Lawsuit filed against Independence Power and Light after flood of over-billing complaints

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a summer filled with complaints.

Customers of Independence Power and Light said they've had huge spikes in their bills. Now, one customer is suing the utility company as part of a class-action lawsuit.

The expense was more than he could bear. Independence native Barry Jones, a retired firefighter who now operates a small business, said his monthly bill tripled over just a few months.

That`s what led him to file a lawsuit against the city, seeking damages for himself and 58,000 other customers.

"At the time, I even asked my wife, 'Did we pay last month's bill?'" Jones shrugged, speaking exclusively with FOX4.

Jones said he wasn't behind in his payments. The lawsuit contends that Jones, as well as other customers, were over-billed, a practice that coincides with the utility company's use of new billing software.

During the summer months, FOX4 covered multiple stories where customers complained about large hikes in their utility expenses as billed by the city.

"The first noticeable bill was about double what my previous bill was. The next one jumped about 60 to 80 percent. The next one jumped about 40 percent," Jones said.

The suit said Jones was billed for a large jump in kilowatts used during one month while he was out of town for three weeks, a period when his usage should have been measured as being lower.

Jones' attorney, Christopher Accurso, said Independence Power and Light billed each customer for too many kilowatts each month, thereby, justifying the high price.

A spokesperson for the city of Independence said the city has no comment on this lawsuit. In the recent past, the city said it has checked every bill that's been questioned. It also has an auditor making sure bills are calculated correctly.

This week, Independence Mayor Eileen Weir formed a council committee to look into customers' concerns.

"The lawsuit we've filed is on behalf of all those customers who have been wronged and have had Independence Power and Light take money from them they've worked hard to earn. We want to put it back in their pockets and make them whole," Accurso said.

"The stories of the little old lady in the apartment who is paying the $500 electric bill -- that's what got me right here. That's what made me step out and want to be a leader in this," Jones said.

There's no court date for this case yet. Accurso said the damages he's seeking for his clients could in the tens of millions of dollars.