DALLAS (Legal Newsline) – A Texas-based energy provider is confident a new lawsuit alleging it committed consumer fraud by misleading customers on what they would pay on their monthly bills will be dismissed by a New Jersey court.
Three plaintiffs filed a class action against Ambit Energy in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in November complaining it promised lower bills but failed to clearly inform them payments would likely rise.
A similar complaint, also filed in New Jersey, was dismissed last year after a judge ruled the contract stated rates could change if customers chose a variable, rather than a fixed rate, plan.
“Last year, a federal court in New Jersey dismissed a class action complaint against Ambit and found we have complied with our customer agreements,” Ambit representative Drew Wilson told Legal Newsline. “We intend to seek a similar dismissal of this new action.
“Customer satisfaction is a priority for Ambit Energy, and we take great pride in demonstrating high standards of integrity. We dispute the allegations in the complaint and intend to vigorously defend the case.”
The lawsuit Wilson referred to was a class action complaint alleging the company attracted customers by claiming competitive rates, but then charging higher prices.
Ambit violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by its misleading practices and unjustly enriched itself, alleged the complaint, filed by Michael Urbino on behalf of himself and others in 2015.
The company, in its marketing materials, repeatedly promised customers “consistent” and “low” rates, the complaint stated. U.S District Judge Michael Shipp, sitting in New Jersey, dismissed the complaint without oral argument, ruling the contracts signed by the plaintiffs allowed Ambit to change its rates when wanted.
Shipp ruled the terms of service agreement clearly conveyed that if a customer selected a variable plan then those rates were subject to change at Ambit’s discretion.
“The contract does not mention savings or make guarantees of any kind,” Shipp wrote in his 14-page ruling.
The three New Jersey consumers, who filed their class action in the same court, also allege violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
Joshua Little, Samantha Mason and Gregory Stewart accuse the third-party energy provider of unlawful budget billing practices.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege they suffered damages from being charged additional for their monthly budget bills.
The plaintiffs hold Ambit Energy Holdings LLC and Ambit Northeast LLC responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to disclose to consumers about the additional charges added on top of the budget billing program.
The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek monetary relief, restitution, monetary damages, treble damages, compensatory damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief the court deems just.