SCANA attorney pushes for dismissal of 5 class action lawsuits

SCANA attorney pushes for dismissal of 5 class action lawsuits

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The matter may not be resolved for days or even weeks, but today was the start of determining the fate of five class action lawsuits against SCANA after the closure of the VC Summer Nuclear site.

The hearing took place Monday inside a courtroom at the Richland County Courthouse. The morning began with arguments from James Becker, of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, and one of the attorneys for SCANA.

Becker argued that those class action lawsuits filed against the utility company should be dismissed because they cannot be heard in a circuit court. Instead, he says it should go before the Public Service Commission. Beyond that, he said it's an issue for the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

"The most prudent thing for you to do if you have any indecision is to stay these cases," Becker told the judge. "Let it play out in front of the PSC, let it play out in front of the South Carolina Supreme Court. And there will be time enough for us to reconvene right here in this courtroom if there's anything else to argue about after that process has taken place."

Meanwhile, attorneys for the plaintiffs in those class action lawsuits -  including former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom - said the circuit court does have jurisdiction over this case because the PSC lacks the ability to refund ratepayers.

Becker cited the Base Load Review Act, passed in 2007, that allowed SCANA to charge ratepayers for the nuclear reactor site's construction before it was complete. The solicitor for the Attorney General's office, Bob Cook, argued Monday that the law is unconstitutional.

No word on when a decision will come down, but a source in the courtroom tells WIS a decision could be made in a week or two.

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