Opelousas Trust Authority v. Cleco CorporationAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the district court or the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) has subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate a claim by a putative class of utility ratepayers in the City of Opelousas against Cleco Corporation and Cleco Power, LLC (Cleco). The ratepayers sought reimbursement for alleged overcharges for electricity for a period of nearly twenty years, based on a franchise agreement Cleco signed with the City of Opelousas in 1991. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court and sustained Cleco's exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction because this is primarily a rate case that must be decided, in the first instance, by the LPSC. Furthermore, the Court found that LA. CONST. art. IV, section 21 (C) was inapplicable, which excludes from the LPSC's exclusive authority a public utility owned, operated, or regulated by a political subdivision, as this case did not involve a municipally-owned public utility company. Accordingly, the rulings of the lower courts were vacated and the ratepayers' claims were dismissed.