By John Schaffner
The lawyers for six Buckhead residents filed a motion in August in Fulton Superior Court against the city of Atlanta and its Department of Watershed Management (DWM) to force the resolution of water customer billing disputes and stop customers’ water from being turned off while the disputes are pending.
According to Michael Parsons, one of the attorneys representing the six plaintiffs, a favorable ruling on the motion for injunctive and declaratory relief, would mean “no more disconnections if a customer disputes a bill and they will have to now process the disputes in a timely manner.”
A court hearing was originally set for Aug. 31, but Parsons said that hearing was called off pending a possible settlement of the suit by the city and its contractors who are part of the suit.
As of Aug. 31, Parsons said the city had signed off on the order, but one contractor, K & V Meter Automation LLC, was opposing it.
The plaintiffs in the case are John Benator, Lori Ebert, Kristen Edwards, Nannette Fisher, J.D. Godbout and Lisa Webb.
Each of the defendants’ stories of problems with DWM were outlined in a memorandum in support of the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.
In addition to the city and K&V Meter Automation, the defendants include Metals & Materials Engineers, LLC, Neptune Technology Group, Inc. and Khafra Operations, LLC, all contractors doing work for DWM.
The civil action filed for the plaintiffs asks for an injunction to stop the city and DWM from “cutting off water service based on a customer’s purported failure to pay a bill or bills if such customer has informed the department of a good faith billing dispute.”
However, service can be terminated if a customer has been “afforded all due process” as outlined in the city code.
It also asks for a finding that pending disputes and appeals that have been filed by customers of DWM “shall be handled within 120 days, to include a hearing before the Water and Sewer Appeals Board or its designee if necessary.”