to prevent the oil from continuing to run out but busied itself with determining whether or not it had carelessly allowed some other valves in its tank farm to be open. Then, after having stopped the loss of oil by closing the valve at 9:17, it again reopened the line at 9:45, still without knowing where the oil had gone, and permitted the ship to pump oil into the river for a half hour before finally closing it. Why the Refining Company employees did not cut off tank 826 until they could find out whether the oil had escaped from the pipe line or had flowed into another tank is a mystery.
Even if I were to accept the Refining Company's contention (which I do not) that its conduct before 7:11 A.M. cannot be criticized, I could not agree that the further addition of more than 8,000 barrels of oil to that already in the Schuylkill River was such an insubstantial amount that the damage suffered by the Navy was not contributed to by the Refining Company.
The Pipe Line Company has not met the burden which maintaining its pipe line at an elevation almost four feet above that allowed by the permit placed upon it - the burden of showing that the violation of its permit, and consequently of the statute,
could not have contributed to the accident.
The right of the Pipe Line Company to construct and maintain the pipe line depended entirely upon the permit issued to it by the Army Engineers which was for a pipe line 45 feet below mean low water. Although the line involved in these suits was originally laid at that depth, it was at the time of the accident only slightly more than 41 feet below mean low water. This was in all probability due to the fact that, during the backfilling of the trench, a slurry of sand, silt and water flowed down the sides of the trench and "floated" the pipe up.
In laying down the rule in The Pennsylvania, 19 Wall. 125, 86 U.S. 125, 136, 22 L. Ed. 148, the Court said that in the case of the violation of a statutory rule intended to prevent collisions, "the burden rests upon the ship of showing not merely that her fault might not have been one of the causes, or that it probably was not, but that it could not have been." This rule is not limited to collisions between ships. The Fort Fetterman v. South Carolina State Highway Department, 4 Cir., 268 F.2d 27. In the present case the requirement of the permit of a 45-foot depth was obviously intended to avoid just such hazards as eventuated in these lawsuits. Without entering into a hypothetical discussion, I need only say that I do not think that the Pipe Line Company has proved that the difference in elevation could not have contributed to the accident.
The Pipe Line Company is also liable to the Government under the Pennsylvania Pipe Line Statute, 15 P.S. § 2153(g), for damage caused by the escape of oil from the breaks in its pipe line.
The pertinent portion of the Pennsylvania statute referred to above provides, "Any company laying a pipe line within this Commonwealth shall be liable for all damages occasioned by leakage, breaking of pipes or tanks, or any negligence in the construction, maintenance or operation thereof. * * *" The Refining Company denies that the statute makes it liable in this case, for two reasons:
(1) The statute should not be interpreted to impose absolute liability for damages to any and all persons arising from the breaking of a pipe line regardless of how such breaking may have occurred. The argument is that the legislature had in mind a breaking caused by the failure of the pipe itself by reason of defective materials, improper construction, or deterioration and did not contemplate a breaking by an external force or act of a third party unrelated to the operation, maintenance, or construction of the line. The argument, in effect, is that, if absolute liability was intended, some additional words would have been added. True, this provision is in derogation of the common law and requires a strict construction, but a strict construction would lead only to the conclusion that the statute means exactly what it says, neither more nor less. The operative words "shall be liable" do not restrict or limit the liability imposed, and it would add nothing to their scope if the draftsman had added "absolutely" or "under any and all circumstances" or some similar expression.
When the legislature, in the second clause of the sentence, went on to make pipe line companies liable for damages arising from the "construction, maintenance or operation" of pipe lines, it made that liability depend upon negligence, and it is highly significant that no such restriction of liability had been put in the clause dealing with liability for leakage or breaking of the pipes. It is plain enough that the legislature intended that, if damage is done by the escape of oil from a broken or leaking pipe, there shall be no defense available to the pipe line company, whereas, in other cases
the ordinary principles of negligence apply.
(2) The other contention is that the section under consideration is unconstitutional because it is in violation of Article III, Section 3, of the constitution of the state, P.S. - "No bill, except general appropriation bills, shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title." The title of the original statute
recited that the act authorized, among other things, "the incorporation of pipe lines for the transportation of petroleum, and providing for the exercise of the right of eminent domain in taking lands and property for such purposes." That statute was subsequently amended, first, by the Act of April 30, 1929, P.L. 896, next, by the Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 550, and, lastly, by the Act of July 19, 1951, P.L. 1059. The title of the last amendment, so far as pertinent to this discussion, was
"'AN ACT To further amend section two of the act, approved the second day of June, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three (Pamphlet Laws 61), entitled "An act supplementary to an act, entitled 'An act for the incorporation and regulation of corporations,' approved April twenty-ninth, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-four, authorizing the incorporation of pipe lines for the transportation of petroleum, and providing for the exercise of the right of eminent domain in taking lands and property for such purposes," * * *.'"
The most recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upon the then more or less unsettled question of what must appear in the title of an act in order to comply with Article III, Section 3, of the constitution is found in City of Harrisburg v. Pass, 372 Pa. 318, 321, 93 A.2d 447. After referring to a number of earlier decisions of the Court, Chief Justice Stern said,
"Those cases establish that the title of an act need not be an index of its provisions nor a synopsis of its contents, that it is sufficient if it gives notice of its tenor to interested persons of a reasonably inquiring state of mind, that so long as it indicates a general subject to which the provision involved is germane or incidental the provision itself is sufficiently contained therein, - in short, that the title is not objectionable unless a substantive matter entirely disconnected with the named legislation is included within the folds of the act."