Lawsuit seeks money for FPL customers left in dark. Municipalities may sue next.

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Those who lost power after Hurricane may soon be part of a class-action lawsuit against Florida Power & Light.

MSP Recovery Law of Kendall and Dorta Law of Coral Gables filed the suit Monday. More than four million customers lost power after Hurricane Irma blasted Florida, said MSP lawyer John H. Ruiz.

In the suit, the two firms argue that FPL collected storm charge fees, usually $2 to $10 a month, to allow for trees near power lines to be pruned and for moving some power lines underground. But FPL didn’t do what it promised, Ruiz said.

“Multiply that by millions. Multiply that by months in the calendar year and that adds up,” he said. “Instead of using that money and being prepared, they waited until the storm hit.”

He said that if the court certifies the case, FPL customers who lost power can expect to receive a notice of the lawsuit in the next year. Those who want to opt out can at that point.

Richard Beltran, a spokesman for FPL, said the utility had no comment on the lawsuit.

The law firms could soon be joined by two municipalities that are threatening litigation against the power company. Coral Gables and Pinecrest both issued threats, citing the slow pace of power restoration in their jurisdictions.

Ruiz said the two firms that sued Monday expect the damages to be reimbursed to total $2 to $3 billion.

Sandra Speier, a Pilates instructor and personal trainer who lives in Coconut Grove, was at the news conference and said she she joined the suit after being without power nine days and counting.

She said her 13-year-old son went to a neighbors house to sleep the previous night because their house was 88 degrees.

“It was brutal,” she said. “It’s still brutal.”

Attorney Gonzalo Dorta also said the lawyers will be looking to see who got power first. He hopes the vast outages and the suit will cause the county to look for other providers when its contract with FPL is up in two years.

“It’s up to our leaders to revisit that franchise agreement,” he said.


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