TORONTO— Koskie Minsky LLP and Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP filed a Statement of Claim last week in a class action against Hydro One Inc. and four of its subsidiaries (collectively, “Hydro One”) that alleges widespread and improper billing, account management, and customer service practices. The claim is brought on behalf of all of Hydro One’s customers since May 2013.
Hydro One owns and operates substantially all of Ontario’s electricity transmission system and delivers and sells electricity to approximately 75 percent of Ontario electricity customers. Hydro One is currently wholly owned by the Government of Ontario.
The Statement of Claim alleges that in or around May 2013, Hydro One installed a new billing and account management system. According to the Statement of Claim, as a result of Hydro One’s faulty design, administration and management of this new system, problems arose immediately, such as: (a) tens of thousands of customers stopped receiving bills; (b) others only received bills based on estimates for long periods, later receiving massive “catch-up” bills; (c) many customers had large sums of money withdrawn automatically by Hydro One from their bank accounts without notice or explanation; and (d) thousands of customers were affected by billing and administrative errors, including bills that did not reflect the electricity actually consumed. According to the Statement of Claim, when customers contacted Hydro One regarding these issues, they were met with inadequate answers, obfuscation, and avoidance.
The Statement of Claim further alleges that as a result of Hydro One’s conduct, its customers have suffered damages. The proposed class action seeks $125 million dollars in damages.
Bill Bennett is the proposed representative plaintiff in the class action. Since the implementation of Hydro One’s new billing and account management system, Mr. Bennett has experienced numerous billing anomalies including “catch up” bills, “revised” bills, and significant and unexplained increases in electricity costs. For example, in April 2015 without any warning, the Statement of Claim notes, Mr. Bennett received an envelope from Hydro One containing nearly 40 “revised” bills, for the period between October 2011 and February 2015. These “revised” bills, all dated February 26, 2015, reflected a significant increase of approximately 185 percent in Mr. Bennett’s alleged electricity bills between the period October 2011 and July 2013. Mr. Bennett has not received an adequate explanation for these significant problems. The Statement of Claim alleges that these issues typify the experiences of Hydro One customers since May 2013.
On May 25, 2015, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin issued a report entitled “In the Dark” which reached scathing conclusions regarding Hydro One’s conduct, including an unprecedented number of complaints, deception by Hydro One of its regulator, failed attempts to hide the extent of the impact of its billing system errors, and “mind-boggling maladministration.”
“We have heard from scores of Hydro One customers who have been abused by Hydro One’s improper billing practices,” says Kirk M. Baert, a partner at Koskie Minsky LLP. “It is time for Hydro One to account for its failures.”
Eric R. Hoaken, a partner at Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP, added, “Many of Hydro One’s customers simply cannot afford to take legal action. A class action is the only way they will be able to achieve meaningful access to justice against Hydro One.”
Koskie Minsky LLP and Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP represent the proposed class in this action. To read the entire Statement of Claim, visit: http://www.kmlaw.ca/