Blondell v. Consolidated Gas Co.

89 Md. 732, 43 A. 817 (1899)

 

RULE:

An unauthorized act to another’s property creates legal injury, even if the act would not damage the property.

FACTS:

The gas company was required by 1876 Md. Laws 356 to place a meter on each consumer's gas pipes and to insure that the meter was properly working. The gas saving company was hired by various consumers to place a governor on the pipes carrying gas into the consumers' homes. The gas company filed an action seeking to enjoin the installation of any more governors and seeking the removal of governors already in place. The gas company alleged that the gas saving company's installation resulted in broken, disconnected, and tampered with meters, pipes, and connections, which was dangerous because they carried natural gas. The gas saving company demurred, but the demurrer was overruled. The trial court granted the injunction as it applied to future installations, but refused to require the removal of existing governors. Both parties sought review.

ISSUE:

Is a gas saving company’s unauthorized installation of a governor (regulator) on a gas company’s gas pipes considered a trespass, even without proof of injury?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court determined that the meters and their connections were the gas company's property and they were entitled to have the gas saving company's trespasses enjoined. The court further determined that the consumers owned the pipes from the meters to their homes and that they were entitled to have the governors on that portion of the connection. The court AFFIRMED the trial court's decision enjoining the installation of governors on meters installed by the gas company, but REVERSED the refusal of an order to remove existing governors. The court modified the trial court's decision to permit the installation of governors only on the consumers' pipes and that such installation should be done according to rules and regulations adopted by both parties.

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