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City of Tampa sues Frontier and Verizon for damage to pipes

The suit claims Frontier Communications of America and Verizon Florida caused nearly $100,000 in damages to underground water infrastructure over three years.
Frontier Communications and its predecessor, Verizon Florida, are being sued by the city of Tampa for allegedly causing damage to underground wastewater pipes over three years. Pictured is a Frontier flag outside the Frontier regional office in Tampa Bay in 2016.
Frontier Communications and its predecessor, Verizon Florida, are being sued by the city of Tampa for allegedly causing damage to underground wastewater pipes over three years. Pictured is a Frontier flag outside the Frontier regional office in Tampa Bay in 2016.
Published Feb. 7, 2019

The city of Tampa is suing Frontier Communications of America and Verizon Florida for allegedly causing nearly $100,000 in damages to underground wastewater lines over a three-year period.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the city detailed 37 instances between 2015 and 2018 when cable and phone provider Frontier and its predecessor, Verizon, allegedly damaged wastewater pipes while installing fiber optic lines throughout the city. The lines provide faster cable TV and phone service.

"Verizon would accidentally cause damage to existing infrastructure of the city of Tampa, most often portions of the infrastructure" belonging to the city's water, wastewater and storm water departments, the complaint said.

Frontier bought Verizon's communication network in 2016.

In one such incident detailed in a 2016 city invoice, a manhole was overflowing with water, drawing the attention of Tampa's wastewater department. The team that responded to the incident determined that the leak was coming from a hole in a wastewater pipe bored by Verizon. Repairs totaled $1,755.95.

"The city of Tampa made demand for Verizon to reimburse it for damage to city of Tampa property, and Verizon has failed to do so," the complaint said.

Individual incidents ranged from just under $600 to more than $7,000.

Tampa is seeking reimbursement for the $98,752.09 it paid for parts and labor to fix the damage it says Frontier and Verizon caused.

But Frontier is ready to put up a fight.

"Many of these claims are against the previous operator before Frontier acquired its Florida property," Bob Elek, director of public relations for Frontier said in an email. "We've turned the matter over to our insurance company for investigation, will defend ourselves vigorously and will not comment on pending litigation."

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or 727-892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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