DES MOINES, Iowa — After years of lawsuits, appeals and rulings Des Moines residents are finally getting their franchise fee refunds. Or at least what is left after paying attorney fees.
The checks began arriving in mailboxes today after being mailed late last week. The refunds are the result of a lawsuit against the city that claimed Des Moines officials were illegally charging an inflated fee on utility bills.
The case was originally in 2004 by Lisa Kragnes. In 2009 the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The ruling was then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2012 which upheld the ruling. It was then time to sort out legal fees. In 2013 Schroeder requested 15 million in attorney’s fees which was rejected in place of seven million. In January 2015 the Iowa court of appeals issued one final ruling confirming the legal fees and the total amount to be refunded.
After subtracting legal fees from the original settlement of $40 million dollars there is $32 million left to be redistributed to Mid-American customers. However just because you’re getting a check doesn’t mean you’re coming out ahead on the deal. To pay for the refunds the city legally raised franchise fees years ago, so you’ve actually been paying for your own refund and the attorney fees out of your own pocket.
Still, the timing couldn’t be better for a surprise check in the mailbox than four days before the start of the Christmas shopping season.