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Mahowald v. Minnesota Gas Co.

Minnesota Supreme Court
344 N.W.2d 856 (1984)


Alice and Michael Kannegieter (plaintiffs) moved into a new house six months before it exploded from a leaking natural-gas main. The Kannegieters sued the Minnesota Gas. Co., which had installed the gas main in the right-of-way in front of the home seven years earlier, as well as Barbarossa and Sons, a utility contractor that struck the gas main twice with a backhoe while installing water and sewer pipes (defendants). Barbarossa had reported both strikes to the gas company, and a gas-company repairman repaired the first strike, which had severed the main. The second strike scraped and bent the main 16 feet from where the leak eventually occurred, but because the pipe remained intact, the repairman wrapped it with special tape, sealed it, and reburied it. The Kannegieters brought negligence claims against both defendants and pleaded res ipsa loquitur against the gas company only. The trial court submitted the negligence claims but refused to instruct the jury on res ipsa loquitur. After the jury found neither the gas company nor Barbarossa negligent, the Kannegieters appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kelley, J.)

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