Category Archives: Texas Supreme Court Decisions

Texas Supreme Court: Duty of Executive Rights Holder to Non-Participating Royalty Owner

Recently, the Texas Supreme Court clarified the duty owed by an executive rights holder to a non-participating royalty owner when negotiating an oil and gas lease.  KCM Financial LLC v. Bradshaw is an important opinion as it makes clear what obligations the executive rights holder has, and does not have when negotiating and signing mineral leases.  [Read full opinion here.] Basic Legal Background Generally, if not severed, a mineral owner possesses certain rights as part of mineral ownership.  These rights include the executive right, which is the right to… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court: What Happens When Deed Descriptions Differ?

When the metes-and-bounds description in a deed conflicts with another, more general description in the deed, which controls?  The Texas Supreme Court recently answered this question in Stribling v. Millican DPC Partners, LP.  [Read full opinion here.] Background Millican and McGregor are neighboring landowners in Brazos County.  They are at odds over which of them owns a 34.28 acre tract. Tracing this back in the deed records, there is a 1945 deed that, using metes-and-bounds identifies 202 acres, including the 34 acre tract in dispute, as being deeded from… Read More →

Tx Supreme Court Holds Recreational Use Statute Does Not Apply to Spectators at Sporting Events

A question had arisen in Texas appellate courts over the last several years:  Would attending a sporting event as a spectator fall under the definition of “recreation” thereby allowing the defendant to raise the Recreational Use Statute as a defense? Last week, the Texas Supreme Court answered this question in University of Texas at Arlington v. Williams.  [Read full opinion here.] Background The plaintiff attended her daughter’s high school soccer game at the University of Texas at Arlington football stadium.  She watched her daughter’s game through completion.  After… Read More →

Anti-Climactic Ending to Underground Trespass Case

In a much-watched case involving underground trespass, the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling issued last Friday amounts to a punt.  Environmental Processing Systems v. FPL Farming raised the question of whether disposal well fluids disposed of thousands of feet below ground, which then migrate across property lines constitutes trespass. As you will remember from this prior blog, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral argument on this case one year ago. Background In this case, a Liberty County rice farmer sued his neighbor, a disposal well company, claiming that subsurface trespass… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Reminder: Read Before You Sign!

Last week, the Texas Supreme Court opinion in National Property Holdings, LP v. Westergren offers an important reminder to always read a document before signing.  [Read full opinion here.] Background Mr. Westergen was involved in a multi-party lawsuit over the right to purchase a 190 acre parcel of land.  During mediation, the parties agreed to settle their dispute, release their claims against one another, and that National Property Holdings (NPH) would purchase the property.  According to Mr. Westergren, NPH’s attorney orally promised Westergen that he would become a partner… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Issues Important Opinion Regarding Damages to Real Property

Last week was a busy one for the Texas Supreme Court.  In addition to the Hamrick v. Ward opinion we discussed on Monday, the Court also issued an important opinion in Wheeler v. Enbridge Pipelines, L.P. that clarifies the proper measure of recovery for damages to real property.  [Read full opinion here.] Background The Wheeler family owned 153 acres of heavily wooded property in Shelby County.  The Wheelers agreed to grant Enbridge an easement across the property in order to place a pipeline, but required that the pipeline be installed by… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Law Regarding Implied Easements

The Texas Supreme Court’s decision last week in Hamrick v. Ward is important as it clarifies the law regarding implied easements, which could impact landowners across Texas.  [Read full opinion here.] Background The facts in this case are actually less important than the legal principles set forth by the court.  Thus, the facts are reviewed only briefly in very simplified form. In 1936, O.J. Bourgeois owned 41.1 acres in Harris County.  He convened two acres of this property to his grandson, Paul.  During Paul’s ownership, a dirt road was constructed… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court Sides with South Texas Ranch in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Texas Supreme Court recently considered the duty of a landowner and his employees with regard to people trespassing on the property.  The Boerjan v. Rodriguez  decision affirmed that a landowner or occupier of land owes only a limited duty not to intentionally injure a trespasser.  This case was closely followed by a number of agricultural interest groups in Texas and provides important information for landowners who confront trespassers on their property.  [View opinion here.] Background In this case, a family (father, mother, and child) from Mexico hired a driver to provide transportation… Read More →

Texas Supreme Court: Implied Surface Use Includes All Pooled Tracts

*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.* On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court reversed both the Washington County trial court and First Circuit Court of Appeals (Houston) in Key Operating & Equipment, Inc. v. Hegar.  I previously blogged about the court of appeals opinion and the Supreme Court review of this case here. Background This case involved two neighboring tracts of land known as the Richardson tract and the Curbo tract.  Key Operating leased the mineral rights on the Richardson tract since 1987.  From 1994 to 2000,… Read More →