One of the most common transactions in city of Chicago and its suburbs is the billing and paying for water usage. These transactions are rarely questioned, and the bills are mostly paid on time and in full. That is, until a group of Tinley Park residents became suspicious of the amounts being charged by the municipal water authority and charged the city with consumer fraud.
In 2015, a Tinley Park resident became suspicious of the amount that the city was charging for water usage. The resident and a local newspaper investigated the matter. The investigation revealed that that the city had installed new meters that operated defectively and overcharged water users. The meters were prone to “spinning,” a condition in which the meter’s wheels would turn and add to the customer’s water bill even though no water was being pumped or even if a refund was owed to the user for erroneous over-billing.
A group of residents decided to commence a class action lawsuit against the village to reclaim their overpayments. The residents alleged that the village knew about the defects in the meters, but declined to make necessary repairs. The citizens alleged that the village’s conduct violated the state’s consumer fraud and deceptive business practices act, and also breached an implied contract with the residents. At a special meeting on October 8, 2019, the village trustees voted to accept a settlement in which the village agreed to pay $425,000 to water customers and a total of $700,000 when attorneys’ fees are added.