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Home > Collections & Resources > Transcripts > Thomas Gibson. v. West Lothian Oil Co. Ltd. 1886


Action against the West Lothian Oil Co.Ltd.

Lord McLaren, in the Court of Session today, gave judgement in an action at the instance of Thomas Gibson, farmer, Barracks, near Livingstone, against the West Lothian Oil Company. Pursuer asked for declaratory that since 1884 the defenders had illegally carried on the manufacture of oil, and had formed a bing of spent shale on the lands of Dean, within 700 yards of his dwelling-house, creating gaseous effluvia and smoke of a nauseous and noxious character, injurious, not only to the health of pursuer and his family, but also to the stock on his farm. He asked for £800 for the damage which he had sustained, and interdict against the company continuing the process complained of, or for £2500, as damages. Pursuer stated that he held the farm on a lease for 21 years from Martinmas 1867, and alleged that a number of his cattle and sheep were poisoned by mineral oils and deposits, distributed over his lands and in the drainage. The crops had deteriorated, and could not now, he said, be sold owing to their being tainted with the defenders manufacture. The pasture was covered with soot and mineral oil deposits, and was unfit for food. The works were increasing every day, thus causing additional nuisance, but stated that, in order to avoid the expense of further litigation, without admitting the pursuer's claim, they were ready to offer £40 in full of all claims.

His lordship, after adverting to the voluminous proof which had been taken and expense thereby incurred, "utterly disproportionate to the importance of the case,' said that it came out in evidence that the pursuer accepted £10 in full of his claims on the 16th March, 1885. He had, therefore, only to consider the damage subsequent to that date. Dealing with the question of damage to stock, Lord M'Laren said that although traces of oil were found in some of the carcases, paraffin oil was so generally used that he could not say it was impossible that it might have been introduced into the carcase through accident or carelessness, and the pursuer's refusal to give the defenders the opportunity of testing the evidence was an unfavourable feature of the case. Pursuer was shut up to the conclusion that the sheep died through eating grass contaminated by smoke, and that they should die by the score from that cause was to his apprehension extravagant. He therefore came to the conviction that the conclusions for damage to stock were unfounded. As to the damaged crops he could not lay aside the experience of experts. He did not doubt their statements, but he did not think that that cause of injury existed to any considerable extent, and he therefore granted absolvitor with expenses.

Edinburgh Evening News, November 23, 1886


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