This seems to me to be like the surgeon who
leaves a sponge in the belly; i.e. res
ipsa loquitor should apply.
You misunderstand the principle of res ipsa loquitor. In the case of a medical malpractice or negligence action, a plaintiff must show, among other things, that the defendant was neligent. Simply because the defendant did something that caused harm is not itself enough—the defendant must have been negligent. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer but did do all the tests, etc., that competent doctor would do given the patient's symptoms and the patient suffers a significantly worse medical outcome because of the missed diagnosis, the doctor is not liable in malpractice because he was not negligent: he did what he was supposed to do and the cancer simply wasn't revealed.
Res ispa loquitor helps a plaintiff establish the negligence. It is a Latin term meaning "the thing speaks for itself." It is used in the law to situations that, by their very nature, could not have possibly occurred other than by the negligent act of the defendant. Leaving a sponge in a patient is always negligent; the doctor should keep track of the sponges and ensure that none are left in the body. There is no medical justification for leaving them in there. Thus, res ipsa loquitor helps establish the negligence.
However, even then the plantiff must still prove damages. If the sponge left in the body caused no damages, the patient has nothing to recover in the lawsuit, regardless of the fact that the doctor screwed up. Tort law is meant to compensate for the harm done, not give plaintiffs effectively a windfall from the defendant's actions. The idea is to make the plaintiff whole; not punish the defendant nor make the plaintiff better off than he would be without the defendant's actions.
So, again, here you'd need to show damages from the trespass to win damages. Yes, they needed some kind of easement to run the lines over other people's property. And if they don't get it, you can keep them from putting the lines there and can force them to remove the lines if they put them there anyway. And you can sue for any damages that result. That's a decent package of rights. What you don't get is the right to hit up the company for a lot of money over and above the damages you actuallly incurred.
Otherwise why wouldn't Charter just do
whatever it can get away with, then when
discovered just say: "my bad, we didn't hurt
Corporations make those kinds of cost/benefit decisions all the time.