I-TEAM: Lawsuit claims Springfield City Council never saw coal report

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Springfield, Ill (WAND) – A lawsuit filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court contends the Springfield City Council was left in the dark when it agreed to a coal contract for City, Water, Light and Power.

The suit, filed by attorney Frederick W. Nessler on behalf of two CWLP customers, contends the council was never given a copy of a 2015 coal procurement report.  The so-called “Ely report” took a position that Springfield was paying inflated costs for coal used by CWLP a municipal utility.  The report stated the city could have obtained cheaper coal through the bidding process.  Coal is purchased from the Viper Mine in Elkhart.  The mine is owned by Arch Coal, Inc.

The suit goes on to allege the cities current coal contract is costing taxpayers and electric users an additional $5 million a year.  Over the life of the contract the additional cost is estimated at more than $20 million.

“Why on earth would the city council not be privy to documents that could have saved the city, who they represent, millions of dollars,” Nessler told I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe.  “The price of coal was substantially higher than other bids which might be procured.”

The Ely report was sent to the cities corporation counsel and the mayor.  Both have been named as defendants in the suit.  Although the report is a public document it was marked as attorney-client privilege and never shown to the council according to Nessler.

“It was marked attorney-client privilege which is mysterious to me why it would be marked that way,” Nessler stated.

A cover letter from Foresight Coal, which offered a competing bid, offered to help financially with the operations of CWLP’s Dallman power plant.  It’s believed council members never saw the cover letter.

Nessler has won substantial awards for his clients including a lawsuit against GM and numerous clergy abuse cases.  He feels this case could be among his biggest.  Nessler expects litigation of the case to be long term.

The case number is:  2017-MR-001027 filed on November 29, 2017.

(Pictured: CWLP plant on November 30, 2017)

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