published Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Chattanooga: Class-action lawsuit could affect every EPB customer


by Monica Mercer

Chattanooga lawyers are set to file a class-action lawsuit this morning against the city, EPB and EPB Telecom, alleging that the power company has been installing infrastructure for their cable business without acquiring the proper easements from Hamilton County residents.

Every EPB customer is potentially affected by the lawsuit, attorney John Cavett said, and could possibly be entitled to compensation from EPB for the improper use of their land.

Chattanooga and EPB already are owners of easements throughout the county in order to transmit electricity to their customers.

The lawsuit claims, however, that the city, EPB and its off-shoot cable company, EPB Telecom, have begun using those easements designated only for their electricity business to also install cable for their cable business.

Calling such practice an act of “unlawful taking and trespass,” the lawsuit alleges that the defendants do not have the right to use electric power easements for cable without compensation to the owners of the land.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

See tomorrow’s Times Free Press for complete details.

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davidgarendt said...

Ridiculous. Fiber to the Home is what we need to bust-up the monopoly and unfair business practices of Comcast. We need this technology for continued economic development in Chattanooga, and this lawsuit looks like a shameless stunt to steal money from Chattanooga taxpayers. The judge should throw the case out.

January 27, 2009 at 12:01 p.m.
josiahq said...

"expected to be filed"

Nothing like an attempted frivolous lawsuit wasting money in a time when we should be doing whatever we can to foster growth in our local economy.

It'll fail. The EPB Fiber program rocks.

January 27, 2009 at 12:14 p.m.
davidm said...

Very strange. I don't see EPB moving forward on the easements without knowing they have the legal authority to do so. And why is there no plaintiff listed in the article?

"Every EPB customer is potentially affected by the lawsuit, attorney John Cavett said, and could possibly be entitled to compensation from EPB for the improper use of their land."

Ha - EPB is a publicly-owned agency of the City of Chattanooga. So now we're filing a class action lawsuit against ourselves...I smell a PR stunt.

January 27, 2009 at 12:19 p.m.
stratparrott said...

This is just a battle of nomenclature to befuddle and confuse the consumer. Fiber or "the new cabling" can be used for multiple things just as traditional copper lines can. It's just better infrastructure, and stopping it will do more hurt then good. Free enterprise. Tell me do you know what else is in/on your current "electric lines?" And how are we filing a class action against ourselves?

January 27, 2009 at 12:32 p.m.
dryan said...

This is ridiculous. Typical lawyer-shark stunt trying to create an issue to sue over. There are more uses than "cable" (which, to be blunt, is not synonymous with television and is being misused in this article) for fiber. If memory serves the people of Chattanooga turned out in overwhelming support of the Fiber to the Home proposal when the commission held its hearing. If this lawsuit isn't thrown out then the only people who can possibly make money from it are the lawyers who are doing a disservice to the very people they pretend to be defending.

January 27, 2009 at 12:43 p.m.
stevaker said...

It's Craptastic!

Fiber to Home is what everyone needs in Chattanooga and the surrounding communities. As a business owner, I've seen nothing but positive results from the fiber service we use.

This lawsuit is an obvious attempt to slow down the inevitable and, really, will just be a backlash by creating more buzz for EPB's Fiber to Home.

January 27, 2009 at 12:49 p.m.
langmartin said...

This does seem suspicious to me, it's a descendant of the argument that Comcast used in it's failed lawsuit against EPB.

Everyone in America has relatively terrible Internet access; our country needs better, and whichever cities jump on it first stand to gain a huge technology windfall. EPB's fiber to the home means a shot at really good network connectivity here, and with the low cost of living, the next Google could come from Chattanooga.

If this suit is a tactic of Comcast or AT&T, the city needs to find out, and understand the implications. A good quality Internet provider means new industry, and industry with huge potential gains for the city.

January 27, 2009 at 2:10 p.m.
jehawbaker said...

It seems very strange that no plaintiffs were named in this article. Who is really pushing this lawsuit forward?

January 27, 2009 at 2:25 p.m.
phragmunkee said...

+1 EPB, -1 Sleezy lawyers

January 27, 2009 at 2:46 p.m.
davidm said...

According to the Chattanoogan, "The suit was brought by David Matthews (heh) and Tommy Baker against the city of Chattanooga, EPB and EPB Telecom."

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_143410.asp

January 27, 2009 at 2:54 p.m.

Makes sense to me to use the existing infrastructure to improve the system for everyone.

Why halt progress with unnecessary lawsuits?

January 27, 2009 at 3:40 p.m.
JacksonAlexandr said...

I don't need a pay out from EPB for trumped up easement violations. I would like options and better infrastructure which is what EPB is trying to provide. This is a waste of time and money. Let's move on.

January 27, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.
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