BLG has filed a series of lawsuits in federal and state court against Georgia telephone service providers for failing to bill, collect, and turn over the proper 911 fees designed by state law to fund local 911 operations. The lawsuits seek to recover for County Government’s 911 systems millions of dollars for three years of alleged unpaid fees.
“These suits are necessary because the telephone service providers have a statutory and fiduciary responsibility under Georgia law to properly bill, collect, and remit 911 fees,” said Roy E. Barnes, counsel for the County governments. “We believe, based on the evidence we have received, that responsibility has not been met. These monies need to be paid for the benefit of the counties’ 911 systems.”
Fifteen telephone service providers allegedly are misrepresenting the types and number of phone lines upon which the 911 fees are applied and are significantly under-billing customers, the suits say. The under collection of 911 fees for each line allegedly translates to a $9 million annual loss in Cobb County and an $8 million annual loss in Gwinnett County. The Counties contend these funds are necessary and should have been available for improvements to Cobb and Gwinnett’s 911 systems. The legislature approved the collection of these funds to support the critical lifesaving mission of 911 systems.
“The failure of these companies to pay their obligations could eventually result in the taxpayers of Cobb and Gwinnett counties picking up the bill. The taxpayers should not have to supplement this gap,” said Barnes.
Roy Barnes and John Bevis of Barnes Law Group and David Worley and James Evangelista of Harris Penn Lowry are representing Cobb and Gwinnett Counties in the litigation. No taxpayer dollars will be spent on the litigation. If the lawsuits fail, neither county will owe legal fees.
The individual lawsuits are against major telecommunications carriers operating in each County, including BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC (d/b/a AT&T Georgia); Verizon Enterprise Solutions, LLC; Bandwidth.com CLEC, LLC; Broadriver Communication Corporation; Broadvox, LLC; CBeyond Communications, LLC; Charter Fiberlink – Georgia, LLC; Earthlink, LLC (and its subsidiaries Business Telecom, Inc. and DeltaCom, LLC); Inteliquent, Inc.; Level 3 Communications, LLC; Network Telephone, LLC; Peerless Network of Georgia, LLC; Windstream Communications, Inc (and its subsidiaries NuVox Communications, Inc. and Southern Digital); XO Communications Services, LLC; and YMax Communications Corp.