Here’s a case that’s shaping up as a 21st-century Jarndyce v. Jarndyce.

The Asbury Park Press has a story about an appellate court decision issued yesterday in a lawsuit over power outages in July, 1999.


At issue is whether lawsuits aginst the power utility Jersey Central Power & Light Co. may proceed as a class action on behalf of thousands of customers affected by the outages, which originated at the company’s Red Bank substation. JCP&L, then a subsidiary of GPU, is now owned by FirstEnergy.

The appeals court, taking its third crack at the case, ruled that the class action could move ahead.

The ruling, could allow more than 100,000 individuals and business to be represented by the primary plaintiffs, the Press reports.

From the story:

The litigation stemmed from the series of power outages and rolling blackouts July 3 to 8 that were caused by the malfunctioning of two electrical transformers at the Red Bank substation. High heat and electrical demand also contributed, officials have said.

The latest decision was the third time that the matter has come before an appellate panel. A lawsuit was filed in 1999 by [attorney Frank] Gaudio on behalf of Madeline Muise of Fair Haven, who was without power for three days. Others have since become interested in seeking compensation for losses. Initially, a statewide class had been certified for the lawsuit but a trial court threw out that certification. However, lawyers representing individuals and business owners served by the Red Bank substation argued that the outages there were caused by an equipment malfunction, Gaudio said.

Engineers have said porcelain insulators that surrounded 230,000-volt cables feeding the transformers broke, causing them to fail. The number of outages in the Monmouth County area served by the Red Bank substation peaked July 6, affecting 105,000 customers.

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