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Palmer v. Columbia Gas of Ohio, 342 F. Supp. 241 (N.D. Ohio 1972) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

A class action suit was filed against a Toledo natural gas supplier charging that the company violated consumers' constitutional rights of due process because it cut off gas service arbitrarily. Many customers, including some who had paid their bills, were out off with no warning. The company used a computerized billing system. Whenever readings were not taken at the consumers' gas meters, the computer would estimate usage, usually below actual usage. Thereafter, when actual readings were taken, consumers would receive cumulative bills that were so high that some of them, particularly low income customers, could not pay.[1]

District Court Proceedings[]

In ordering new billing and termination regulations, the district court castigated the company, noting that "[t]he evidence as a whole revealed a rather shockingly callous and impersonal attitude upon the part of the defendant, which relied uncritically upon its computer, located in a distant city. . . ."[2]


  1. Id. at 242-43.
  2. Id. at 243.