Lawsuit filed in 2014 collapse of North Adams communications towers


NORTH ADAMS — The owner of two Florida Mountain communications towers that collapsed in 2014 is suing Verizon for nearly $500,000.

North Adams Tower Company alleges that upgrades Verizon made to equipment it owns on one of the towers caused it to collapse and take with it a second tower on March 29, 2014. The first tower to collapse was 160 feet tall.

The towers also held emergency communications systems, leaving local agencies scrambling after it fell. The collapse ultimately left the North Adams area without cell phone service until a temporary tower was set up.

The two towers were ultimately replaced with a single 195-foot-tall tower at about the same location on the Western Summit.

The lawsuit against Verizon alleges that, as Verizon made upgrades to its equipment on the tower beginning in 2012, it was negligent of the impact on the tower's structural stability.

Originally filed in Berkshire Superior Court in February, the case was bounced to United States District Court before returning to Superior Court on Aug. 5. A future court date has yet to be set.

Verizon has had a presence on the tower since it first signed a lease in 1990, operating as Pittsfield Cellular Company. The tower was then owned by Berkshire Broadcasting Company but changed hands to North Adams Tower Company in 2004.

In 2012, Verizon and North Adams Tower agreed that Verizon would make additions to its equipment on the tower. The lawsuit alleges that Verizon failed to use "reasonable and appropriate skill and care in the inspection, analysis, and additions to the tower," eventually resulting in its collapse in 2014.

The collapse caused damage to equipment owned by North Adams Tower and other lessees that utilized it, according to the lawsuit.

North Adams Tower was forced to replace the fallen tower and another adjacent to it, among other repairs in the wake of the collapse. The two towers were replaced with a single tower. The company estimated its losses at about $476,000.

The lawsuit also asks the court to shield North Adams Tower from claims by other companies that leased space on the tower and potentially suffered losses when the tower collapsed.

Corydon Thurston, owner of North Adams Tower, could not be reached on Friday, nor could the attorney representing North Adams Tower, Donald Goodrich.

A spokesperson for Verizon said the company does not comment on litigation.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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