Does Fraud Claim By Homeowners Against Electric Company Fall Under Exclusive Jurisdiction of Public Utilities Commission?
Or May Plaintiffs Seek Damages Through Tort Lawsuit In Common Pleas Court
Carl DiFranco et al. v. First Energy et al., Case no. 2011-2025
Eleventh District Court of Appeals (Geauga County)
ISSUE: When customers of an electric utility company seek to recover damages based on a claim that the company fraudulently induced them to buy all-electric homes or convert from non-electric to electric heating by promising a "permanent" discount on their monthly electric bills, but later rescinded that discount, do the customers' claims against the company constitute a "dispute over utility rates or service" that may only be be resolved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), or are they common law fraud claims that are subject to resolution through a lawsuit in common pleas court?