Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 23, 2013

AT&T sues CSX over damaged cable

Suit seeks more than $75,000 for alleged incident

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — AT&T is suing CSX Transportation Inc. in federal court over the railroad allegedly damaging one of the communications giant’s fiber optic cables in Boyd County.

The suit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Ashland, seeks more than $75,000 for an incident AT&T alleges occurred on Aug. 17, 2011.

According to the suit, AT&T maintains aerial cables within CSX’s right of way, by virtue of an agreement between the two companies dated May 1, 1986. On the date in question, AT&T claims it received an internal alarm notification indicating its service had been interrupted.

In response, AT&T dispatched its service employees, who found the interruption was the result of a severed aerial cable in the 400 block of Iowa Street, the suit states.

AT&T alleges CSX caused the damage to the aerial cable while clearing brush from the right of way.

“As a direct result of CSX’s actions and/or omissions, AT&T sustained significant damage to its property located on CSX’s right of way,” the suit states.

AT&T also maintains CSX has refused to accept liability for damaging the cable, despite agreeing to assume liability for such damages under the 1986 compact.

“To date, CSX has not reimbursed AT&T for the cost of temporary repairs of the aerial cable and CSX has refused to accept responsibility for causing the damage,” the suit states. “Thus, CSX is in breach of its contractual agreement to assume responsibility for damage arising from the destruction of AT&T’s property.”

The suit also alleges CSX breached the “duty of ordinary care” it owed to AT&T by failing to properly supervise and inspect the removal of debris and cutting of trees from the right of way that caused the damage to the cable; by failing to hire “competent” employees and subcontractors to remove the trees and debris; by failing to take all steps necessary to prevent hazardous conditions and by failing to act as a “reasonably prudent person” would under the same or similar circumstances.

Claims made in civil lawsuits state only one side of an issue.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.