Jennings v. Amerada Petroleum Corp.

Decision Date06 April 1937
Docket Number27154.
Citation66 P.2d 1069,179 Okla. 561,1937 OK 228
CourtOklahoma Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

1. A deed should be interpreted and the meaning of the parties thereto ascertained in the same manner as govern other written contracts.

2. It is only when a deed possesses an element of uncertainty that parol evidence, the admissions of the parties and other extraneous circumstances may be proved to ascertain its true meaning.

3. The general rule is that the granting clause in a deed determines the interest conveyed.

4. The recitals "less the right of way" and "except right of way" in the granting clause of a deed have a well-defined and accepted meaning and contain no element of uncertainty or ambiguity. Thereunder the grantor conveys his entire interest in the servient estate and at the same time expressly recognizes and acknowledges the dominant estate.

Appeal from District Court, Pottawatomie County; J. Knox Byrum Judge.

Action by E. M. Jennings against Amerada Petroleum Corporation and another for a money judgment, wherein Max Tischer intervened and the cause was transferred from the superior court of Pottawatomie county to the district court of Pottawatomie county and tried before a special judge. From a judgment sustaining the demurrer of the defendant to the evidence, and the motion of the intervener for judgment in his favor, the plaintiff appeals.


Clarence Robison, of Tecumseh, for plaintiff in error.

Victor C. Mieher and R. Y. Stevenson, both of Tulsa, and Goode Dierker & Goode, of Shawnee, for defendants in error.


This action was instituted in the superior court of Pottawatomie county by E. M. Jennings, hereinafter referred to as plaintiff, against the Amerada Petroleum Corporation hereinafter referred to as defendant, to recover the sum of $750 as rentals on a strip of land consisting of approximately 13.51 acres. Subsequently one Max Tischer hereinafter referred to as intervener, was permitted to file a plea in intervention in said cause. Plaintiff declared upon a written lease contract which purported to have been executed on the part of the defendant by one N. A. Ludewick as agent. Answer of the defendant in addition to a general denial expressly denied the authority of Ludewick to execute such contract and asserted that the same was invalid and that it had been expressly disavowed and rejected by the defendant and the plaintiff so advised. Plaintiff in his reply alleged that the defendant had accepted the benefits of the lease and had gone into possession of the premises therein described and had occupied and used the same and that if said lease was invalid in its inception that the defendant had thereafter ratified and confirmed the same. The intervener, joined therein by his wife, filed a petition wherein they alleged that they were the owners of the quarter section of land which included the 13.51 acres and that they had acquired the same by warranty deed from plaintiff and that they asked judgment quieting title against any claims of the plaintiff and that they should have any rentals that might be found to be due on said premises. Defendant answered the intervener's petition admitting title of the intervener but denied that it was indebted to the intervener in any sum. Plaintiff in answer to the petition of intervener in addition to a general denial pleaded that the matters alleged in intervener's petition were not germane to the issue between the plaintiff and the defendant and that the intervener was neither a necessary or proper party to the action and further pleaded that the deed which plaintiff had executed to said intervener was not intended to convey and did not convey the 13.51 acres involved in the controversy. Reply was in the nature of a general denial. The cause was transferred to the district court, a jury was waived by all parties, and the cause was thereupon tried before the Honorable J. Knox Byrum, as special district judge. Demurrer of the defendant to the evidence of the plaintiff was sustained and the cause dismissed as to the defendant. The motion of the intervener for judgment in his favor was likewise sustained and a judgment was entered quieting title as against the claims of the plaintiff.

In the trial court the plaintiff conceded that if his claim of title to the 13.51 acres was not well founded, that he was not entitled to recover in the action and the case was tried upon the single issue thus presented. It appears from the record that on December 17, 1914, the plaintiff and his wife executed a deed to the intervener, the granting clause of which contains the following language: "The Southwest Quarter of Section Thirty Two (32) Township Nine (9) North, Range Five (5) East of the Indian Meridian, in Pottawatomie County Oklahoma, containing one hundred and sixty acres more or less, less the right of way of the Little River Drainage ditch containing 13.51 acres and except right of way of M. K. & T. Ry. Co."


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