Lawsuit against Loudon Utilities Board dismissed
Katherine Fernandez
Loudon Utilities Board recently received an order of dismissal without prejudice after a lawsuit requesting damages was filed against the board in April 2013.

The lawsuit contended that Joshua Fields, of Loudon County, came into contact with an “improperly placed power line” on April 8, 2012, at a location on Honeysuckle Road. Robert Fields and Cynthia Cantrell, sued for $350,000 in damages from the court and Joshua, a minor, sued for $750,000.

“A limb that a child was on came into contact with one of our power lines,” LUB attorney Joe Ford said. “They say in the complaint he was (injured), but I never got any information about what the extent of the injuries were.”

Ford said he answered the lawsuit and sent a written discovery requesting more detailed background information from the plaintiff. The written discovery included questions regarding address, phone number, who was supervising the child and details about the child’s injuries.

The plaintiff never responded, which is the legal reason for dismissing the case, Ford said.

“It’s really the first stage of a lawsuit is asking some general questions in writing before you start taking depositions, and it happens in every case,” Ford said. “You have a certain amount of time to answer those. They had them for over a year and never answered them.”

The plaintiff can appeal the decision within 30 days of the dismissal, but Ford said during the regular meeting he doubted any further action would be taken.

Lynn Mills, LUB and city of Loudon manager, said the board feels “that we had done nothing wrong.” He added that the utility cannot catch everyone playing in dangerous areas or planting trees within close proximity to power lines.

Mills said when the utility does attempt to cut down or trim dangerous trees, people complain because “it harms the tree and hurts the look of the tree.”

“Once it got up high enough to get into it, we can’t always catch everyone, but we try to maintain our lines to where there’s no danger, but we don’t expect the danger to be someone climbing the tree and bending the branches over toward the power line,” Mills said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved natural gas rates effective December 2014 delivered to the city gate for $3.8592 per dekatherm for November, which converts to a rate of $1.05 per 100 cubic feet for gas billed after Dec. 1 and is about $0.02 lower than last month’s rate.  

• Discussed the Tennessee fuel cost adjustment increasing from $0.01896 per kilowatt hour to $0.01971 per kilowatt hour, resulting in an increase of $0.75 per kilowatt hour for residential customers.