Parten v. Webb

Decision Date03 March 1941
Docket Number36064.
Citation1 So.2d 76,197 La. 197
CourtLouisiana Supreme Court
PartiesPARTEN v. WEBB et al.

Campbell & Campbell, of Minden, and Herold Cousin & Herold, of Shreveport, for plaintiff-appellant.

Dan W. Stewart, Jr., of Minden, for defendant-appellee.

LAND Justice.

From a judgment sustaining an exception of no cause or right of action and dismissing the suit, the plaintiff prosecutes this appeal. An exception of no cause or right of action admits as true all of the well-pleaded facts contained in the petition.

(1) Plaintiff avers that he is the owner of 200 acres of land in Webster Parish, Louisiana, under which land he owns certain proportions of the mineral rights. (Tr. pp. 3 and 4.)

That defendant, Webb, notwithstanding plaintiff's ownership of the said proportionate part of the oil, gas and other minerals in the 200 acres, claimed to be the owner of a mineral lease thereon and executed a purported sublease thereof in favor of Hunt Oil Company wherein defendant, Webb attempted to reserve for himself as the price for said purported sublease a proportion of all of the oil and gas that may be produced from the 200 acres. (Tr. pp. 4 and 5.)

That at the time of the execution of the purported sublease the defendant, Webb, had no right, title or interest in either the lease or in the minerals or in the fee in and under the 200 acres but that, to the contrary, plaintiff was at that time the owner of the proportionate part of the oil, gas and other minerals set forth in his petition, and that defendant Webb, had no right to attempt to sublease said lands and did so subject to plaintiff's prior rights as owner of the said minerals. (Tr. p. 5.)

Petitioner then sets up that the sole claim of the said Webb at the time of the attempted sublease arose out of an old oil and gas lease executed on November 26, 1921--some 19 years ago (Tr. p. 6); this old lease covering the 200 acres referred to in paragraph (1) of the petition and also another 40-acre tract referred to in paragraph (6) of the petition (Tr. p. 8) and the lease was amended by all of the mineral owners in this other 40-acre tract and the then sublessee of defendant, Webb, the effect of this amendment being to separate the original lease into two separate and distinct lease agreements, one covering the original lease on the 200 acres referred to in paragraph (1) of the petition, and the other being covered by the amended agreement covering the 40-acre tract referred to in paragraph (6) of the petition. (See Tr. p. 22 for the separate agreement.) Petitioner averred that the original lease of November 26, 1921, was for a term of five years from its date and as long thereafter as oil or gas or either of them be produced from the said land (Tr. top p. 6), and there had been no production from the land covered by the original lease of either oil or gas during the last eight years and, as a consequence, the said lease to defendant, Webb, had lapsed more than eight years ago (Tr. p. 8 par. 7).

Petitioner further averred that, after the separate contract covering the 40 acres referred to in paragraph (6) of the petition was executed, a gas well was drilled under this separate contract on said 40-acre tract and that said gas well produced gas 'until the production thereon was so small that said lease contract ceased to remain alive.' (Tr. 9, par. 9.) Petitioner alleged that the royalties from the said gas well were paid under the provisions of the separate lease contract covering the 40 acres on which said well was located and only to the mineral owners interested in said 40 acres. Petitioner attached a statement showing that the royalties from this gas well averaged less than 50 cents a day during the latter half of 1937, and the first two months of 1938. (Tr. p. 12.)

Accordingly, the allegations of the petition show that there has been no production under the original lease during the last eight years, and that the production under the separate lease covering the separate 40 acres (which 40 acres is not involved here) was so small that the separate lease, even as to these 40 acres, had expired according to its own terms for want of sufficient production to keep it alive.

After the primary term of a mineral lease has expired and there is no production, or not enough thereon to keep it alive, the lease simply lapses according to its own terms. The term of this lease expires. Talley v. Lawhon, 150 La. 25, 90 So. 427; Smith v. Sun Oil Company, 172 La. 655, 135 So. 15; Logan v. Tholl Oil Company, 189 La. 645, 180 So. 473.

In Logan v. Tholl Oil Company, the lease there considered was for the primary term of eight months and as long as one of said minerals--referring to oil, gas and other minerals--can be produced in paying quantities. The court was called upon to consider whether production which yielded plaintiff a royalty slightly over $5 a month was sufficient to keep the lease alive, and stated in its answer as follows: 'Our answer is 'No,' and we therefore conclude that the leased property had ceased to produce oil in paying quantities within the meaning and terms of the lease, and consequently had terminated at the time of the filing of the suit.' Page 651 of 189 La., page 475 of 180 So.

Petitioner further averred that defendant, Webb, although the lease he claimed to own had expired according to its own terms, purported to sublet the oil, gas and minerals and the exclusive right to reduce same to possession to the Hunt Oil Company (Tr. p. 4), and that the said Hunt Oil Company had drilled two producing wells on the property referred to in paragraph (1) of the petition. Petitioner then stated that he had informed the said Hunt Oil Company that the said Webb had no right to execute the purported sublease and that he, petitioner, would assert in appropriate proceedings that he is entitled to receive from whoever produces oil on the said premises the proportionate part of the benefits that the said Webb attempted to reserve to himself in transferring the purported rights to Hunt Oil Company. (Tr. 9 and 10, par. 10.)

Petitioner then prayed for the usual citation and for a decree against the said Webb and Hunt Oil Company holding that petitioner is entitled to receive such proportion of the benefits that the Hunt Oil Company agreed to pay the said Webb as his mineral interest bears to the full mineral interest in the property (Tr. p. 9). Petitioner further prayed for judgment decreeing that, upon the payment to him by Hunt Oil Company of his proportionate part of the price and benefits reserved by the said Webb, said Hunt Oil Company be decreed to be in possession and operating the premises directly under your petitioner 'just as though petitioner executed' the said sublease to Hunt Oil Company. (Tr. p. 11.)

The defendant, Webb, contended below, and in this view he was sustained by the trial judge, that plaintiff could not elect to ratify the attempted transfer from defendant, Webb, to Hunt Oil Company and claim the benefits thereof. Defendant urged that the lease which he purported to transfer to Hunt Oil Company was either a valid lease or nonexistent: that if it were a valid lease, defendant, Webb, had the right to transfer it to Hunt Oil Company and plaintiff was without cause to complain or to seek to benefit thereby; that if it were a dead lease, there was nothing that plaintiff could ratify in such a way as to entitle him to receive what the defendant reserved when he transferred to Hunt Oil Company.

Defendant says that, assuming he had no lease on the property at all and purported to transfer the right to extract the minerals in plaintiff's land to Hunt Oil Company, he and Hunt Oil Company committed a tort and that plaintiff must sue defendant, Webb, and Hunt Oil Company in tort for damages; that no other action is available to plaintiff.

Defendant is clearly laboring under an entire misconception as to the nature of the action set forth in the petition.

This court has considered a number of cases involving the proceeds of the sale of oil rights, or the sale of minerals, or the right to reduce minerals to possession, and also mineral leases.

In Elder v. Ellerbe, 135 La. 990, 66 So. 337, the plaintiff claimed an undivided half interest in a tract of land and also claimed half of the bonus and royalties received by the defendant, Ellerbe, from the Standard Oil Company under a mineral lease from him (page 991 of 135 La., 66 So. 337). The court first considered the nature of the plaintiff's title and held that the plaintiff owned an undivided one-half interest in the tract. Then the court considered the contention of the defendant, Ellerbe, that he was not responsible for half the bonus and royalties received by him from the Standard Oil Company before the institution of the suit because he was a possessor in good faith (135 La. page 994, 66 So. 337). In connection with this latter point, the court held (page 996 of 135 La., page 339 of 66 So.): 'Our conclusion is that the defendant Ellerbe owes the plaintiff one-half of the price he received for permitting the Standard Oil Company to deplete this land of its mineral oil and gas. The fact that the plaintiff might have sued to annul the contract of lease between Ellerbe and the Standard Oil Company in so far as it affects her interest in the property does not defeat her right to recover half of the sum received by Ellerbe for the oil taken from the land owned by the plaintiff and defendant jointly.'

And defendant was condemned to pay the plaintiff one-half of the price he received from the Standard Oil Company when he leased the land to that company, as well as one-half the royalties accruing to him under said lease.

In Liles v Barnhart, 152 La. 419, 93 So. 490, the defendant, Gulf Refining...

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  • Superior Oil Co. v. Beery, 38528
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 23, 1953
    ... ... That case involved a dispute over the ownership of the 1/8th royalty. Briefly the facts were that Parten owned the royalty in Tract A and the North Central Texas Oil Company owned the royalty in Tract B. Each tract was under lease to Hunt Oil Company and ... See also Bailey v. Federal Land Bank, 207 Miss. 764, 43 So.2d 375; 3 Summers, Oil & Gas, Permanent Edition, Section 601, p. 486; Parten v. Webb, 197 La. 197, 1 So.2d 76; 31A Texas Jurisprudence, Section 158, p. 276; Earp v. Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation, 167 Okl. 86, 27 P.2d 855, 91 ... ...
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    • Louisiana Supreme Court
    • January 7, 1946
    ... ... In support of this ... contention, they cite the cases of Cooke v. Gulf Refining Co ... of Louisiana, 127 La. 592, 53 So. 874, and Parten v. Webb, ... 197 La. 197, 1 So.2d 76. We have read these cases, and ... neither is in point with reference to the issues here ... involved ... ...
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    ... ... Southern Carbon Co., 169 La. 935, 126 So. 429; Producers Oil & Gas Co. v. Continental Securities Corp., 188 La. 564, 177 So. 668; Parten v. Webb, 197 La. 197, 1 So. 2d 76 ...          6 Mallett v. Union Oil & Gas Corp., 232 La. 157, 94 So.2d 16 ...          7 ... ...
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    ... ... Parten v. Webb, 197 La. 197, 1 So. 2d 76; Caldwell v. Alton Oil Co., 161 La. 139, 108 So. 314, 318; Brown v. Sugar Creek Syndicate, 195 La. 865, 197 So ... ...
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