Class-action lawsuit filed against FPL after Irma leaves millions without power

Lawsuit claims FPL has collected millions from customers, hasn't kept promises

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Florida Power & Light on behalf of all Florida residents who were without -- and some who remain without -- electricity after Hurricane Irma.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Miami-Dade County court.

According to the lawsuit, FPL collected storm charge fees to allow for trees near power lines to be pruned and for moving some power lines underground. But FPL didn't do what was promised, the lawsuit claims.

"Obviously, they did not honor that promise, but nonetheless continue to collect millions and millions and millions of these fees," South Florida attorney Gonzalo Dorta said at a news conference to announce the lawsuit.

Dorta said FPL began collecting the fees after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

"What happened here was not a snowstorm," Dorta said. "It was a wind and rain event, which is typical in South Florida. But this is a monopoly that agreed to provide services in South Florida where these events are foreseeable."

The city of Coral Gables recently threatened legal action in a letter to FPL, saying the company has been slow to act.

"We understand that it's extremely frustrating for our customers to be without power," FPL spokesman Richard Beltran said in a statement. "That said, frivolous lawsuits and ludicrous code violations that attempt to pressure us into providing preferential treatment for their city will not work. Our focus is on restoring power to all of our customers, and we will not be moved by self-entitled politicians who are looking for someone to blame for the city's irresponsibly managed tree program. The fact is the city of Coral Gables has for many years resisted FPL's well-documented efforts to trim trees and harden our electric system. Unfortunately for our customers in that area, they are now paying the price in terms of extended outages due to hundreds of trees that have fallen into our lines."