Tampa sues Frontier over damaged sewer lines

The city of Tampa has filed a lawsuit against its cable company.

The city says when Frontier workers dig to lay fiber lines, they are accidentally damaging city sewers.

The city says it's happened 37 times since January of 2015 - and it's costing Tampa taxpayers a lot to make repairs.

"Most contractors own up to it, they pay us to fix it," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "The fact that this had to go on this long is disappointing."

A fix at Waverly and MacDill cost $576. 

One at Horatio and Lincoln cost $623. 

Another at Corona and Lois cost $2,038. 

Several repairs cost more than $7,000 each. 

The grand total: $98,732.

Taxpayers have not been reimbursed.

"Like a kid walking into a store, you break it, you own it," said Buckhorn.

It's an even bigger burden for the city's century-old sewer system. Crews are already fixing between five and 20 breaks a day, says the mayor. 

"It is hard enough for us to stay ahead of the natural erosion of these pipes, let alone when you have irresponsible contractors," he explained.

Frontier released a statement saying: “Many of these claims appear to be originally against Verizon before we acquired its Florida property. As to the claims since that time, we’ve turned the matter over to our insurance company for investigation." 

About 20 of the breaks, more than half, happened after Frontier bought Verizon in April 2016.

"That's a pretty lame excuse," said Mayor Buckhorn. "Usually when you buy a company like that, you assume the assets and liabilities."

The mayor says the accidental breaks may stem from contractor error, outdated information on where pipes are supposed to be, or map information that isn't followed properly. Frontier said it generally doesn't comment on pending litigation.