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Ebert v. South Jersey Gas Co.

Decided: September 4, 1992.

JOHN EBERT AND FRANCIS EBERT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SOUTH JERSEY GAS COMPANY, DEFENDANTS



Visalli, J.s.c.

VISALLI

[260 NJSuper Page 105] This is a motion for summary judgment brought by defendant, South Jersey Gas Company. As such, the facts plaintiff

asserts will be taken as true since plaintiff is opposing defendant's motions.

I

Prior to March 7, 1990, plaintiffs, John and Frances Ebert, entered into a contract with defendant, South Jersey Gas Company, for the installation, maintenance or repair of gas lines, piping and service into their home in Ocean City, New Jersey. Thereafter, plaintiffs paid monthly consideration to defendant for gas service.

On March 7, 1990 an explosion occurred at plaintiffs' home. Plaintiffs contend that this explosion was due to the negligent failure of defendant, South Jersey Gas Company, to adequately install, inspect, maintain, and/or repair the gas lines and piping in the vicinity of their home. Plaintiffs also allege breach of contract due to defendant's failure to properly install, maintain, inspect, service and repair the gas lines, piping and service to plaintiff's home.

Plaintiffs were compensated by their insurance company for damage to their property and bring this action on behalf of the insurance company.

Defendant brings this motion on the grounds that because this is a subrogation claim it is barred by public policy.

II

The issue in this case is whether the Supreme Court decision in Weinberg v. Dinger, 106 N.J. 469, 524 A.2d 366 (1987) applies to all public utilities or is limited to water companies only.

The Weinberg case was a subrogation claim. The Supreme Court held that a private water company was not immune from liability for its negligence in failing to provide sufficient water pressure to fire hydrants, except with respect to subrogation claims asserted by fire insurance companies, basing its decision on public policy.

Prior to Weinberg the law in New Jersey was that absent an express contractual or statutory provision, a private water company was not liable for negligently failing "to provide a sufficient supply of water at sufficient pressure to fire hydrants to extinguish a fire which is destroying an individual's ...


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