Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Morgan v. High Penn Oil Co. case brief

Morgan v. High Penn Oil Co. case brief summary
77 S.E.2d 682 (N.C. 1953)

Appellant land owner and appellant oil company challenged the decision of the Superior Court of Guilford County (North Carolina) that entered judgment in favor of appellees and enjoined appellants from continuing operations in a civil action to recover temporary damages for a private nuisance.

Appellees filed a civil action that sought to enjoin appellants from continuing its operation of an oil refinery and temporary damages. The trial court found in favor of appellees. The trial court denied appellants' motion for nonsuit.


  • The supreme court reversed and ordered a new trial for both appellants. 
  • The court found, in appellant oil company's situation, that appellees had established an actionable nuisance claim at trial but in their complaint, appellees contended that appellants were negligent and careless in constructing and operating the refinery. 
  • Because negligence and private nuisance were distinct fields of tort liability, the court found that appellant oil company was entitled to a new trial.
  • In appellant land owner's case, the court found that the action should have been involuntarily nonsuited because recovery could not be had in a civil action on the basis of matters alleged, but not proved, or proved but not alleged.
The supreme court reversed the decision of the lower court and ordered a new trial when the court found that the lower court had improperly instructed the jury by giving an instruction regarding a private nuisance when that was not the legal theory under which appellees asserted their claim.

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