Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Utilities Law
Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC v. Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., et al.
In the first action ("the 2014 action"), The Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., Lake View Villas Association, Inc., Lake View Estates Property Owners Association, Inc., Glenlakes Unit One Property Owners Association, Inc., and Glenlakes Master Association, Inc. ("the Associations"), sued Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC ("BCSS"), challenging a sewer-service rate increase. In the second action ("the 2017 action"), Dan Gormley, Mike Willis, Janet Maxwell, Larry Morgan, David Vosloh, and Dick Dayton ("the individual plaintiffs") sued BCSS, challenging the same rate increase. The trial court ultimately consolidated the actions in 2020, and it entered an order determining that the Associations and the individual plaintiffs were the real parties in interest in the actions. BCSS appealed that order. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the order was nonfinal, and could not support an appeal. View "Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC v. Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Ex parte Utilities Board of the City of Roanoke.
The Utilities Board of the City of Roanoke ("the Utilities Board") petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Circuit Court to vacate an order purporting to reinstate a case that the circuit court had previously disposed of. Because the Supreme Court concluded the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to issue the order purporting to reinstate the case, it granted the petition and issued the writ. View "Ex parte Utilities Board of the City of Roanoke." on Justia Law
City of Wetumpka v. Alabama Power Company
The City of Wetumpka sued Alabama Power Company because Alabama Power refused to relocate overhead electrical facilities located within the City's downtown area at the power company's expense. The circuit court dismissed the case, finding that it was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission. To this, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed: the City challenged service regulations of the PSC, and the PSC had exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate such challenges. View "City of Wetumpka v. Alabama Power Company" on Justia Law
Startley General Contractors, Inc. v. Water Works Board of the City of Birmingham et al.
Plaintiffs Startley General Contractors, Inc. ("Startley"), and Mandy Powrzanas, appealed the denial of their renewed motion to have Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance, Jr. recuse himself from the underlying action the plaintiffs filed against the Water Works Board of the City of Birmingham ("BWWB"), Board members, Jones Utility and Contracting Co., Inc., and Richard Jones (collectively, “defendants.”). Plaintiffs alleged the defendants conspired to violate Alabama's competitive-bid law in ways that resulted in financial harm to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs contended that Judge Vance had received monetary contributions to his 2018 campaign for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from law firms and attorneys representing the defendants. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the renewed motion to recuse did not fall under the auspices of section 12–24–3, Ala. Code 1975, because it was not based on campaign contributions in "the immediately preceding election." Moreover, “even if [section] 12–24–3 did apply, the plaintiffs failed to establish a rebuttable presumption for recusal because, in order to meet the required threshold, the plaintiffs: (1) included contributions from law firms and individuals who were not ‘parties,’ as that term is defined in 12–24–3(c), to the case; (2) aggregated campaign contributions from multiple parties in contravention to 12–24–3(b) addressing campaign contributions made by ‘a party to the judge or justice’; and (3) incorrectly assumed that ‘total campaign contributions raised during the election cycle’ refers to one-month totals for campaign contributions rather than the ordinary meaning of an ‘election cycle,’ which concerns a longer period.” The Court concluded plaintiffs did not establish that a single, actual "party" to this case gave a "substantial campaign contribution" that would give rise to the conclusion that "[a] reasonable person would perceive that [Judge Vance's] ability to carry out his ... judicial responsibilities with impartiality is impaired." View "Startley General Contractors, Inc. v. Water Works Board of the City of Birmingham et al." on Justia Law
Utilities Board of the City of Opp v. Shuler Brothers, Inc.
The Utilities Board of the City of Opp appealed a circuit court's order that denied its motion to dismiss a third-party complaint filed by Shuler Brothers, Inc. The Alabama Electric Company (AEC) had filed suit against Shuler Brothers seeking recovery for services performed and for breach of contract when Shuler Brothers refused to pay an invoice for repairs AEC made to some equipment. Shuler Brothers argued that the repairs did not solve its equipment issue. Shuler Brothers alleged the Utilities Board was negligent in maintaining power lines going to its facility that was part of its equipment troubles. In its motion to dismiss, the Utilities Board argued that a two-year statute of limitations applied to Shuler Brothers' claim, and that the alleged negligence was not discovered until AEC served Shuler Brothers with its complaint. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment to deny the Utilities Board's motion to dismiss; reversed the circuit court's decision denying Shuler Brothers' breach-of-contract claim; and reversed the circuit court's denial of the Board's motion to dismiss Shuler Brothers' negligence claim. View "Utilities Board of the City of Opp v. Shuler Brothers, Inc. " on Justia Law
Roberts v. Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board
Novus Utilities, Inc. sought a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court to direct the Cullman Circuit Court to dismiss negligence and private-nuisance claims against it as time-barred. Eleven property owners residing in Cullman County sued Defendants the Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board and Southwest Water Company, alleging that the defendants had allowed approximately two million gallons of untreated raw sewage from the sewage-treatment facility operated by the Board to be discharged into waterways in Cullman County. They alleged that on January 21, 30, and 31, 2008, the sewage treatment facility released the untreated raw sewage, and that release created a health hazard and damaged and devalued their property. Novus was added as a defendant to the suit as a subsidiary of Southwest. Novus moved to dismiss claims against it. After careful consideration, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court was correct in denying Novus' motion to dismiss, and denied its petition for a writ of mandamus to quash the trial court's judgment. View "Roberts v. Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board" on Justia Law