Cobb EMC is attempting to settle a class-action lawsuit that accuses the Marietta-based electric cooperative of withholding millions of dollars in credits from its 175,000 customers, also called members.
At the end of each year, Cobb EMC, a nonprofit organization, puts its extra cash in an account where it is supposed to be distributed among its members based on how much electricity they use. The nonprofit is required by its own bylaws to refund the money to its member customers.
But the suit says that $286 million should have been returned to members but instead was kept. An estimated 900,000 customers are now owed money.
The EMC has offered a settlement to pay $98 million, about one-third of what the suit says it owes.
Alpharetta attorney Chester Arter filed an official objection to the settlement on behalf of a Cherokee County customer of Cobb EMC claiming the utility wasn’t offering enough money and made it too difficult to get the cash, but he withdrew that objection on Friday.
Arter said his client decided not to follow through with her objection after being ordered to undergo a deposition.
Both Arter and his client would have been deposed, making them subject to cross examination by the EMC’s attorneys, which Arter said was unusual and unnecessary.
“My client did not want to be deposed,” Arter said.
He expressed disappointment the objection was withdrawn, saying it “had a lot of merit.”
Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster signed a preliminary order in October but is scheduled to hold a final approval hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Arter claimed in his now-defunct objection the EMC should pay the full value of what the suit alleged it owes. He also said customers had two choices: Be paid based on “present day value” or receive 100 percent of what they are owed over the next 24.6 years.
Those claims were rebutted in a joint statement issued by attorneys involved in the class-action settlement — Hylton Dupree, attorney for current members, Charles Gabriel, attorney for former members, and Kevin Moore, attorney for Cobb EMC.
“The statements previously made by counsel for this lone objector contained several inaccuracies, particularly with respect to the total amount of money available to class members, the timing of those payments, and the impact on those who do not file claims,” the statement said.
Moore said Judge Schuster ordered attorneys to only speak to the media through joint statements.
Though Arter said in his objection fewer than 10 percent of eligible customers have filed claims, attorneys behind the settlement contend thousands of claims are being processed, representing millions of dollars, with the filing deadline still weeks away.
If you are/were a current or former customer of Cobb EMC, you may be eligible for payment under a class-action settlement. Claims must be filed by Feb. 10. Visit cobbemcsettlement.com or call 1-888-292-8850 for more information.