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The defendant maintaining a water ditch or tank, or operating and using water pipes, will not be liable for damages caused to others from the escape of the water from his premises in the absence of negligence.
Annie Lee Turner and others (the landowners) brought suit against the Big Lake Oil Company and others for damages to recover for the alleged pollution of the landowners’ land and water holes, as a result of the alleged negligence of Big Lake in permitting the escape of salt water and other substances from salt water ponds or earthen tanks maintained by Big Lake on their own land and in connection with their oil producing operations on their own property. Judgment of the trial court in favor of Big Lake was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals (62 S. W. (2d) 491), and the landowners have brought error to the Supreme Court.
May Big Lake and others, without negligence on their part, be held liable in damages for the destruction or injury to property occasioned by the escape of salt water from ponds constructed and used by them in the operation of their oil wells?
The court held that the defendant maintaining a water ditch or tank, or operating and using water pipes, will not be liable for damages caused to others from the escape of the water from his premises in the absence of negligence. The landowners were required to demonstrate negligence by the oil company in order to recover damages for the harm caused to their property.