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

November 12, 1956

SILVIS, APPELLANT,
v.
PEOPLES NATURAL GAS COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 6, March T., 1956, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Aug. T., 1947, No. 364, in case of Richard Snyder Silvis et al. v. Peoples Matural Gas Company. Decree affirmed in part and reversed in part.

COUNSEL

Carroll Caruthers, for appellants.

Fred B. Trescher, with him James B. Sayers, and Kunkle & Trescher, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 386 Pa. Page 454]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Z. T. Silvus,*fn* owner of a tract of land embracing 49 acres and 35 perches in Bell Township, Westmoreland County, brought an action of ejectment against the People's Natural Gas Company, alleging that he owned the oil and gas on his property and that, therefore, the defendant was without right in erecting thereon a derrick, in laying down a pipe line some 1000 feet long, and extracting from the soil large quantities of natural gas. The plaintiff also asked for the awarding of damages

[ 386 Pa. Page 455]

    due him as a result of the defendant company's alleged illegal occupation and use of his land.

In its answer the defendant corporation denied that the plaintiff was the owner of the controverted oil and gas and asserted itself to be the actual owner by virtue of a recorded lease it entered into on November 10, 1943, with Laura B. Summersgill et al. This lease, in addition to coveying oil and gas, provided for "all other rights and privileges ... necessary or convenient for said operations, for the transportation of oil and gas produced from said land or for the storage of any gas therein." The defendant admitted the erection of the derrick and the laying down of a 3" pipe 875 feet in length, but asserted it had made use of only such part of the surface as was necessary to enclose the well it had drilled, with access to and exit from the area, and had used only such soil as was required to hold in place the pipe line buried in the ground.

In addition to claiming ownership of the litigated oil and gas, the defendant filed a counterclaim for $1,002, being rentals paid under two oil and gas leases entered into with the plaintiff, and which will be mentioned later.

The Court below found that title to the oil and gas rested in the defendant company and accordingly granted the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. In addition, the Court framed as issues for trial the plaintiff's asserted right to damages based on the defendant's operations, and the defendant's asserted right to a counterclaim because of rentals paid to the plaintiff.

It is clear from the record, and the abstracts of title filed, that the plaintiff is not the owner of the oil and gas which is the subject of this lawsuit. The common ...


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