Johnson Utilities logo

PHOENIX — Long-term customers of the former Johnson Utilities company may start seeing a credit on their bills next year after coming to a proposed $10,350,000 settlement in a class action lawsuit against the water and wastewater company was filed on Nov. 19.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, residents who have been customers of Johnson Utilities since Oct. 1, 2011, would see a credit on their bill, according to records from the U.S. District Court of Arizona. Customers do not have to do anything to receive the credit on their bill.

The amount of the credit would vary depending on how long the person has been a customer and what kind of services they received. Residents who have been customers of Johnson Utilities for the last 10 years could see a credit of up to $172.50 on their bill. Customers could see the credit on their bills as early as the first quarter of next year, depending on when or if the court approves the settlement.

Former Johnson Utilities customers will be notified by mail and will have a check sent to them for their share of the settlement.

EPCOR, which purchased Johnson Utilities in January 2021 and is not a party in the lawsuit, has agreed to notify customers of the settlement, once it is approved, and distribute the funds from the settlement as credits on customers’ bills. Customers will also receive information on how to opt out of the settlement if they wish.

According to records from the U.S. District Court of Arizona, in 2017 a class action lawsuit was filed by a group of customers against Johnson Utilities and a handful of other defendants. The class action suit includes all customers who paid for water or wastewater service from Johnson Utilities after Oct. 1, 2011.

The lawsuit claimed that Johnson Utilities and the other defendants conspired to unlawfully increase the water and wastewater rates of the company by allegedly using a lobbyist to bribe the chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2011. The claim was based on a 2017 federal grand jury indictment of George Johnson, Johnson Utilities, the lobbyist and the firm that allegedly bribed the ACC chairman on Johnson’s behalf. A federal jury could not reach a unanimous agreement on the criminal case and federal prosecutors decided not to retry the case.

The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit amended their complaint to include additional information and claims from the criminal case in May 2020.

The class action lawsuit also has a pending motion before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. When Johnson Utilities was sold to EPCOR in January, the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit filed for an injunction to prevent the transfer of the majority of proceeds of the sale. Johnson Utilities appealed the injunction to the 9th Circuit, which put a stay on the proceedings once it was notified that a settlement might be in the works.

The U.S. District Court is expected to rule on the settlement sometime in the next few months.

0
0
0
0
0

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.