Federal Court Sustains Consumer Fraud, Class Action Claims

In October 2011, our attorneys filed a consumer fraud class action complaint in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all New York consumers who purchased their retail electricity from the independent energy supplier, Energy Plus Holdings LLC.  The Complaint alleges that Energy Plus deceptively lures consumers into purchasing their electricity supply by promising frequent flier rewards or cash back.  The suit also alleges that notwithstanding Energy Plus’ representation that its rates are competitive and reflective of market prices, Energy Plus charges exorbitant rates for its electricity, sometimes more than two to three times the rate local utilities charge.  For everyday consumers, having to pay an electricity bill that is hundreds of dollars more than it should be can be financially devastating. Energy Plus sought to have the suit dismissed, arguing that its statements regarding pricing were not deceptive or actionable, but merely constituted “puffery.”  Fortunately, the federal judge presiding over the action rejected that argument:

[Energy Plus’] allegedly deceptive statements plausibly may be read by a reasonable consumer as a representation that Energy Plus’ prices are at least relatively comparable both to competitors’ prices and to prevailing market rates.  Given that the Plaintiffs have alleged that Energy Plus’ rates are in fact two to three times greater and that Energy Plus’ rates rise or remain steady during some periods when market rates decline, the Plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the challenged statements are deceptive.  Further, Energy Plus’ failure to disclose the alleged truth about its prices plausibly renders its other statements misleading.

The case is now in discovery, as the action moves towards being certified as a class action so that the interests of all New York customers of Energy Plus can be represented in a single proceeding. If you or someone you know is a customer of Energy Plus in New York or elsewhere, or any other independent supplier, and you believe you may have been misled as to the price of electricity, please contact us to discuss your legal options.