Citizens sue to stop SCE&G dividend payouts

WINNSBORO – Eleven Fairfield County residents in a lawsuit filed against SCANA/SCE&G in August, have filed a motion in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court to have a state judge order a freeze of SCANA/SCE&G’s next dividend payment which is scheduled for Jan. 1.

“If a judge doesn’t freeze SCANA’s assets, it will pay out $87.3 million on Jan. 1 to shareholders,” Creighton Coleman, one of the attorney for the plaintiffs, said.

In their motion, the plaintiffs’ request that any dividends paid out be paid into a trust account until the plaintiffs’ lawsuit is resolved. The motion contends that the money from dividend payments to shareholders should be preserved so that sufficient assets will be available for potential liabilities.

The lawsuit also seeks to have the court freeze assets of the company related to the nuclear plant project.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies “knew years before abandoning the project that the project was not feasible; not subject to a detailed construction schedule; not a good investment of the ratepayer’s money, over budget; and failing.”

The plaintiffs allege that SCANA/SCE&G charged customers up to $1 billion over the years for its failed nuclear expansion project and seeks to recover money for all of the company’s ratepayers in the Columbia and Charleston areas.

The lawsuit alleges 11 causes of action, including waste, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and fraud. It accuses the companies of unjust enrichment for receiving profits from the project “since the project was not completed and the plaintiffs were not provided with any value from the project.”

In addition to Coleman, other lawyers for the plaintiffs include Ed Bell of Georgetown, Greg Galvin of Bluffton and State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw.