CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) — Motley Rice, on behalf of the County of Charleston, South Carolina, filed a suit today alleging that telecommunications companies have failed to properly bill, collect, and remit 911 charges from its business customers that are owed to the County’s Consolidated 911 Center. The suit is the first of its kind in South Carolina.
The County is authorized under South Carolina law to impose a monthly 911 charge, currently $0.50, on all telephone service lines within the County’s jurisdiction. While residential lines are likely being properly billed, the County alleges that the defendants are violating the law by not properly assessing its business customers. It alleges that the defendants’ conduct deprives the County of critical funding for its 911 Center. The County’s claims include violations of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act and violations of its statutory rights. It is seeking recovery of the uncollected charges from the telecommunications companies and an injunction requiring them to correct their billing practices going forward.
“We believe that Charleston County is potentially due millions in uncollected 911 charges,” said Motley Rice attorney Marlon Kimpson. “The County’s Consolidated 911 Center operates on behalf the emergency response agencies in the county, including agencies for the City of Charleston, City of North Charleston, and the Town of Mt. Pleasant. It is not up to telecommunication companies to decide whether or not to bill its business customers and collect the 911 charges, which are critical to maintaining the 911 emergency services infrastructure.”
Motley Rice attorney Lance Oliver said, “911 emergency call centers provide a vital public service during times of greatest need. For telecommunications companies to not remit what is owed, poses a direct threat to the residents of Charleston County. We also believe that this practice occurs in other South Carolina counties. We hope to spark change across the state and the country and to help provide the necessary resources for 911 emergency services to operate as effectively as possible.”
Defendants named in the suit are: AT&T Corp.; BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC; Teleport Communications America, LLC; Bandwidth.com CLEC, LLC; United Telephone Company of the Carolinas, LLC; Comcast Phone of South Carolina, Inc.; DeltaCom, LLC; Business Telecom, LLC; Knology Broadband, Inc; Knology of South Carolina, Inc.; Knology of Charleston, Inc.; Level 3 Communications, LLC; Level 3 Telecom of South Carolina, LLC; Time Warner Cable Information Services (South Carolina),LLC; Telcove Operations, LLC; McClellanville Telephone Company, Inc.; US LEC of South Carolina LLC; Windstream Nuvox, LLC; and YMAX Communications Corp.