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Georgia Court of Appeals Finds Gas Company Is Not Liable for Injuries Caused by Residential Explosion

Earlier last month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a negligence case brought by a resident who was injured in an explosion that occurred when he turned on the gas to his apartment. In upholding the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the gas company, the appellate court concluded that even if the gas company was negligent, the subsequent actions of the tenant were an intervening cause of his own injuries. Thus, summary judgment in favor of the gas company was appropriate.

Pressure GaugeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was moving into a new apartment that was attached to a co-worker’s garage. At the time, the utilities in the apartment were off because the apartment had been vacant. Prior to having the plaintiff move in, the owner of the apartment arranged for the gas to be turned on.

A representative from the gas company came to the apartment to turn on the gas. However, when he arrived, the gas meter suggested there was a leak somewhere in the gas line. The representative explained this to the plaintiff’s son’s girlfriend and left a card with the woman, explaining that the gas could not be turned on because there was a “leak in the piping.” The card also explained that the representative “left [the] meter off but unlocked for plumber,” and the resident should “have the qualified agency/person connect and/or activate the appliance.” This was in violation of the gas company’s policy, which normally required the representative to lock the gas meter so that it could not be turned on until the leak was fixed.

Not understanding exactly what the card meant, the plaintiff arranged for a friend to turn on the gas. After the gas was turned on, the plaintiff attempted to light an incense, causing an explosion and resulting in a serious injury. The plaintiff then filed a negligence lawsuit against the gas company.

The Court’s Opinions

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit against the gas company, finding that the representative’s actions were not a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the case was affirmed, albeit for slightly different reasons. The court explained that, even if the representative was negligent in failing to place a lock on the meter, the plaintiff’s actions in turning the meter on despite having received a warning constituted an “intervening act” that severed the chain of causation. The court continued that, since the gas company could not have reasonably foreseen that a resident would turn the gas back on in clear violation of the written warning, summary judgment was appropriate.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Our skilled personal injury attorney at Miller Legal Services has decades of experience helping injured Georgians seek the compensation they deserve. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation today to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Georgia Appellate Court Holds Teacher Who Left Classroom Is Entitled to Immunity in Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2016.

Delivery Driver Struck While Delivering Fuel to Gas Station Allowed to Proceed in Premises Liability Case, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 1, 2017.