In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court determined a gas company was not responsible for a home explosion after the company’s employee left a warning card about a leak for the homeowner, and the homeowner disregarded the instructions on the note, causing an explosion. In November 2010, an explosion occurred in a detached apartment on the homeowner’s property. The owner had turned off the natural gas to the apartment and to his house because no one was living in the apartment and because he was not using it in the house. The owner then rented the apartment to a co-worker and asked the natural gas company to turn the gas back on.
An employee from the gas company came over, unlocked the meter, and turned the gas on. When he did so, he saw that the meter showed there was a leak in the fuel line or an open line, so he turned the gas back off. He did not lock the meter. He did not know at the time there was an apartment behind the house. He left a warning card at the house that explained the meter could not be turned on until a leak had been fixed. The employee noted on the card that the meter was off but was unlocked for a plumber.
The owner’s stepson’s girlfriend was home at the time and signed the warning card. The employee also said he left a card on the meter, although the owner said he did not see a card when he returned home. The owner explained that he saw the warning card but did not understand that he had a leak. The owner then asked a friend, who had done odd jobs for him in the past, to come turn his gas on. A couple of days later, the coworker moved into the apartment along with a friend. He ignited a lighter to light an incense, and there was an explosion that set the apartment on fire. The coworker and his friend were hospitalized for burns.