Indiana Attorney General files suit against contractors working with MetroNet

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – After a summer filled with gas line ruptures in central Indiana, Attorney General Curtis Hill filed suit in Hamilton County against five out-of-state excavation contractors who investigators said worked in the county to install fiber optic cable on behalf of MetroNet.

The lawsuits say the contractors, International Inc., RLM Underground LLC, Nexgen Directional LLC, RC Underground LLC, and Crosier Lane Consulting Inc., did not obtain certifications of authority from the secretary of state to conduct business in Indiana.

"This is a company that we understand they have a great product but they just don't hire the right excavators, they really are taking the public health into danger," State Sen. Jim Merritt said.

MetroNet ran into issues in Westfield, Fishers and Carmel when gas lines were ruptured over the summer, that prompted their work to halt in some instances. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission's Pipeline Safety Division released a report in September that found the company used unlicensed contractors for its utility work in central Indiana and that MetroNet's contractors and a gas company were responsible for 20 gas line ruptures in Carmel and Fishers.

After the report, MetroNet said it voluntarily paused all underground construction in central Indiana while it conducted further contractor training.

"We've just recently discovered that they've hit another gas line in Lafayette, Indiana," Sen. Merritt said.

He chairs the Senate Utility Committee.

"Our summer utility committee has agreed to support a bill this coming session that will start the process of keeping people safe, saying that excavators have to register with the state of Indiana in the Secretary of State's office, but we really endeavor to have public safety education about this," he said.

CBS4 News reached out to spokespeople for MetroNet.

The Attorney General is asking the court to award a civil penalty in each case against the contractors up to the maximum of $10,000.

IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt released the following statement on the lawsuit:

"I'm very thankful that Attorney General Curtis Hill is filing lawsuits against the five contractors involved in damages in the cities of Carmel, Fishers and Westfield who were not registered with the Indiana Secretary of State's office. Public safety is a top priority of the Commission, and proper compliance with Indiana law regarding registering with the Indiana Secretary of State's office ensures we have the appropriate contact information to enforce penalties against those involved in gas line damages across the state."

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