Patricia Richardson describes the legal battle like the biblical David slaying Goliath.
She and her husband challenged cell giant T-Mobile and power company Dominion Energy in court over what they argued was an illegal cell tower erected on a Dominion power pole in her backyard.
The power pole was there legally – Dominion has an easement for the property dating back to 1958.
But a cellphone provider, which was eventually bought by T-Mobile, struck a deal with Dominion to put cellular broadcasting equipment on that pole in 2001 without making a deal with the landowners for access.
In 2004, Richardson and her husband bought the property. For a decade they didn’t make an issue of the cellular antennae that stuck up 15 feet above the 100-foot steel power pole visible from Interstate 264. However, technicians came onto their property several times without asking the couple’s permission and new equipment was added to the pole.
Once they realized what those antennae were sitting on top of the power pole, they went to T-Mobile. After they said they were given the runaround by the company, they tried to take them to court in 2014. That case was dismissed by a judge who said it had taken the Richardsons too long to sue the company.
Meanwhile, money changed hands between the companies, the Richardsons never saw a dime and the technicians kept coming. So they sued again in 2015, alleging “unjust enrichment” – that T-Mobile was profiting off of their property – and sought $4 million in compensation and the removal of the equipment.
“A little homeowner goes up against a major corporation,” Richardson said this week.
And as far as she is concerned, like David and his sling against the gargantuan Goliath, she won.
The company quietly settled with Richardson early this year, after a judge affirmed the lawsuit could proceed but before it got to trial.
Now the cellular antennae that were sticking out from the power pole are gone. Their removal was reported earlier by WAVY-TV.
Richardson said she can’t talk about the details of the settlement, which she said was finalized in April. Her attorney, Josh Baker, declined to comment beyond saying the case has been “resolved.” T-Mobile representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“It took me a long time, and it was a long battle, but I had to stick it out,” Richardson said this week. “I’m so glad it’s over. I’ve got so much peace.”