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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Utility Line Buried on Property Without Easement

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Montana
    Facts: Highway adjacent to our property widened in 2006. Dept. of Transportation purchased some of our land. Telephone with Qwest was moved to highway right of way.

    May 2010: Called for a locate to dig fencepost holes to separate pasture. Gas line (only utility) located. Project started.
    Sept. 2010: Project continued. Hit buried telephone cable on my property. Company sent us a bill for $7,300+ for damages. This cable is buried under our property without our permission or easement.
    Oct. 2010: Called for specific locate of phone cable. Told by 2 locators no phone cable on property. Insisted; they marked it- -a section is clearly on our property.

    We initiated contact to resolve this matter and have made no progress in 8 months. Claims dept. is a sub-contractor. Engineer said he would give matter to right-of-way agent 3 months ago; no response. We feel strongly we are not liable for these damages and want this cable moved. We have hit dead ends on all contacts. Should we hire an attorney? Can someone tell us how to locate people who have the power to resolve the situation? We have been pressured by the claims dept. to file this with our homeowners' insurance; we resisted because we are not at fault. All suggestions welcome to end this hassle!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,376

    Default Re: Utility Line Buried on Property Without Easement

    For starters, if Qwest is part of your state one-call locate system, they have no claim because you called but the line failed to be located. Locating the line on your proerty without an easement is a trespass.

    If you want to have the line removed from your property, an attorney is probably your best bet, starting with a letter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    10,086

    Default Re: Utility Line Buried on Property Without Easement

    I think you misunderstood him. You don't have to tell the one-call what you are looking for, just where you intend to excavate. My reading is that they failed to locate the telephone line on the first visit. He called after he hit the line and they again denied it was there until he pushed the issue. I've had exactly the same thing happen to me. He shouldn't be responsible for the cable damage.

    I assume this is cable other than that necessary to server your own buildings...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,376

    Default Re: Utility Line Buried on Property Without Easement

    Oh, I think I understood him. I have been using one call systems for over 30 years.

    The one call system didn't show any Qwest lines on his property, so they didn't investigate. The subcontractor Qwest used didn't get it installed in the road right of way but probably said they did, and that's where it shows up on the GIS, if it shows up at all. It's Qwest's problem now because they did not have the correct information for one call. Only the gas company had the right info filed with one call.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Utility Line Buried on Property Without Easement

    So many valid points; we can't thank you enough! We were just told today that our original locate permit had expired after 30 days so we are still liable. I have carefully read the Montana statute and it doesn't say that anywhere. We think they (the sub-contractor handling the claim) are trying to pressure us to file this with our insurance; we plan to fight because we know we are right. If we had been at fault, we would have paid the bill immediately. One more question: do we have any right to charge Qwest retroactively for the six years this line has been buried on our property? Again, thanks so very much for the insight- - very valuable!

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