Contractor cut electric and main phone trunk -Whose fault?

My space was a karate studio so it had a limited buildout. When cutting the floors in the kitchen, the plumbers cut through 3 electric conduits and the main phone trunk for the building. Luckily, the electric was only the house panel (servicing the alarm system and a few lights) and can be repaired. The phone wire, however, was a main line (100 pairs I think). It disrupted service to the other tenant today (a bar and grill). SBC came and spliced it but may want to replace the entire trunk - 270’!

Here’s the rub - there were no as-builts and the conduit was literally 2" from the finished floor. There is no code requiring it to be deeper. But, as my contractor stated, it is inexplicable why they would not bury it, at least, at or below the gravel level. Theoretically, they could have done a locate, but I’m confident that’s not an industry standard in tenant finish. Plus, locates do not tell you depth.

Now I’m afraid I’m gonna get a fat bill from SBC for the new phone wire and have the contractor pointing at me and the LL pointing at the contractor. What do you guys think?

Re: Contractor cut electric and main phone trunk -Whose faul

1st you better call your “liability” insurer (and fax a copy of the the report as well) and let them know…This is to protect you…Most policies will have a reporting clause and if you fail to report it they may later deny coverage for prejudicing their ability to investigate…The reason for the fax is to prove you reported it to your broker should they decide not to let your insurer know…

On the surface it sound like the contractor is negligent and their liability insurance should also be put on notice…However, with such a limited amount of information once the “rest of the story” is know, this could change…

Was their a written contract?..
If so, was there any mention of the conduit?
If so, if was there any mention of transfer of liability?

My gut (13 years and an insurance) adjuster says the plumber should know what he is cutting into and if it is the “deep abyss” he takes his chances if he is wrong…If there were plans and the plans were wrong he might be able to escape some or all of the liability…

Re: Contractor cut electric and main phone trunk -Whose faul

Sounds like a mess to me. Had a similar situation happen with phone lines but our contractor just repaired it themselves. Was an easy fix, but now that you have SBC involved I don’t know. Talk to your landlord too but I have a feeling this in going to fall on your lap – right or wrong.

Re: Contractor cut electric and main phone trunk -Whose faul

This 100 pair line was running through (under) your shop?

That in itself doesn’t make any sense, those lines are normally run to a box outside the building, coming from the outside. I’ve never seen one running under a building like that.

I’d only worry about calling the locator guys if I was digging OUTSIDE. I’ve never heard of doing a locate when digging inside. I think you are in the clear, but hey, I could be wrong.