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Price Waicukauski Joven & Catlin Wins $130 Million Verdict for Landowners in Class Action Lawsuit for Trespass Against Telecom Company

On August 28 and 29, a Missouri federal court jury rendered verdicts of $129,211,337 for compensatory damages and $1,300,000 for punitive damages ($130,511,337) in favor of a class of Missouri landowners and against a telecommunications company and its parent company. For more than 12 years the companies used fiber optic cable on almost 800 miles of private property for commercial telecommunications without obtaining proper easements from the landowners.

The $129 million damages award compensates the landowners for trespass on 3,560 parcels of land in Missouri. The award equals $2.44 per foot per year for 796 miles of trespass for 12.6 years, which is the exact amount the landowners requested based on data from fiber optic easements across the country. When the unauthorized use of the fiber optic cables was discovered by the landowners, the defendants, Sho-Me Technologies, LLC and Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative, refused to pay them anything even though they have received hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues from their fiber optic network and paid thousands of dollars to railroads and other parties for similar usage rights.

Ron Waicukauski, lead counsel for the landowners said, “This has been a hard-fought battle to defend landowners’ rights.

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