Members of Cobb EMC are trying to get 20,000 signatures on a petition to prompt a new election of board members
ATLANTA -- Hundreds of thousands of former Cobb EMC customers in nine Metro Atlanta counties may soon be asking, where's the money.
It will take a just-filed class action lawsuit to find out.
Lawyers are looking for $300 million they say is owed to former Cobb EMC customers.
They put money into the co-op 15 to 20 years ago, but the lawsuit contends they never got anything back when the EMC made money. Charles Gabriel, an Alpharetta attorney whose law firm, Pierce, Gabriel & Parker, filed the action, says instead of sharing in the co-op's profits, the money stayed with the Cobb EMC.
"While they were members they paid money for their service. That money came back at the end of the year in a pro-rated basis as profits in their accounts. When they left they should have gotten it back or the right to get it back later," Gabriel said.
11Alive's Bill Liss asked, "Did they get it back?"
"No," Gabriel said.
Liss asked how far back the customer list goes to get reimbursement.
"For some," Gabriel said, "it goes back to the 40s."
Are they entitled to that money, we asked?
"Absolutely," said Gabriel.
But not so fast says Cobb EMC's lawyer Dwight Davis.
"Are they (the former members of the Cobb EMC) entitled to this money -- the answer is no," Davis said.
"Why," Liss asked.
"What they are entitled to is to have the (Cobb EMC) board of directors make a decision based upon the working of the bylaws of the company and very importantly the economic circumstances at the time to decide whether they should make such a distribution," Davis said.
Davis admits distributions have been made in the past but insists it's a board of directors decision -- and right now Davis says, keeping rates down and growth up is where the money needs to be. It'll take the courts to decide this one.