Town of Fortville facing federal lawsuit over water disconnection

INDIANAPOLIS - A Fortville woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Fortville alleging they shut off her water without a required hearing, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

In the complaint filed July 9 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Michelle Allen-Gregory said she received a $63.94 water bill due Jan. 17, 2014, or $69.17 if received thereafter.

The bill indicated water service would be immediately disconnected if payment was not received by Jan. 28, 2014.

In the lawsuit, Allen-Gregory said she made out a check to "Fortville Utilities" on Jan. 20, 2014, left the check in her purse and forgot to drop it off.

The Town of Fortville, Fortville Waterworks and Fortville Utilities are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

According to the suit, Allen-Gregory's water was disconnected on Jan. 30, and the utility left a notice on her front door.

Allen-Gregory then remembered the check and dropped it off at the utility, but she was informed her service would not be reconnected unless she paid a $50 reconnection fee.

Allen-Gregory paid the $50 reconnection fee, but then the Fortville resident started researching.

Her attorney Steve Shane is seeking class action certification from the court, claiming the reconnection fees were assessed unlawfully.

According to the suit, water customers are entitled to a hearing before the utility can shut off their water.

Allen-Gregory declined to be interviewed on camera.

Fortville Town Manager Joe Renner directed questions to the town's attorney, who declined to comment.

Shane said his client hopes to recover remedies and damages, and on behalf of water company customers all of the $50 reconnection fees that were "unlawfully assessed every time service was terminated in violation of the customers' due process rights."

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