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Published August 04, 2011, 10:21 AM

Landowners past, present may be eligible in railroad right of way case

FARGO, N.D. - Class Counsel in Nudell v. Sprint Communications, No. 3:01-cv-041, announced that preliminary approval of a Proposed Settlement was granted by the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota.

FARGO, N.D. - Class Counsel in Nudell v. Sprint Communications, No. 3:01-cv-041, announced that preliminary approval of a Proposed Settlement was granted by the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota. The lawsuit involves fiber-optic cable and related telecommunications equipment that has been installed in railroad Rights of Way. Persons who own or owned land next to or under railroad Rights of Way in North Dakota may be eligible to receive benefits.

Sprint Communications, the Defendant, is a telecommunications company. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Sprint or its predecessors buried fiber-optic cable and installed related telecommunications equipment within railroad Rights of Way in North Dakota. A railroad Right of Way is a strip of land on which a railroad company builds and operates a railroad. The Defendant entered into agreements with the railroads that own and occupy the Rights of Way, and under those agreements paid the railroads for the rights to install the fiber optic cable and related telecommunications equipment within the Rights of Way.

Plaintiffs allege that, before installing the fiber-optic cable and related telecommunications equipment, the Defendant also was required to obtain consent from those landowners who owned the land under the Rights of Way. The Defendant contends that the railroads had the right to allow them to use the Rights of Way without the need for further permission from the adjoining landowners and deny any wrongdoing.

Class Members include current or previous owners of land next to or under a railroad Right of Way, at any time since the cable was installed, in the following counties: Barnes, Billings, Burleigh, Cass, Golden Valley, Kidder, Morton, Stark, and Stutsman. Class members can find out when fiber-optic cable was installed in a particular Right of Way by visiting www.NorthDakotaFiberSettlement.com or calling 1-877-865-5287. Class members will have an opportunity to claim cash benefits if the Court approves the Proposed Settlement.

The Proposed Settlement will provide cash payments to qualifying class members based on various factors that include:

• the length of the Right of Way where the cable is installed,

• the length of time they owned the property,

• how the railroad got its property rights, and

• how many people co-own the property.

The Proposed Settlement will also provide the Defendant with a permanent Telecommunications Easement, which gives them the right to use the railroad Rights of Way for their fiber-optic cable and related telecommunications equipment, if they don’t already have that right.

For more information regarding the Class Action visit www.NorthDakotaFiberSettlement.com or call 1-877-865-5287.

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