80.28.230  <<  80.28.240 >>   80.28.250

Recovery of damages by utility company for tampering, unauthorized connections, diversion of services.

(1) A utility may bring a civil action for damages against any person who commits, authorizes, solicits, aids, abets, or attempts to:
(a) Divert, or cause to be diverted, utility services by any means whatsoever;
(b) Make, or cause to be made, any connection or reconnection with property owned or used by the utility to provide utility service without the authorization or consent of the utility;
(c) Prevent any utility meter or other device used in determining the charge for utility services from accurately performing its measuring function by tampering or by any other means;
(d) Tamper with any property owned or used by the utility to provide utility services; or
(e) Use or receive the direct benefit of all or a portion of the utility service with knowledge of, or reason to believe that, the diversion, tampering, or unauthorized connection existed at the time of the use or that the use or receipt was without the authorization or consent of the utility.
(2) In any civil action brought under this section, the utility may recover from the defendant as damages three times the amount of actual damages, if any, plus the cost of the suit and reasonable attorney's fees, plus the costs incurred on account of the bypassing, tampering, or unauthorized reconnection, including but not limited to costs and expenses for investigation, disconnection, reconnection, service calls, and expert witnesses.
(3) Any damages recovered under this section in excess of the actual damages sustained by the utility may be taken into account by the utilities and transportation commission or other applicable rate-making agency in establishing utility rates.
(4) As used in this section:
(a) "Customer" means the person in whose name a utility service is provided;
(b) "Divert" means to change the intended course or path of electricity, gas, or water without the authorization or consent of the utility;
(c) "Person" means any individual, partnership, firm, association, or corporation or government agency;
(d) "Reconnection" means the commencement of utility service to a customer or other person after service has been lawfully disconnected by the utility;
(e) "Tamper" means to rearrange, injure, alter, interfere with, or otherwise prevent from performing the normal or customary function;
(f) "Utility" means any electrical company, gas company, wastewater company, or water company as those terms are defined in RCW 80.04.010, and includes any electrical, gas, system of sewerage, or water system operated by any public agency; and
(g) "Utility service" means the provision of electricity, gas, water, wastewater company services, or any other service or commodity furnished by the utility for compensation.


FindingsPurposeLimitation of chapterEffective date2011 c 214: See notes following RCW 80.04.010.
Severability1989 c 11: See note following RCW 9A.56.220.
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