 2006

Endless Lawsuits, Part 23

An Advocate story this morning points to yet another lawsuit filed by the class-action lawyers out of Plaquemine. This one demands Lafayette construct rules for rate complaints so they can get about their business of contesting rate increases years ago by blocking the current sale of LUS' fiber optic bonds. (They've constructed some tenuous connection there--a connection that, apparently, does not apply to any of the other sets of bonds LUS is in the process of selling. Sounds suspicious? It does to me, too.)

This is the same meddlesome bunch that filed a lawsuit prior to the referendum that tried (and failed) to convince various and sundry courts to hear their case and allow them to paw through LUS' records. Class action lawsuits have often been used as fishing expeditions through corporate records--something of which Cox and BellSouth are painfully aware. Turning the tactic against a local public utility was a new twist in this tale.

When the original lawsuit was filed it was pretty clearly part of the incumbent's efforts to drum up public FUD about LUS' in lieu of tax payments. That bit of propaganda gained no traction with the voters. That lawsuit was an obvious legal clone of BellSouth's suit de jure recast in the form of a class action lawsuit. The legal similarity was so striking that Judge Ware dismissed the case because he understood that BellSouth had already lost the same argument in Conque's court.

The current lawsuit does the same thing that the lawsuit that BellSouth and Cox let die as part of their deal with LUS/LCG: it seeks to block the sale of the bonds that would allow LUS to begin building the system the people of Lafayette voted for last July 16th.

The Eastin-Naquin class action lawsuits have always been creatures of BellSouth and, LUS/LCG's "deal" not withstanding, this one is too. Make no mistake, BellSouth and perhaps Cox are behind this baby and it's new offspring.

If the incumbents actually believed they could effectively compete they would. This endless round of lawsuits and lawsuits to support the lawsuits is evidence that they fear the idea LUS represents--and don't care what the people of Lafayette think of them.

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