Jury finds for defense in AT&T vs. Thiems case

Amelia Flood Nov. 10, 2010, 5:00am


Thiems Construction Inc. of Edwardsville has won a case brought against it by AT&T over cable lines Thiems' workers severed four years ago while working in front of an Edwardsville middle school.

A Madison County jury found for Thiems after nearly three hours of deliberations Tuesday night.

AT&T had sought damages in excess of $250,000 from Thiems, claiming its excavators violated laws governing underground utilities.

Thiems countered that AT&T did not properly mark its lines despite notice and constant communication between Thiems staff and AT&T employees.

The jury began its deliberations just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday night and returned around 6:30 p.m.

The two-day trial saw the testimony of the Thiems' excavator whose work severed the lines as well as testimony from the Illinois Department of Transportation official who oversaw the road work in front of Lincoln Middle School when the event happened in June 2006.

In his closing argument, defense attorney James Godfrey pointed to faded markings and told jurors that AT&T knew to mark its live lines with bright orange and that the company did not follow rules that had been agreed to before the project started.

Plaintiff's counsel David Hicks showed jurors photos of a white marking that was at the site that his client contended complied with the law.

Hicks said the defense had "made our case for us."

The trial began Monday.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth presided.

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

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