Monday, June 20, 2005

Supreme Court Declines Case of Telecom Right-of-Ways Along Railroads

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case concerning whether the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals properly overturned a $140 million class-action settlement between a group of telecom carrier and landowners along railroads.

The main issue in the long-running case involved the rights of landowners along pre-existing railroad, pipeline and utility rights-of-way to receive compensation for new fiber construction. In many cases, courts have found that adjacent landowners own the land under the railroads and other utilities, and that only they can grant rights to fiber optic cable companies.

In the case of Sprint vs. Smith, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's approval of the $140 million class-action settlement. Other telecom carriers involved in the case included MCI WorldCom, Qwest, Level 3 and Williams.

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