Hague vs. Wheeler - on one’s property or flow away...

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Econ 404 5/7/2009 Hague vs. Wheeler Judge: Williams Court: Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Location, Date): Pennsylvania, October 1893 Plaintiff: Hague Case Summary: The production of gas and oil in the state of PA is a new problem and it was obviously not covered by the founding fathers. Hague had a gas well that produced a considerable quantity of valuable gas. Wheeler dug a well and it didn’t produce much, so he let the gas escape, Hague claims that all the gas wells are linked, and that not capping it off will cause depletion of his profitable well. Then Hague went onto Wheeler’s land and at his own expense, capped off the well. Wheeler threatened to remove the cap and continue to let the gas escape. Again more heavens to hell land ownership. Solid or liquid valuable materials are up to an owner to use, sell, save, dig, or squander. It is impossible to estimate how much one has on their property, or how natural formations might cause liquid valuables to collect
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Unformatted text preview: on one’s property, or flow away towards another’s. Just as one clears land and burns the trees, a sawmill could put use to it, but just because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure doesn’t make it lawfully wrong to discard it. It might morally be nice to help out a neighbor, but this is not a requirement by law. One may waste as long as he doesn’t disregard his neighbor’s rights, and endanger the public, he still has an absolute right to his property. Defense: Wheeler Verdict: Wheeler can leave the well un-closed and gas can leak out. Hague must not cap off the well. Law and Economics Notes: Having gas leak today might pose considerable public risk, and the outcome might be different. This seems to be another case of it being too difficult to control. Economically this seems to go against the expected principals, Wheeler is allowed to waste and this is usually not allowed because it is not good for the public’s greater good....
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