AT&T pierced company's plumbing, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Jul. 20, 2010, 1:45am

A Collinsville corporation alleges it was forced to pay more than $11,000 in sewer repair costs after a telephone company drilled through its plumbing.

Piasa Commercial Interiors claims it was forced to hire three different plumbing companies between September 2005 through June 2009 to investigate the cause of its periodic sewer stoppage problems.

According to the complaint filed July 12 in Madison County Circuit Court, R & M Sewer Service finally excavated the area around the sewer line in June 2009 to discover the cause of the backups.

"After the initial excavation revealed the sewer line, Plaintiff was able to see, for the first time, that an underground telephone/communications line had been drilled into, and placed through, Plaintiff's sewer line," the suit states. "Once the sewer line was excavated, Plaintiff could see that the underground telephone/communications line had pierced, and was penetrating the sewer line. The sewer line was broken during the excavation process, causing sewage to leak into the surrounding area."

After finding the cause of the sewer problems, Piasa contacted AT&T, and an employee there instructed the company to repair the damage, the complaint says. Piasa claims AT&T promised to reimburse it for the damage as long as it sent a bill.

To fix the line, Piasa spent $11,402, plus more than 80 hours of employee time at $25 per hour, according to the complaint. In addition, its property has suffered a reduction of its market value by at least $50,000, the complaint says.

Following the work, Piasa sent AT&T a bill for the repairs, but the telephone company has since refused to pay for the costs, the suit states.

Piasa alleges breach of contract and fraud against AT&T.

It also alleges negligence against defendants David Dixon and Berco Construction, saying they failed to check for sewer lines before performing drilling work, drilled into the underground line and placed an underground telephone line through the hole drilled in Piasa's underground sewer line.

In addition to the $63,042 it says the defendants owe it, Piasa is seeking court costs.

David M. Duree of David M. Duree and Associates in O'Fallon will be representing it.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-730.

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