Jury begins deliberations in AT&T vs. Thiems trial

Amelia Flood Nov. 9, 2010, 10:11am


A Madison County jury began deliberations late Tuesday afternoon in a suit against an Edwardsville construction company brought by AT&T over severed underground cables.

Excavator Bob Boston took the stand as the civil trial against Thiems Construction companies filed by AT&T began its second day.

AT&T is suing Thiems for damages in excess of $250,000.

The jury began its deliberations just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

AT&T claims that Thiems violated Illinois laws governing underground utilities when it failed to recognize the company's lines before digging in front of Lincoln Middle School.

Thiems counters that AT&T did not follow the proper marking procedure as required by law and that it had worked with AT&T staff to make sure the right utilities were marked.

The trial began Monday with jury selection and opening statements.

The trial resumed at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Boston testified under direct examination by the plaintiff's table that he did not see any kind of marking until after he had begun digging and severed the companies utility lines.

After halting work, Boston said he saw faint markings but that they were not the bright fluorescent orange markings that would indicate that live lines were under the ground.

"There were no fresh marks," Boston said.

Boston also testified that the project was overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation and that he had worked with the utilities to prevent problems.

Boston also testified it was not uncommon to find abandoned utility lines while digging.

While defense counsel James Godfrey told jurors that Thiems followed the rules where AT&T did not, his counter part at the plaintiff's table, David Hicks, told jurors the construction company "made our case for us," by admitting to finding markings after the utility lines were severed.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth presides.

David Hicks represents AT&T.

James Godfrey represents Thiems.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-535.

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