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Petty v. Butane Corp.

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 21, 1961

Joe R. PETTY and Nancy B. Petty, a minor, by her Guardian ad litem, Joe R. Petty, Appellants,
v.
BUTANE CORPORATION, a corporation, and Robb Traylor, Appellees.

Page 736

Gust, Rosenfeld, Divelbess & Robinette, Phoenix, for appellants.

Jennings, Strouss, Salmon & Trask, by Rex. H. Moore and Charles R. Esser, Phoenix, for appellees.

JOHN A. McGUIRE, Superior Court Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment on directed verdict in favor of defendants, Butane Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the corporation), and its employee, Robb Traylor, in a suit for damages brought by Joe R. Petty (hereinafter referred to as plaintiff) for himself and as guardian ad litem for his minor child, Nancy, on account of a butane explosion.

The negligence alleged in essence is that defendants having undertaken to make an inspection of the gas lines (in connection with installing a butane tank outdoors) in a house about to be occupied by plaintiff and his family, negligently failed to make a proper inspection, and negligently failed to discover an uncapped tube connected [89 Ariz. 359] with the gas system from which gas escaped causing the explosion.

Mr. DeGraves, who was at the time of the installation administrative assistant for the corporation and responsible for the overall operations of the company, testified that it was a mandatory requirement of the corporation that a pressure test be made on each and every installation job by the installer.

The invoice stamped 'Paid' includes in the list of work to be done 'Pressure test lines.'

Hence there can be no doubt that the corporation did assume this duty, and it is not necessary for the court to consider or discuss the rules laid down in Scarborough v. Central Arizona Light and Power Company, 58 Ariz. 51, 117 P.2d 487, 138 A.L.R. 866.

Accordingly, the sole question to be considered is whether there is enough evidence to permit the logical inference that defendants failed to make a pressure test or made it negligently, and whether such failure was the cause of the explosion. If so, the judgment should be reversed; otherwise it must be affirmed.

Traylor testified positively that the test was made and that this was done by attaching a gauge to the line at the tank end and charging the lines with butane gas to a pressure of five pounds and watching the gauge for a period of five to ten minutes and that it held a constant pressure. The entire test took twelve to fifteen minutes.

The plaintiff assisted in installing the tank, and his testimony upon this subject was as follows:

'Q. Now, during the period of time that the was there, can you tell us how much of that period of time you were with him? A. I was with him most all the time. There was a little time I wasn't with him when he went in to blow through the line, blow the line out.

'Q. And were you present when he put on this riser and connected it up to the tank itself? A. I was.

'Q. You have heard Mr. Traylor's testimony that he put on a test meter which had a gauge with a little arrow on it, you heard his testimony to ...


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