Opening statements were heard Monday in a Madison County civil trial against an Edwardsville construction company and its excavating arm over allegations they severed AT&T cable lines.

Plaintiff AT&T is seeking damages in excess of $250,000 from Thiems Construction and its trucking company, as well as Thiems' excavating company.

Jury selection kicked off Monday at 9 a.m.

The trial will continue Tuesday with the plaintiff's case.

AT&T claims that while working in front of Lincoln Middle School in Edwardsville, the Thiems defendants violated the Underground Utilities Facilities Damage Prevention Act, cutting cable and other utility lines owned by the plaintiff.

AT&T claims that it had its lines marked.

In his opening statement, defense attorney James Godfrey told jurors that AT&T didn't comply with the law by clearly marking the lines with fluorescent orange paint and that it was now blaming Thiems.

"And now they're saying 'Thiems, it's your fault. You pay us," Godfrey told jurors.

Godfrey cited a meeting prior to the construction where all utility providers were told that they needed to mark their lines or the construction company would consider them abandoned.

The defense attorney also told jurors that AT&T's lines would have needed to have been moved regardless of the damage because they were in the path of a planned storm sewer.

The trial broke for a short recess at 2:30 p.m. and would resume just before 3 p.m. with the first witness in the plaintiff's case.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth presides.

James Godfrey represents the Thiems defendants.

David Hicks represents AT&T.

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

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