Marshall v. Co-Operative Oil Co. of Olmsted County, CO-OPERATIVE

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtHeard before KNUTSON; PER CURIAM
Citation284 Minn. 549,169 N.W.2d 395
PartiesLeon MARSHALL, Respondent, v.OIL COMPANY OF OLMSTED COUNTY, Appellant.
Decision Date03 July 1969
Docket NumberCO-OPERATIVE,No. 41596

Page 395

169 N.W.2d 395
284 Minn. 549
Leon MARSHALL, Respondent,
v.
CO-OPERATIVE OIL COMPANY OF OLMSTED COUNTY, Appellant.
No. 41596.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
July 3, 1969.

[284 MINN 549]

Page 396

Nord, Webster & Brennan, St. Paul, for appellant.

Dingle, Krieger, Patterson, Rochester, for respondent.

Heard before KNUTSON, C.J., and MURPHY, ROGOSHESKE, SHERAN, and PETERSON, JJ.

OPINION

[284 MINN 550] PER CURIAM.

This is a case involving an explosion-fire claimed to have been caused by the ignition of propane gas which percolated through the soil from a leak in an outside, underground supply line into a basement and there accumulated in a sufficient amount to ignite and cause a flash fire. Plaintiff, a painter by trade, suffered severe burns, and his recently purchased dwelling house, located in Rochester, was badly burned. Following a trial, a jury returned a special verdict awarding damages to plaintiff upon specific findings as to the cause of the fire and as to defendant's negligence in installing the gas service or in failing to make a reasonable inspection of the system following plaintiff's complaint shortly after installation that his fuel consumption appeared to be excessive. See, Wilson v. Home Gas Co., Inc., 267 Minn. 162, 125 N.W.2d 725.

In its post-trial motion and on this appeal, defendant challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's affirmative answers to the following specific questions submitted to them, which are commendably phrased in terms of specific factual claims:

(1) 'Did the fire in the Marshall basement start with ignition of propane gas?'

(2) 'If the answer to the above question is 'Yes,' did this gas come from a leak in the underground outdoor tubing and seep into the basement through a crack in the south wall of that basement?'

(3) 'If the answer to the above question is 'Yes,' did the leak in the underground outdoor tubing occur because of some negligence of the defendant?'

As is not uncommon in this type of case because of the esoteric circumstances surrounding the explosion and resulting fire, the answers to questions (1) and (2) depended upon the persuasiveness the jury accorded to the conflicting opinion testimony of admittedly qualified expert witnesses, one presented by plaintiff and three presented by defendant. All of these experts made exhaustive postfire investigations. Although impeached to some extent on cross-examination, plaintiff's expert eliminated all causes of...

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4 practice notes
  • American Cas. Co. v. Propane Sales & Service, Inc., No. 6477
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 1973
    ...law. Bubrick v. Northern Illinois Gas Co., 130 Ill.App.2d 99, 264 N.E.2d 560 (1970); 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. Underwoo......
  • Fidelity Bank v. Dunbar Armored, Inc., No. A04-997 (MN 12/14/2004), No. A04-997.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 14, 2004
    ...showing that any one cause of damage is more likely than others is sufficient to sustain a verdict. See, e.g., Marshall v. Coop. Oil Co., 284 Minn. 549, 551, 169 N.W.2d 395, 397 (1969) ("All that is required to sustain a verdict for plaintiff is sufficient evidence to permit the jury t......
  • Jennie-O Foods, Inc. v. Safe-Glo Products Corp., JENNIE-O
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • August 11, 1998
    ...was based on expert testimony and on exhibits showing that the heaters had caused the fire. Gillis cites Marshall v. Co-Operative Oil, 284 Minn. 549, 169 N.W.2d 395 (1969) (involving a fire found to be caused by a propane leak), to argue that the jury's verdict on causation of the second fi......
  • Ferry v. State, No. 41478
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 3, 1969
    ...confessions were admissible we need not decide. It is clear from this record they did not induce the plea of guilty. On the contrary, it [284 Minn. 549] is obvious that the plea was entered because defendant had in fact committed the crime. At the presentence examination conducted by the tr......
4 cases
  • American Cas. Co. v. Propane Sales & Service, Inc., No. 6477
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court of Nevada
    • September 14, 1973
    ...law. Bubrick v. Northern Illinois Gas Co., 130 Ill.App.2d 99, 264 N.E.2d 560 (1970); 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. Underwoo......
  • Fidelity Bank v. Dunbar Armored, Inc., No. A04-997 (MN 12/14/2004), No. A04-997.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 14, 2004
    ...showing that any one cause of damage is more likely than others is sufficient to sustain a verdict. See, e.g., Marshall v. Coop. Oil Co., 284 Minn. 549, 551, 169 N.W.2d 395, 397 (1969) ("All that is required to sustain a verdict for plaintiff is sufficient evidence to permit the jury t......
  • Jennie-O Foods, Inc. v. Safe-Glo Products Corp., JENNIE-O
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • August 11, 1998
    ...was based on expert testimony and on exhibits showing that the heaters had caused the fire. Gillis cites Marshall v. Co-Operative Oil, 284 Minn. 549, 169 N.W.2d 395 (1969) (involving a fire found to be caused by a propane leak), to argue that the jury's verdict on causation of the second fi......
  • Ferry v. State, No. 41478
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • July 3, 1969
    ...confessions were admissible we need not decide. It is clear from this record they did not induce the plea of guilty. On the contrary, it [284 Minn. 549] is obvious that the plea was entered because defendant had in fact committed the crime. At the presentence examination conducted by the tr......

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