Co-author David Leonard

In a precurser of disputes sure to come, in Lyle v. Midway Solar, LLC, a Texas court of appeals delivered a win for solar energy by applying the accommodation doctrine in favor of a solar developer’s actual use of the surface of the land over speculative future development of the mineral estate.

The lesson for mineral and surface owners

Mineral owners: This decision should remind you to diligently monitor surface use and, as appropriate, intervene in the development process with informed feedback about your actual or potential surface use needs.

Surface users: Conversely, you should be willing to incorporate informed feedback from mineral owners into the design of surface projects. An arbitrary and unilateral designation of drilling areas is unlikely to suffice under many circumstances.
Continue Reading Solar Beats Minerals in a Texas Accommodation Doctrine Battle

Co-author Rusty Tucker

In re Plains Pipeline, L.P., is a suit to adjudicate title to groundwater. Did the trial court err in allowing a party to drill seven test holes on a tank farm? (Spoiler alert: It didn’t.) This decision evaluates an order in a unique civil discovery situation, and the underlying claims exemplify approaches to disputes over groundwater rights.
Continue Reading A Unique Discovery Request in a Texas Water Rights Fight

Co-author Rusty Tucker

In a suit to foreclose a property tax lien, if the taxing authority does not exercise due diligence to support service of citation by a method other than by personal service can the owners, as a matter of due process, raise that defect for the first time after expiration of the statute of limitations? Heidelberg v. DOH Oil Company says “no”.


Continue Reading Challenge to a Tax Sale Comes Too Late

Co-author Rusty Tucker

Estate of Trickett was a dispute over heirship of Claralyn Trickett, possibly the wife of Robert Bowerman (who must have forgotten to divorce his previous wife).

The descendents of Claralyn brought a quiet title action and an heirship proceeding against the heirs of Robert, who claimed an interest in his estate by virtue of his marriage to Claralyn. The trial court abated the quiet title suit while the parties fought over Claralyn’s heirship,

The result

The court agreed with the descendents of Robert that the general four year statute of limitations applied and that Claralyn’s heirs’ cause of action began to accrue in 1972 when she died. The claim was barred by limitations because they did not file suit until 2015, 42 years after she died and 38 years too late.

This was not an action to recover real property. If it were, the cause of action would not have been barred by limitations.  The real property issue was not presently before the court. The only requested relief was to have the court declare the identity of Claralyn’s heirs and the respective shares and interest of each in her estate.
Continue Reading Limitations Bars an Heirship Proceeding

Let’s begin with a quiz:

What is a “Labor” ? Assuming you met one face to face, how big is would you expect it to be?*

From Great Western. Drilling, Ltd. v. Pathfinder Oil & Gas, Inc. we learn that if you want one agreement to be conditioned on execution of another one, you’d better say so … in writing … in the first one. Texas courts look for ways to avoid conditions precedent.
Continue Reading Offer to Acquire Leases Could Not be Conditioned on a JOA

Co-author Kelley Clark Morris

Geary v. Two Bow Ranch Limited Partnership* is an example of the havoc an unusual contract provision can create.

In 1981, Geary and other Grantors executed a warranty deed conveying 2,614 acres (let’s call it the Property) in Bandera County, Texas, to Meader, Two Bow’s predecessor. The Grantors reserved an undivided one-half mineral interest, and conveyed one-half. The deed conveyed to Meader the ”executory rights” to its minerals and reserved the same to Grantors over their half. The deed included this “Provisional Authority” language:

“Grantee may control the executory rights pertaining to the minerals provided the Grantors and Grantee share equally in any and all proceeds related thereto.”
Continue Reading “Provisional Authority” to Control Executive Rights Not Assignable