Judge Orders Oil Company to Lay Pipe the Old-Fashioned Way
COSHOCTON, Ohio (AP) _ An appeals court is being asked to decide whether an oil company seeking to replace a pipe will have to do it the old-fashioned way - with human hands and horses.
In August, Judge Richard I. Evans ruled that the Ohio Oil Gathering Corp. could not be barred from replacing the pipe it installed more than 60 years ago. But he said the company could not use heavy machinery that might damage property outside the 10-foot easement it was granted in 1924.
The property owner, Bruce Shrimplin of Warsaw, had fought the company’s efforts to replace the pipe.
The company had argued that the easement was not practical for modern machinery and said the primary purpose of the easement, granted by John B. Foster, the property’s previous owner, was to give the company access even if it damaged the land.
But Evans sided with Shrimplin, citing a handwritten statement by Foster in the original document that said: ″This grant covers the pipe line in the place and manner it is now laid.″
The judge ruled that Foster’s statement limited the methods and machinery that could be used to those available in 1924.
While the company may employ some modern materials, such as welded pipe rather than pipes joined by threaded joints common to the 1920s, the company ″is not free to invade defendants’ land with a horde of monstrous machines which subject the land to much greater damage than ... was ever thought of by John B. Foster in 1924,″ Evans said.
″Crops and fences can be replaced in short order; native hardwood trees and valuable topsoil cannot,″ the judge wrote.
The company appealed on Thursday.
A witness for the company, Reo Davis, said that when the pipes were laid, men with shovels dug the trench, the pipes were hauled to the site by teams of horses and the pipes were laid by hand.