715 Martin v. Newfield Expl. Co., No. 13-17-00104-CV, 2018 WL 1633574 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Apr. 5, 2018, pet. filed)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Richard F. Brown

The following is not a legal opinion. You should consult your attorney if the case may be of significance to you.

Martin v. Newfield Expl. Co., No. 13-17-00104-CV, 2018 WL 1633574 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Apr. 5, 2018, pet. filed) (mem. op.) held that an offset well clause in a lease was not triggered because the well in question was not drilled on “acreage adjoining” the lease. The parties aligned as “Lessor” and “Lessee” under the “Martin Leases” which included an obligation to protect against drainage and drill an offset well or release if a well “is drilled on acreage adjoining this Lease. . . .” Most of the Martin Leases were included in the “Martin Unit.” Lessee established another nearby pooled unit (“Simmons Unit”) located near the remaining unpooled Martin Leases, but separated by one, small, narrow tract of land, Farm Tract 3584, between the Simmons Unit and the unpooled Martin Leases. Lessee contended that if there was any duty to prevent drainage, “such a duty was not triggered because the Simmons Unit was not ‘adjoining’ the Martin Leases as a matter of law, according to the lease agreements.”

Existing authority has defined “adjoining” as “lying next to, adjoining to, uniting, being in contact,” and “touching” or “sharing a common boundary.” Also, two tracts of land separated by an 80-acre tract of land have been held to be not “adjoining lands.” “Because the lease agreements in this case do not provide contrary definitions, we give ‘adjoining’ its plain, ordinary, and general meaning, and hereby adopt the definitions of our sister courts.” The court held the Simmons Unit was not acreage adjoining the Martin Leases as a matter of law.

The case follows existing precedent in strictly construing “adjoining” to mean “sharing a common boundary.”