A couple in Warrington, Pa., filed a lawsuit against Verizon alleging that the telco’s technicians started a fire while installing a FiOS fiber-optic line at their apartment, destroying $58,000 worth of their belongings.
According to the suit, reported Monday by suburban Philadelphia newspaper The Intelligencer, Verizon workers on Sept. 6 hit an electric utility line while drilling through the front wall of the couple’s apartment duplex.
The couple – Daniel Wood and Dawn Sammler, who have a 2-month-old baby – claimed Verizon representatives said the company would pay for temporary housing and also to replace the things they lost in the fire.
Verizon paid for them to stay in hotel rooms, according to the couple’s attorney, Andrew D. Cotlar. But he said the company offered them only $1,800 for their destroyed property and since then has not responded to Wood and Sammler’s inquiries. “I’m appalled by the way Verizon has treated a young family of limited means,” Cotlar told Multichannel News.
Verizon spokeswoman Sharon Shaffer denied that the telco offered “only $1,800” as Cotlar claimed.
“We have paid the couple that amount as an advance to cover some of their initial expenses, and we are attempting to negotiate an agreement to cover the remainder of their loss,” Shaffer wrote in an email message. “Meanwhile, we are providing temporary housing for the couple at a nearby suite hotel while their landlord is renovating their rental apartment. Nonetheless, the couple involved in this case has decided to sue Verizon.”
She added, “The reality is that anytime you drill into a wall, there is a risk of hitting hidden wires. Our technicians take precautions to avoid such accidents, of course, but occasionally they happen anyhow. We regret it when they do occur, and we do everything possible to resolve resulting issues fairly for all concerned.”
The complaint was filed Oct. 23 with the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in Doylestown, Pa. Cotlar said Verizon was served with the suit Nov. 1.
In September, Associated Press reporter John Wilen wrote an account of Verizon FiOS installers in suburban Philadelphia drilling into an electrical wire at his home and nearly causing a fire. “That knocked the power out and left our electrical box – and the front of the house – smoking,” Wilen’s story said.
Wilen noted that Verizon’s insurance company cut a $2,650 check for the necessary repairs “within days.”
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