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[U] Reed v. Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 19, 2014

ROBERT W. REED, Appellant
v.
COLUMBIA GAS OF PENNSYLVANIA, INC., COLUMBIA NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., COLUMBIA GAS TRANSMISSION CORPORATION, AND PENNSYLVANIA LAND HOLDINGS COMPANY LLC., F/K/A PENNSYLVANIA LAND HOLDINGS CORPORATION

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment Entered May 17, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County Civil Division at No. 11 in Equity 2003

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., OTT AND MUSMANNO, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.

This appeal arises from the granting of summary judgment below, in favor of the Columbia defendants-appellees, from the suit filed by plaintiff-appellant Reed ("Reed"), seeking injunctive relief to enforce an agreement to provide free gas to Reed's house. Finding no error, we affirm.

Reed's right to free gas traces from an ancient source. On April 20, 1900, Reed's predecessor, William Hoge, agreed to lease the gas interests underlying his farm to George E. Rice (recorded January 26, 1901). One of the terms of that lease provided that Hoge was entitled to have free gas for the use of his household from the well that was subsequently drilled.

On July 8, 1943, the free gas agreement was modified by William Hoge's successor, Samuel Hoge, and by Rice's successor, Manufacturers Light and Heat Company ("Manufacturers"). This new agreement limited the amount of free gas to 300, 000 cubic feet per year. The agreement also contemplated the construction of another well, but stipulated that the free gas would be provided "at present connection." At the time, gas was provided by a ten-inch gas transmission line owned by Manufacturers.

The Hoge property was subsequently subdivided such that the gas well was located on one 193-acre parcel of real estate and the Hoge house was on another 17-acre parcel. Robert and Lynn Hoover presently own the 193-acre parcel. Nonetheless, the right to free gas continued to be conveyed with the Hoge house. In 1995, Reed purchased the 17-acre parcel upon which the Hoge house existed, as well as the right to free gas.

In 1996, Columbia Natural Resources, Inc. ("CNR") was now the entity responsible for providing free gas to Reed, while Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation controlled the ten-inch gas line that supplied Reed. On August 20, 1996, CNR and Reed entered into a new agreement for the provision of free gas which included the following pertinent provisions:

(1) Applicant's right to receive gas is derived solely form [sic] the referenced lease, and the delivery of gas by Company to Applicant is not to be construed as a recognition of Applicant's right to be supplied with gas under any other condition or circumstance.
(3) Whether gas is delivered to Applicant hereunder directly from a gas well covered by the referenced lease, or in lieu thereof from a pipeline, Applicant hereby releases and discharges Company and Distribution Company from any and all claims arising in any way from the quality of the gas delivered hereunder, or from the use Applicant makes of the gas.
(6) Applicant hereby grants to Company an easement for a site, acceptable to Company, for the location of the company service line, meter set assembly, and building, as may be required, from which gas will be delivered hereunder.

AGREEMENT FOR DELIVERY OF FREE GAS AND OVERBURN GAS PROVIDED BY LEASE ("the 1996 Agreement"), 8/20/1996 at clauses 1, 3 (in pertinent part), and 6 (in pertinent part).

In 1999, CNR conveyed the gas lease to Nicole Energy. Although this agreement conveyed the obligation to provide free gas, the Columbia entities inadvertently continued to provide free gas to Reed. In the early 2000's, Nicole Energy conveyed its acquired gas leases and wells to Pennsylvania Land Holdings Corporation ("PLHC"), including that which affected Reed. In 2002, CNR notified PLHC that it was going to discontinue supplying free gas to Reed. The Columbia entities terminated gas service to ...


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