Great Am. Ins. Co. of N. Y. v. Modern Gas Co., No. 742

Docket NºNo. 742
Citation247 N.C. 471, 101 S.E.2d 389
Case DateJanuary 10, 1958
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina

Page 389

101 S.E.2d 389
247 N.C. 471
GREAT AMERICAN INSURANCE COM-
PANY OF NEW YORK, a corporation,
v.
MODERN GAS COMPANY, Inc., Lumberton,
North Carolina, a corporation.
No. 742
Supreme Court of North Carolina.
Jan. 10, 1958

Page 390

[247 N.C. 472] Ellis E. Page, Lumberton, for plaintiff, appellant.

Varser, McIntyre, Henry & Hedgpeth and Everett L. Henry, Lumberton, for defendant, appellee.

PARKER, Justice.

Plaintiff's evidence tends to show the following facts:

On 2 May 1955, and prior thereto, Julius Bullard owned a one-story frame dwelling house, in which he and his wife lived, on Fairmont Road. In this home were household and kitchen furniture and other personal property.

[247 N.C. 473] The defendant is a North Carolina corporation, with its principal office in Lumberton, and is engaged in the sale, installation, and service of bottled gas and appliances.

On 5 October 1954 the defendant sold Julius Bullard a gas automatic water heater, and on the same day installed it, and a gas storage tank at his home. The gas storage tank was owned by Julius Bullard, but not acquired by him from defendant. In 1952 defendant sold, and installed in his home a gas space heater. The gas storage tank was a round, upright, above-ground tank, with a capacity of 125 gallons, and was situate at the rear of the house near an enclosed back porth at a place designated by Julius Bullard.

On the afternoon of 2 May 1955 defendant sent its tank truck to Julius Bullard's home for the purpose of putting liquefied petroleum gas in his storage tank. When the driver of defendant's tank truck arrived at Bullard's home, there was gas in his gas storage tank. The pilot lights were burning. No gas was escaping about Bullard's premises. Bullard's gas equipment had operated satisfactorily from the time it was installed, up until the time the driver of defendant's tank truck connected the hose from his gas tank wagon to Bullard's gas storage tank. Nothing was wrong with Bullard's gas equipment. Defendant's driver checked the gas storage tank, and found several gallons of gas in the storage tank. He also checked the tank, and saw the amount of pressure in it. Defendant's driver hitched the hose from the gas tank truck, screwed it to the gas storage tank, and started to put gas in the storage tank. The pump to pump gas from the truck into the storage tank is located in the foot of the truck. The pump is operated with a gear shift. The pump is put in gear, the truck motor does the pumping, and the gas comes out of the truck into the storage tank.

The defendant's driver began pumping gas into the storage tank, and after it had run a little while, the end of the tank started shooting a fog that went right up to the house. Julius Bullard's wife yelled, 'shut that thing off.' She went, and shut the back door. The pump was still pumping. It pumped a minute or so, and the driver had something in his hand, and it hit the valve ten or twelve times.

Julius Bullard testified as follows:

'48 gallons of gas were pumped into my tank when the ticket was burned out of the machine. The computator was going pretty fast like counting 1, 2, 3, and on. You could tell by the way the computator was running. When the valve started releasing a vapor the driver of defendant's truck ran back around the truck and cut it off. The hose [247 N.C. 474] caught on fire while the driver of the truck was helping me to learn to read the gauge. When the valve started releasing gas, he started beating the valve. He then went to the back there and cut it off after everything had went up. There was gas escaping from the hose connected to the tank and the fog and fire was blowing out of the end of that thing hot enough to melt the screen wire. I couldn't say there was any gas escaping around the connections. It was burning.

Page 391

'The noise was like a big peal of thunder and then a great ball of fire shot out from the house. The fire was coming from the corner of the house when he was hitting the valve. There was no fire around where he was hitting that valve. The hose leading to the wagon caught on fire. After he went back and cut the pump off, I told him to back the truck out. I then put a ladder on top of the house, and the driver crawled up there and helped me fight the fire. * * * I know that the stuff that was coming out of the tank like fog was gas.'

All the house was damaged. Every window sill 'was busted.' The doors didn't open as they did before, 'but came out the opposite way. ' The walls on the inside of the house were torn all to pieces in every room. The fair market value of the house immediately prior to the explosion and fire was $8,500; immediately thereafter $1,000.

On cross-examination Julius Bullard testified:

'That explosion must have occurred inside the house. It blowed the doors open. there wasn't any explosion out there where I was, except that ball of fire that came out. I don't know if that came from the inside the house. The gas coming out of the valve made a bigger sound than a hissing sound. The gas was escaping from that tank. It came out of my safety valve. It was gas that had come out of the tank of Modern Gas Company, but the place the gas was escaping was from this safety valve that I brought here. I didn't strike any match out there and I didn't see any fire out there where me and the driver of the gas truck were. the fire that I was talking about that burned my house was inside and out. It happened on the inside of the house first and then came out I don't know what caused the explosion inside of my house except the pilot lights went up. I was not in the house. I don't know what happened on the inside of my own knowledge.'

[247 N.C. 475] On redirect examination he testified:

'The first fire I saw was on the outside. The first fire was out there at the tank at the far end where the gas was coming out at the storage tank (my tank). That was the first fire I saw was outside. There was a ball of fire blowing out the other end.'

The parties stipulated that plaintiff is a foreign corporation doing an insurance business in North Carolina, and that it had issued to Julius Bullard its Policy No. 31993, covering his dwelling house and furniture. The evidence shows that plaintiff paid Julius Bullard all his damages to his house and furniture resulting from this explosion and fire. Upon receiving this payment from plaintiff, Julius bullard executed and delivered to plaintiff a Loan Receipt transferring and assigning to it any claim he has against the defendant for any negligence or other fault in causing the damage to his house and furniture, and authorizing plaintiff to prosecute suit against the defendant in his, or its name, for such loss or damage.

An agent of plaintiff testified the policy covered fire, lightning, or any event of that nature, and in accordance with the policy plaintiff paid Julius Bullard all the damage he claimed in the amount of $3,236.98, and that it is the holder of the Loan Receipt Julius Bullard assigned to it.

R. L. Spivey runs a furniture store. The next morning following the explosion and fire, he went to Julius Bullard's home, and examined the furniture and contents therein. They were burned and damaged, and had at...

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5 practice notes
  • Blueflame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, Nos. 82SC52
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 12, 1984
    ...796 (1964); Doxstater v. Northwest Cities Gas Co., 65 Idaho 814, 154 P.2d 498 (1944); Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 S.E.2d 389 Electricity is one example of an instrumentality requiring an enhanced degree of care by those supplying it to others for domest......
  • Sutton v. Duke, No. 40
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • August 28, 1970
    ...have been expected.' (Emphasis added) Williams v. Boulerice, 268 N.C. 62, 149 S.E.2d 590; Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 [277 N.C. 108] S.E.2d 389. Some of our decisions are difficult to reconcile. See the comments in 39 N.C.L.Rev. 323, 395 (1961) and 37 N......
  • American Cas. Co. v. Propane Sales & Service, Inc., No. 6477
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 1973
    ...Marshall v. Co-operative Oil Co. of Olmsted County, 284 Minn. 549, 169 N.W.2d 395 (1969); Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 S.E.2d 389 (1958); Chattanooga Gas Co. v. Underwood, 38 Tenn.App. 142, 270 S.W.2d 652 (1954). The cause of ignition was immaterial if r......
  • State v. Maynard, No. 651
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 10, 1958
    ...him, and pursuant to that conspiracy so entered into, and while in an attempt to carry out the unlawful purpose, to-wit, the robbery of [247 N.C. 471] Mr. Andrew, one of them shot and killed him, the Court instructs you, gentlemen of the jury, that both defendants would under those circumst......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Blueflame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, Nos. 82SC52
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 12, 1984
    ...796 (1964); Doxstater v. Northwest Cities Gas Co., 65 Idaho 814, 154 P.2d 498 (1944); Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 S.E.2d 389 Electricity is one example of an instrumentality requiring an enhanced degree of care by those supplying it to others for domest......
  • Sutton v. Duke, No. 40
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • August 28, 1970
    ...have been expected.' (Emphasis added) Williams v. Boulerice, 268 N.C. 62, 149 S.E.2d 590; Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 [277 N.C. 108] S.E.2d 389. Some of our decisions are difficult to reconcile. See the comments in 39 N.C.L.Rev. 323, 395 (1961) and 37 N......
  • American Cas. Co. v. Propane Sales & Service, Inc., No. 6477
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 1973
    ...Marshall v. Co-operative Oil Co. of Olmsted County, 284 Minn. 549, 169 N.W.2d 395 (1969); Great American Insurance Co. v. Modern Gas Co., 247 N.C. 471, 101 S.E.2d 389 (1958); Chattanooga Gas Co. v. Underwood, 38 Tenn.App. 142, 270 S.W.2d 652 (1954). The cause of ignition was immaterial if r......
  • State v. Maynard, No. 651
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 10, 1958
    ...him, and pursuant to that conspiracy so entered into, and while in an attempt to carry out the unlawful purpose, to-wit, the robbery of [247 N.C. 471] Mr. Andrew, one of them shot and killed him, the Court instructs you, gentlemen of the jury, that both defendants would under those circumst......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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