By Matthew Power. When the owner of Gunnell Construction found an unmarked underground pipe on a site in Cottonwood, Ariz., he called two water utilities, trying to identify the owner. Both denied ownership. Assuming the pipe was abandoned--and that electrical wires are not run in galvanized pipe--he resumed work. When the pipe was penetrated, an explosion resulted, injuring both Gunnell and a co-worker. As a result, both men sued the electric utility for not properly marking the line. The utility countersued Gunnell for damages to its line. Result: The court found Gunnell liable for damages because he did not find the true owner of the pipe before proceeding. He got nothing--and had to pay the utility's legal fees.

Source: Thelen Reid and Priest LLP