Access to Water Service
In recent years this office has developed a specialty and expertise in the area of securing and protecting water utility rights for consumers who have been unjustly denied access to water service in violation of Equal Protection or who have had their service disconnected by various water utility companies without proper notice in violation of Due Process of Law. This happens frequently in small rural towns and villages, at least in Southeastern Ohio and Southern Indiana. The discrimination is against the poor. The petty bureaucrats and clerks of these towns and villages who are given power and authority and those who are in-charge of these utility companies enjoy running roughshod over the powerless because they can. We have frequently seen a denial of service to a new tenant who moves into a residence where the previous occupant may not have paid a bill. The people in-charge often take the position that service should not be provided until the new tenant pays the bill regardless of the fact that he or she had no connection with prior usage or user. Or you may have a situation where a utility refuses to provide service unless a landlord guarantees payment of a water bill which many landlords or property owners, understandably, are reluctant to do. Such denials can invoke the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
On other occasions the water service is turned-off without any notice of the right to dispute and/or to request a hearing prior to disconnection. This invokes the Due Process Clause of the 5th and 14 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
We have filed lawsuits which have resulted in consent decrees against towns and villages and even cities. Unfortunately, consent decrees are signed but often ignored. It presents some very frustrating situations. Much could be accomplished if only local newspapers in these communities would take an interest in reporting stories of these abuses. Instead, they typically report nothing. In one instance, a local newspaper published a story that a community was about to formulate new water policies and regulations yet, incredibly, never reported that the same community was also under a Court ordered consent decree which it was currently being sued for violating. Fortunately, there are the certain “statewide” newspapers covering these communities which will report this information to their readers and have even taken these communities to task for their “foolish” practices.
If you or someone you know has recently had your water service suspended or disconnected or you have been denied service please contact us and tell us your story.
NEED HELP: If this is being read by any Fortville, Indiana resident who has suffered a termination of their water service and has had to pay a reconnection charge or fee in order to restore service, please contact this office.