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Ellison v. Gambill Oil Co.

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20257
Nos. No. COA06-1016, (N.C. Ct. App., 10/02/2007)

North Carolina's appellate court reversed and remanded a jury's award of $500,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to the owner of a well whose water was contaminated with gasoline due to leaking underground storage tanks at a nearby gasoline station. The trial court failed to instruct the jury on the third-party exception to the strict liability provisions of the North Carolina Oil Pollution and Hazardous Substances Control Act. Because sufficient evidence was produced at trial to allow a reasonable inference by the jury that a third party's actions were the cause of the discharge of gasoline, the lower court's failure to instruct the jury on the third-party exception to the strict liability statute was erroneous. The court, therefore, reversed and remanded for a new trial.