St. Charles County v. Laclede Gas Co.Annotate this Case
Laclede Gas Company maintained gas lines along Pitman Hill Road in St. Charles County. Pitman Hill Road and the gas lines were located within areas established as public roads on five recorded subdivision plats. Each of the subdivision plats first established public roads and then designated the roads as utility easements. The plats specifically stated that one of the purposes of the utility easements was for the installation and maintenance of gas lines. The County planned to widen Pitman Hill Road, which required Laclede to relocate its gas lines. Laclede declined to pay for the relocation, after which the County filed a declaratory judgment action to require Laclede to bear the cost of relocation. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the County was required to reimburse Laclede for displacing the gas lines from Laclede's utility easement because the easements were constitutionally cognizable property interests and, therefore, requiring Laclede to relocate its gas lines without compensation would amount to an unconstitutional taking of private property.