A gas company owes a common law duty of reasonable care with respect to gas connectors, due to its superior knowledge.
The decedent's home exploded and was engulfed in flames, causing her death. After investigation, it was determined that the fire was caused by the failure of the flexible brass gas connector that connected the kitchen range to the gas supply. It had permitted natural gas to accumulate in the house, and when the decedent turned on an electric light, a small spark ignited the gas. The administrator brought the wrongful-death action, alleging that the company knew that the connectors were defective and that it had a duty to warn its customers about that danger. The trial court granted summary judgment to the company, finding that it owed no duty to decedent to warn her about the connector.
Is it a matter of law that the company has a duty to warn its customers of a dangerous condition of which it had actual knowledge?
The appellate court reversed, holding that it was a matter of law that the company had a duty to warn its customers of a dangerous condition of which it had actual knowledge. On further review, the court found that the company owed a common law duty of reasonable care with respect to the connectors, due to its superior knowledge. Further, the company's tariff did not absolve it from any duty and did not abrogate the common law exception to the rule of the company's nonliability.