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.
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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.”
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Co-author Rusty Tucker

Contract construction cases are fact-specific, but one can take lessons of general application from all of them. Here are the takeaways from Jones Energy, Inc. v. Pima Oil & Gas, L.L.C.,

  • In assigning an ORRI, it matters whether the parties intend to exclude production from a particular interval of a formation or from a particular wellbore.
  • It also matters, when two documents relate to the same subject, which one will control.
  • Courts rely on the grammatical meaning of words and phrases. If in doubt when writing or reviewing a document, brush up on your eighth grade grammar.

Caveat: If this analysis doesn’t make total sense (or, God forbid, makes no sense at all), it’s because the agreements are complicated and we don’t have the space to dive into them in detail. Focus on the takeaways.
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Here we continue our discussion of the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in Piranha Partners et al. v. Joe B. Neuhoff et al. determining that an assignment of an overriding royalty in minerals unambiguously conveyed the override in production under an entire lease. The Court concluded that circumstances surrounding the transaction didn’t matter. Here was the