The title of this case is Dick, et al. v. Sprint Communications Company, L.P., et al. , No. 3:12-cv-00443-TBR. On this website and in the notice, the people who sued are called the Plaintiffs, and the companies they sued, Sprint and Qwest Communications, are called the Defendants. The court in charge of this case is the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
Beginning in the 1980s, the Defendants or their predecessors buried fiber-optic cable and installed related telecommunications equipment within railroad rights of way across the United States. They did so with the consent of the railroads. The Plaintiffs claim that Defendants were also required to get consent from adjoining landowners before installing Telecommunications Facilities (such as fiber-optic, copper, or coaxial cables for the transmission of voice or data) in the railroad rights of way.
Railroads have differing levels of property rights in connection with the rights of way. The issue in this litigation is whether the railroads have enough rights to permit Defendants to put Telecommunications Facilities in the rights of way without getting permission from owners of land next to or under the rights of way.
Defendants claim the railroads had the right to allow it to install Telecommunications Facilities without the need for further permission from landowners. Defendants deny they did anything wrong.
There has been no trial. Instead, the Plaintiffs and the Defendants agreed to settle this case as a class action to avoid the costs and risks of trial.
In a class action, one or more people, called class representatives, sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. A judge can determine that people who have similar claims are members of a class, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.
The Settlement provides the opportunity for payment to Class Members who file valid claims. In exchange, under the Settlement, Class Members give Defendants an Easement in the railroad right of way. An Easement permits a person to use property for a stated purpose. The Easement given through the Settlement will include the right to install and use Telecommunications Facilities and is described more fully below.
The Settlement Agreement, available on the Settlement Documents page of this website, describes the details about the Settlement.