July 1, 2016
6.5 Million Dollars Awarded to Rural Missouri Land Owners
After nearly a decade, 4,070 rural Missouri landowners will receive payments from a class action settlement against KAMO Electric Cooperative. On June 30, 2015 a federal court granted final approval of a $6.5 million settlement fund to pay landowners’ claims against KAMO Electric Cooperative. Payments are now being distributed to class members.
KAMO Electric Cooperative, Inc. and its subsidiary, K-PowerNet, LLC unlawfully used electric-transmission lines for commercial communication on privately owned land throughout Missouri.
Fred O’Neill, contributing attorney for this case stated the following:
“Most easements contained no language for use other than “electric purposes”. When I realized nonprofit electric businesses were forming for-profit telecommunication companies, I assumed landowners were entitled to compensation.
I knew that it would take experienced counsel willing to invest a lot of time and money to right the wrong. I also knew I could not do this case on my own, so I searched for help. That’s how I came to call upon Henry Price, Ron Waicukauski, Kathleen Kauffman, and Heidi Vollet.
This has been like David and Goliath. I am pleased to be part of the land owners getting paid for what they should have. What makes me even happier is the electric transmission companies are now paying for communication rights in new acquisitions and upgrades for which landowners probably would have never been paid.”
In November of 2006, KAMO Electric Cooperative started installing electric-transmission lines with fiber-optic cables then used them for commercial telecommunications. The class action settlement entitles Missouri land owners affected to settlement compensation.
Heidi Vollet, contributing counsel for the Class Members stated after the settlement:
“It took courage on behalf of our clients to speak up in favor of their property rights. I also applaud KAMO for agreeing to a fair settlement to compensate landowners and obtain proper easements after the district court found KAMO did not have the right to use private property for commercial telecommunications in some instances.”
Class action settlement members were represented in this case by a team of lawyers including Fred O’Neill of Perkins & O’Neill, LLC, Heidi Vollet of Cook, Vetter, Doerhoff & Landwehr, P.C, Ron Waicukauski, Brad Catlin and Henry Price of Price Waicukauski Joven & Catlin, LLC, and Kathleen Kauffman of Ackerson Kauffman Fex. For more information about this settlement, visit http://www.missourifibersettlement.com/.