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Court Allows Class-Action Lawsuit On Opa-Locka Water Bills

Historic Opa-locka City Hall

An appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for part of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the financially troubled city of Opa-locka overbilled customers for water use.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit judge’s “certification” of a class of customers who contend they were overbilled.

“The plaintiffs seeking to represent the overbilled class have ... demonstrated their standing to maintain class certification by showing that a case or controversy exists between the plaintiffs and the city regarding alleged overbilling for water services,” said the 10-page opinion, written by Judge Eric Hendon and joined by Judges Ivan Fernandez and Fleur Lobree. “We conclude that the plaintiffs have demonstrated sufficient interest in the outcome of the litigation to proceed.”

The panel, however, overturned class certification in another part of the case alleging that the city improperly used money paid as deposits for water service.

The opinion said the case involves allegations related to the Miami-Dade County city’s “decade-long policy and practice of estimating customer water usage and its decision to use customer water deposits to satisfy budget shortfalls during the city’s ongoing financial crisis.”