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Power Company Accused of Stymieing Discovery

DALLAS (CN) - A disabled man who says he developed heat exhaustion because First Choice Power arbitrarily cut his electricity wants a judge to compel discovery.

Randy Rhodes, of Stephenville, sued the Direct Energy subsidiary in March in Dallas County Court, alleging that it cut his power on June 2, 2010, leaving the wheelchair-bound man without air conditioning during the hot Texas summer. He says he promptly paid his monthly bills and that he disputed overdue past charges that First Choice generated. Rhodes says his son found him on the ground in his backyard the next day.

"Rhodes was suffering from severe hydration and had an altered mental state," the nine-page complaint states. "The following day, Mr. Rhodes was transported to the hospital where he was treated for his continuing severe hydration, acute renal failure, and severe rhabdomyloysis, all of which was a result of the heat exhaustion he suffered."

First Choice eventually realized the past-due charges were not the responsibility of Rhodes and restored his power at no additional cost, according to the complaint.

Claiming that the company has failed to respond to discovery production in the lawsuit, Arlington attorney M. Kevin Queenan filed a motion to compel on Nov. 1.

"Defendant failed to adequately respond to to plaintiff's request for production and made unfounded and and specious objections," the 5-page motion states.

First Power gave 20 specific objections and inadequate responses that are "unfounded" and not supported by law or civil procedure, Queenan wrote.

After twice ignoring requests to withdraw its objections, First Choice filed amended responses that again maintain "unfounded and specious" objections and failed to adequately respond to production requests, according to the motion.

District Judge Carl Ginsberg of Dallas will decide the issue.

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