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Women Sue SoCal Edison for $140,000 Bill Generated by Pot Growing Operation in Corona Rental

The agency apparently cut off their electricity when they refused to pay a massive bill allegedly generated by a tenant in their Corona home-- a tenant that is accused of using the power to help grow marijuana.

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Two Rowland Heights women sued Southern California Edison Wednesday for cutting off their electricity over their refusal to pay a nearly $140,000 bill that they allege was generated by a tenant growing marijuana in a home the family owned and leased in Corona.

Shu Chih Sun and her daughter-in-law, Mitha Pratiwi, are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on allegations of breach of service agreement and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

They also sought -- but were denied -- a temporary restraining order that would have directed Edison to return power to the home. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O'Brien set a March 12 hearing on the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction, according to attorney Michael Lo, who is representing the two women.

"Hopefully the court will see it our way," Lo said.

An Edison representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two women live in Rowland Heights with Pratiwi's husband and the couple's 5-month-old daughter, Lo said. The Trot Avenue house is currently being served by a generator that provides enough power for lights, but not for heating and refrigeration, according to Lo.

"It's kind of depressing," Lo said.

According to the complaint, Pratiwi's husband signed an agreement with tenant Dominic Do to lease the couple's home in Corona from February 2009 until October 2011. Do stayed on a month-to-month basis after the lease expired and was arrested for illegally growing marijuana there last March, the suit alleges.

Although the Edison service at the Corona property was under Pratiwi's name, Do was required to pay the bills, according to the suit.     Last April 11, Pratiwi received a bill from Edison for $138,577 for "unauthorized use of service from March 21, 2010, to March 20, 2013," according to the plaintiffs.

Pratiwi and her husband cooperated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and her spouse identified Do from a photo lineup, according to the suit. An investigation found that Do, who was using the name Raymond Lam, grew marijuana on the Corona property by bypassing the Edison meter, the suit alleges.

In November, Pratiwi received a demand for payment from Edison under threat of a disconnection of electricity. Sun received a similar notice in January, according to the suit, which says the electricity was  turned off on Feb. 6.


– City News Service. 

Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 03:19 AM
@Maryjane. The rented out house in Corona is miles from their home in Roland Heights in Los Angeles county. It is not common for persons that rent out a house or so to go inside for regular inspections. They do have a legal right to do so with a proper notice in advance. Many tenants feel their right to privacy is being invaded, and they have to clean house and scrub everything in advance. ....... Some owners feel OK with their renter if they get their check on time every month and drive by occasionally and the house and yard look ok from the street.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 03:27 AM
It is more likely the renter did use the metered electricity for normal use and only used the bypassed electricity for the lights for the pot plants. Otherwise this would not have gone on for three years. ................... The article does not state whether the monthly bill although in Patiwi's name was sent to the address of the rented house and the renter paid it, or was mailed to the Patiwi house, and they billed the renter, to include that with the monthly rental check.
Steve February 21, 2014 at 03:30 AM
Yes that's right about tenants, they could have unruly kids that are thrashing the place. Periodic inspections are a good idea.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 03:33 AM
Notice the electricity company has shut off the electricity at the owners home in Los Angeles County for the bill incurred at the rented house in Riverside County. Or maybe Edison is OK with providing it to the new renter or new owner in Corona.
Steve February 21, 2014 at 03:51 AM
They didn't play fair so Edison didn't play fair, Edison has the stronger wallet.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 03:57 AM
SOCAL EDISON PROBABLY BILLED AT THE PENALTY TIER FOUR RATE OVER 30 CENTS PER KwH. The normal rate household rate for tier one and two is about 14 cents per KwH. ........ The cost of buying or generating electricity to a utility is very low during night time hours, I am guessing 5 or 6 cents per KwH. I know it used to be a lot lower than that. So the "out of pocket operating loss" to the Utility is probably closer to $20,000 to $24,000. the rest is only a paper loss. That is my opinion anyhow.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 04:03 AM
In many cases the electric companies have master area meters over each branch serving a number of home and/or businesses. ....... If the sum total of individual meter readings do not add up to the master area meter reading the electric company knows someone is stealing electricity or else there is a power leak.
Steve February 21, 2014 at 04:07 AM
That's why I wonder if they (Edison) were letting them hang themselves getting in so deep to make an example out of them.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 04:19 AM
THERE ARE TWO LEGAL ISSUES HERE. ONE IS CAN EDISON SHUT OF THE POWER TO THE FAMILY HOUSE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY OVER THE DISPUTED BILL. ....... In this case there is NO reason for the electric company to believe there will not be paid for all electricity provided to the home in Los Angeles County. ................................ The court date is set for March 12th asking for a court order to the electric company to turn the power back on there. ....... This injunction should be ordered regardless of whether or not the family will be required to pay the puffed up bill or make a settlement, or is cleared from all responsibility to pay the puffed up bill for stolen electricity from the rented house.
Steve February 21, 2014 at 04:34 AM
Someone's gonna have to do a chapter 13 unless this was a calculated scam that is able to skate around the law.
southernbelle February 21, 2014 at 11:33 AM
my theory: the entire house had to have been a grove, filled with plants and lights to accommodate the crop. (What's the water bill look like???) These people KNEW what was going on-profited themselves (only a complete idiot would never check their rental- they lived in same city). ILLEGALLY grown pot- isn't property supposed to be confiscated-I thought there was a law? Confiscate the house, sell it-- due monies go to Edison. Secondly, if my water bill peaks even slightly the Water company is knocking on my door asking questions. Why was no one at Edison asking questions??? How can a bill go unpaid for 3 yrs?? I got to look back and read if anyone's posted laws--I'd be interested in learning more.
southernbelle February 21, 2014 at 11:53 AM
@ChrisG--you know I love ya, but… the article reads: " Last April 11, Pratiwi received a bill from Edison for $138,577 for "unauthorized use of service from March 21, 2010, to March 20, 2013," according to the plaintiffs." @myself-- the tenant lived in Corona in the leased home, the Women being charged by Edison lived in Rowland Heights. Got it. ;o) idea: "irresponsible owner law" Owners should have a responsibility to insure the home is safe and legal for every renter, but also save and legals FROM every renter. And whoever shared the story about the pot grower burning down rental house--that is so out of line!! You're right, there should be some sort of renter insurance that a RENTER must pay monthly that covers any damages done. The insurance companies would have a darn good screening process, and every rentER would have to be abiding by specific and legal renting laws. GOne would be the days of squatters. Had a friend who it took 2 yrs to get his free-loading renters out, then they thrashed the home! people suck.
Alek J Hidell February 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Absentee landlords take this risk. These foreigners allowed criminals to use their property. They are solely responsible for whatever happens there. I was a landlord for 8 years and its a very hard job. These foreigners made a critical mistake and should pay for it. If they don't? WE pay for it.
southernbelle February 21, 2014 at 01:07 PM
I actually meant to ask that also, Alek- curious if the owner and the renter are legal citizens? I'd be curious to know.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 06:00 PM
Millions of Chinese are born American Citizens. Many are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th born generation citizens. Many are descended from Chinese that came here before California was even a state.
Serious Sam February 21, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Alek mocks the sound of Chinese language. It does sound different because Chinese is a tonal language. The same word has different meaning depending on whether the tone is higher at the front, or the end of each word, or neither.
Joseph Morabito February 21, 2014 at 06:20 PM
Sam, I get it that you are serious and all, but Alek is nothing more than a troll... Even when he appears to be legit, his zinger comments are but a click away. Take him "seriously" at your own peril.
Alek J Hidell February 21, 2014 at 06:25 PM
thanks for the lesson in linguistics, Sam. Gweilo! And Morabilito pito, your comments are "seriously" boring...
Joseph Morabito February 21, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Thank you... that's what I was aiming for.
Alek J Hidell February 21, 2014 at 06:41 PM
I forgot to add long-winded and pretentious, sorry.
Joseph Morabito February 21, 2014 at 06:48 PM
Damn... you pegged me like no other... in the meantime, on another thread, I just had to give you props for four consecutive takes that were bang on.
ChrisG February 22, 2014 at 12:42 AM
@belle, right, I read the dates wrong but $3800 a month is BS for back paid electric. I'd like to see what fines were levied by the power company because there is no way anyone home would use that much power. They are owed their due for sure but lets be realistic. Take the average monthly use over the last three years, add 5% and call it good.
southernbelle February 22, 2014 at 01:29 AM
Two things-first I think utilities work on a tier system don't they? The more you use, the higher priced tier you pay. Also, maybe the women owned a business and the electric bill was under the business name (tax write-offs)--just guessing since no particulars were given. Moreso, think about 24/7, 365 days of 2000 Sq ft of pot plants (set from average track home), and it wouldn't be 40-60 watt bulbs like you and I use. I have no clue what it might cost…but the electric company shouldn't eat the dues just because some criminals didn't figure out what the electric would cost to grow their pot plants. I'm sticking with confiscating the home, selling it to pay off bill, and rest goes to state drug programs.
ChrisG February 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM
@belle, I agree SCE should be paid for the electricity used. I just want to know how they come up with that. This seems excessive to me.
southernbelle February 22, 2014 at 10:24 PM
alright Chris--I respect your questions. We'll have to wait till MArch 12 to hear more.
brendables February 24, 2014 at 05:34 AM
SCE has gotten out of hand! If the owners didn't know about the pot growing, why should they have to suffer the long arm of SCE..don;t you think the charge of $138,000 is a bit much? The way I read it it isn't for electricity used it's for "misuse" of their service.
brendables February 24, 2014 at 05:38 AM
Souterbelle, SCE doesn't get off their duff to go to anyone's house anymore....I paid approximately $8000.00 to them in the past 13 months! I live in a mobile home, when I asked them to please send someone out to check my meter, they said "it seems to be running correctly" as they checked it from their office. I then asked how to read the meter and was put on eternal hold!!!Now they won't even talk to me!
Alek J Hidell February 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Using that logic, the owners of rented out crackhouses are not responsible. They can just say "duh, we didn't know"... No Brenda, you own a house, its still your house, you are responsible---you want to make money renting out to strangers?--better know who they are. Oh and its smarter to put the electric in TENANT's name.. Those fools!
Alek J Hidell February 24, 2014 at 10:27 AM
Using that logic, the owners of crackhouses can just ignore what happens there. No, if you own a house, you are responsible for what goes on there. Better know who you rent to , if you want to make money off that house. and its a lot smarter to put the electric in the TENANTS name! those fools! Pay up. and if I was a neighbor I wouldnt like that generator, all that noise and fumes, Shut it off.
southernbelle February 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM
^^agree--as an owner YOU are responsible. What you're suggesting Brenda is much like if a business offers endless amounts of alcohol to someone, that someone runs over and kills another run their parking lot--then saying it is not the responsibility of the business owner to administer responsible goods to their patrons, nor monitor or have ANY CLUE whatsoever, what any of their patrons are doing inside the establishment. Um…if you paid over $8000 in a mobile home over the span of 13 months---you aren't very bright with your money. The very first month you should've been knocking down the door at SCE, and raising hell to a very loud level. It's foolish to just keep paying and not demand better service. SCE showed up one morning on my front lawn, started spray painting an orange line about 4 ft in from the street. Never knocked, never gave me notice… I went outside and asked what was happening. They told me our neighbors were having trouble and the line was best accessed from MY front lawn! They thought they were going to dig a damn trench the entire length of my lawn!! I looked at these ol' boys (all about 250 +lbs, bearded, tattoo'd, etc) and said just one thing, "OH HELL nooo!" That's about all a man needs to hear from a southern woman to know he best have a plan B, because his plan A ain't EVEN going to happen!! I wrestled with SCE for over 2 weeks, they'd show up, I'd walk out. They'd call, I'd say NO! I won. They ended up digging up the street PAR had to come fix some things, they ended up digging in THE neighbors yard who had the problem (ruined their lawn instead of mine!) and that was that. Btw, from the first time I stated my "Oh Hell No," with feet planted firmly, hands on hips, eyes looking straight at the foreman---I had their respect. hahahaha--I still remember as I said it to the foreman in the corner of my eye the worker who had already started digging, stuck his shovel right back in the dug up dirt, without a second guess, and just started piling it right back in the hole he'd made! hahahahahahahahaha you should a seen the look on that kids face!! hahahahhaahaha

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