published Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Plumbers file suit against WWTA

The local Roto-Rooter plumbing company has filed suit in federal court charging the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority with price-fixing, defamation and violation of due process, an attorney said.

WRCB-TV Channel 3 reported Wednesday night the lawsuit claims that local plumbers are losing business and the WWTA hasn’t paid plumbers the amount promised under the authority’s private service lateral program to test and repair sewer lines.

Chattanooga attorney Jerry Tidwell, who represents Roto-Rooter, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press Wednesday night the suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

“The real focus is price-fixing,” Tidwell told the Times Free Press. “Since the [lateral repair program] has begun, Roto-Rooter has had an extraordinary drop in service calls and income. I think the system is the cause.”

WWTA board members could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The WWTA has a goal of testing and repairing 300 lateral lines — those leading from the main sewers to homes and businesses — each month. The authority has recruited plumbers to perform the work for lower cost, but other plumbing companies have said the county program hurts their business.

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