STEPHENS CITY LAWSUIT AND RATE INFORMATION
STEPHENS CITY RATES AND BILLINGS
STEPHENS CITY LAWSUIT
In March of 2015, the Town of Stephens City stopped paying Frederick Water for water or wastewater services that Frederick Water provides to the Town’s residents. On August 28, 2015, the Town then sued Frederick Water over its water and wastewater contracts in the Circuit Court of Frederick County.
The Town’s complaint requested money from Frederick Water for allegedly erroneous billing and alleged excess pumping from the Town’s quarries, as well as seeking a court order holding that Frederick Water no longer was authorized to pump water from the quarries in accordance with Frederick Water’s easement. On Frederick Water’s motion, the Town’s initial complaint was largely dismissed in the fall of 2015, including the Town’s claim that Frederick Water’s right to pump water from the quarries had expired.
However, in January of 2016, the Town filed an amended complaint. This filing reasserted the rejected theory that the right to take water had expired and added the allegation that numerous agreements the Town had entered into with Frederick Water were invalid because allegedly adopted without the requisite approvals by the Town Council and notice to the public. Frederick Water filed responsive pleadings, seeking dismissal of the Town’s amended complaint.
On July 27, 2017, the Circuit Court of Frederick County sustained Frederick Water’s demurrer and dismissed most of the claims made in the Town’s amended complaint. Among the rejected claims was the Town’s argument that the agreements were invalid because allegedly adopted without observance of the requirements that generally apply to sales of certain property rights held by towns. The Court agreed with Frederick Water that these requirements did not apply to the transfers between the Town and Frederick Water, another political subdivision of the Commonwealth. As before, the Town’s claim that Frederick Water’s right to pump water from the quarries had expired was rejected by the court and the Town’s claim dismissed.
Per the court’s scheduling order, the parties briefed Frederick Water’s second responsive pleading, a plea in bar, which seeks dismissal, based on the statute of limitations, of most of the remaining claims in the Town’s amended complaint.
While that briefing was in process, the Town brought three (3) motions against Frederick Water. On October 27, 2017, the Circuit Court heard and denied all three (3) of the Town of Stephens City’s Motions:
- The Town’s Motion to Compel and Motion for Entry of Second Supplemental Scheduling Order.
- The Town’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Barring use of the Bartonsville Well.
- The Town’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Relating to Wastewater.
A hearing on the entry of Orders denying the foregoing motions of the Town was held on December 6, 2017. Also at that December 6, 2017 hearing, the Circuit Court heard and decided several additional motions. These were:
- the Town’s Motion for Leave to Increase Ad Damnum. Granted.
- the Town’s Jury Demand on Frederick Water’s Plea in Bar. Denied.
- the Town’s Motion to Transfer Venire, asking that any jury be drawn from another County. Denied.
- Frederick Water’s Motion for Discovery Sanctions and to Compel a Proper Response to Discovery by the Town to Frederick Water’s Interrogatories 6, 8, and 23. Granted.
The Town was ordered to provide a sufficient response to Frederick Water’s Interrogatories 6, 8, and 23 by January 5, 2018. At the same time, the Court scheduled a January 17, 2018, hearing for entry of orders on the foregoing motions and to take up two additional motions filed by the Town.
At the January 17, 2018, hearing, the Circuit Court denied both of the Town’s Motions.
- The Town’s Motion to Overrule Objections. Denied.
- The Town’s Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint to Allege Actual Fraud and Constructive Fraud. Denied.
A hearing was then set for February 14, 2018, for entry of the Orders denying the Town’s Motions and to decide Frederick Water’s Motion for Dismissal of Certain Claims, to Compel a Proper Response, and for Other Discovery Sanctions. Frederick Water’s Motion was directed to the Town’s court-ordered response to Frederick Water’s Interrogatories 6, 8, and 23, which was made on January 5, 2018.
On February 14, 2018, the Circuit Court heard and granted two discovery motions—the Town’s Motion to Compel a further response to Interrogatory 6, 7, and 8, and Frederick Water’s Motion for Dismissal of Certain Claims, to Compel a Proper Response, and for Other Discovery Sanctions. In granting these Motions, the Circuit Court
- Struck many of the expert opinions the Town had proposed to offer in the case,
- Dismissed all of the Town’s billing errors claims, except its claim regarding billings of the Parkins Mill Wastewater Treatment Facility’s debt service,
- Ordered the Town to fully and fairly respond to Frederick Water’s Interrogatory 23 by March 7, 2018, and
- Ordered Frederick Water to provide a supplemental narrative responses to the Town’s Interrogatory 6, 7, and 8.
Also at the hearing, the Court set a hearing on Frederick Water’s plea in bar for April 25, 2018, and directed the parties to provide statements of expected witnesses and exhibits.
On February 15, 2018, Frederick Water filed counterclaims against the Town, seeking, among other things, over $5.7 million in unpaid invoices and penalties for water and wastewater services provided after the Town quit paying in March 2015.
The filings and orders referenced above can be found in the links below.
04-18-2018 Order Granting FCSA’s Motion for Dismissal of Certain Claims and Compelling a Proper Response to Discovery, Granting the Town’s Motion to Compel and Scheduling a Trial of FCSA’s Plea in Bar