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STEELE v. PEOPLES NATURAL GAS COMPANY. (11/12/56)

November 12, 1956

STEELE, APPELLANT,
v.
PEOPLES NATURAL GAS COMPANY.



Appeals, No. 207, March T., 1956, and No. 1, March T., 1957, from judgments and verdicts of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1952, No. 3080, in case of Beulah Steele et al. v. Peoples Natural Gas Co. et al. Judgment in favor of each defendant and each additional defendant other than Underwood affirmed; judgment for additional defendant Underwood reversed. Trespass for personal injuries. Before O'BRIEN, J. Verdict for defendants; plaintiffs' motion for new trial refused. Plaintiffs appealed.

COUNSEL

Hymen Schlesinger, for plaintiffs, appellants.

William H. Eckert, with him Milton W. Lamproplos, and Smith, Buchanan, Lngersoll, Rodewald & Eckert, for defendant company, appellee.

Randall J. McConnell, Jr., with him Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote, Reif & Robinson, for additional defendant, Soltz, appellee.

Thomas E. Barton, Assistant City Solicitor, with him J. Frank McKenna, Jr., City Solicitor, for defendant city, appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Bell, Chidsey Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Stern

[ 386 Pa. Page 441]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HOWACE STERN

In this action plaintiffs seek redress for injuries sustained by them as the result of an explosion of gas which, they claim, was caused by the negligence of the defendants, Peoples Natural Gas Company and the City of Pittsburgh.

Plaintiffs all lived at 50 Crawford Street in Pittsburgh. The Gas Company maintained a curb box for the adjoining house at 48 Crawford Street which was located in the sidewalk and close to the division line between the two houses. The consumer's gas service pipe for the house at No. 48 commenced at the curb box, ran into the cellar vault of that house beneath the sidewalk, through the front wall of the vault and along that wall to the inlet side of the gas meter, then from the outlet side of the meter along the front wall and a side wall, through the rear wall of the vault, and thence throughout the house.

On the night of April 24, 1952, one Underwood parked his automobile on the sidewalk in front of 48 Crawfore Street directly over the curb box. Although there were supporting beams above the vault the

[ 386 Pa. Page 442]

    weight of the car caused the sidewalk to cave in with the result that the front end of the car crashed into the cellar vault of the 48 Crawford Street house. Either the car itself or a section of the sidewalk struck and broke the gas pipe at a point between the front wall of the vault and the inlet side of the meter; gas escaped ...


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