City of Galveston v. Kenner – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In City of Galveston v. Kenner, 111 Tex. 484, 240 S.W. 894 (Tex. 1922), the plaintiff was the owner of a two-story building; the lower floor housed five or six storehouses or shops while the upper floor was rented as a hotel. Kenner, 111 Tex. at 486.

The stores and hotel were supplied with water through one meter. Id. Kenner and his tenants requested the city to install separate and distinct meters and water service for each of the stores and for the hotel. Id.

The city refused, relying on an ordinance that, among other things, prohibited the installation of more than one service line and one meter for any house or building and made the owner responsible to the city for the payment by the tenant for all waters furnished and supplied to him. Id. at 486-87.

The court explained the obligation of a water supplier, whether that be a municipality or public service corporation:

"It is the duty of the organization supplying the water to supply same impartially to all reasonably within the reach of its pipes and mains. This service must be given without discrimination between persons similarly situated or under circumstances substantially the same. Water must be furnished to all who apply therefor, offer to pay the rates, and abide by such reasonable rules and regulations as may be made a condition for rendering the service." Id. at 488.

The court ultimately concluded that the effect of the ordinance was to deny a tenant the right to water in the city unless he was in possession of an entire building and the ordinance was therefore unreasonable and discriminatory. Id. at 489.

Moreover, the court concluded the ordinance "denied the right of anyone to erect or own buildings" in the city for rental purposes unless the owner assumed the additional obligation of paying the water rents of his tenants. Id.