Q: Can a utility company put ALL responsibility on homeowner in case of damage to a shallow buried gas line?
SoCal gas is charging me almost $1,300 for repairing a severed gas line which was burred shallow (~10" instead of 18") in a flower bed and was not otherwise protected. I didn't know I had to call 811 in case of shallow digging, so I didn't. Do cases like https://law.justia.com/cases/oklahoma/supreme-court/1970/42087.html set precedence to dispute this in court (SoCal gas is not taking any responsibility and is refusing to lower the charge below $1200)?
A: I don't know that an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision will help you any in your case, as it is in a different sate, and judges can go one way or another. If there has been no lawsuit filed, you can probably go to your local small claims court and file your own small claims case against So Cal. If you win, they can appeal to superior court. If you lose, you cannot appeal.
A: An Oklahoma case isn't going to help. However, it appears that SoCal Gas has regulations that a gas line should have 30" minimum cover for new installation on private property. https://www.ladbs.org/docs/default-source/publications/misc-publications/gasserviceguidebook.pdf?sfvrsn=4 ; See p. 26 &27. That may be for a main line. 18" appears to be the standard for service lines, although I couldn't find any statutes, regulations, or Gas Co. literature to make it a requirement.
Regardless, notify your homeowner's insurance. It will defend and indemnify you for any covered damages for which you are liable, up to your policy limit. Your homeowner's insurance may dispute your liability and force the Gas Company to file a Small Claims action against you, or your insurer may pay the claim.
Alternatively, you might be able to hire a plumber to do the repair yourself.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.