Madison County residents George and Ruth Schillinger filed a class action lawsuit on Feb. 18 against a Canadian fiber optices network company, 360 Networks of Vancouver, British Columbia, for trespassing.

The Schillingers, who filed on the day President Bush signed the Class Action Fairness Act into law, allege that the Canadian business chose to forego time-consuming negotiations with the Schillinger’s and other class members. Instead, 360 Networks entered into quick agreements with other companies, such as railroad, pipeline, energy and other utility companies, and paid them millions to construct its fiber optic network.

According to the complaint, the company installed thousands of miles of telecommunication conduits or fiber optic cable throughout the United States, including Illinois, in land subject to right-of-way easements.

Potential class members consist of more than 1,000 current and former owners of the right-of-way land throughout the United States.

The Schillingers and class members are seeking a declaration that 360 Networks has no legal rights to exercise dominion and control over their right-of-way land.

The plaintiffs and the class allege they have suffered actual damages resulting from 360 Networks' trespassing, in an amount to be proven at trial, plus punitive damages for fraud, malice, intentional, willful or wanton conduct and reckless disregard of their rights.

The class will be represented by Mark Goldenberg and Elizabeth Heller of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli of Edwardsville and John Massopust and Daniel Millea of Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette of Minneapolis along with firms from Washington DC, Indianapolis and Waltham, Mass.

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