Gering couple says error during fiber-optic project damaged house

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GERING, Neb. (KNEP) - EDITOR'S NOTE: NBC Nebraska has become aware that there are two companies with the name Cencon operating in the Nebraska Panhandle, and the use of the name in the final paragraph of the original story may have caused some confusion. The name has been corrected in the final paragraph to reflect Cencon of Kansas, which is a separate and distinct company from Cencon, LLC based in Scottsbluff. We apologize for the omission and confusion the original article may have caused.

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UPDATED: A Gering couple says negligence during a fiber-optic installation project last year has destroyed their home.

David and Regina Lashley filed suit in March against Allo Communications, Cencon of Kansas and the City of Gering, seeking nearly $400,000 in property damage and lost rental revenues, plus unspecified general and special damages. The plaintiffs say the defendants should have been aware of water service lines to all lots in the area.

In court documents, the Lashleys say a water service line to an adjacent lot they own was damaged in April 2017 during installation of fiber-optic cable in the neighborhood. They say the resulting water loss created a sinkhole, which has caused shifting of their driveway, walkway, garage and house.

In the suit, the Lashleys say the situation has completely compromised the house foundation and structure, saying the garage has separated from the house, doorways have shifted so doors will not close, flooring is buckling and the basement is no longer level. They say the most recent estimates to repair the damage are approximately $355,000, and that they've lost $36,000 in rental revenues after having to move into a rental house they own.

In answers to the court, both Allo and Cencon of Kansas denied the couple's allegations, and they both indicated they relied on information from the City in determining where the fiber cable should be laid. The lawsuit appears on the Gering City Council's agenda for Monday night; the city has yet to file a response with the court.