Face Challenges Confidently

375 Walker v. Campuzano Enters., Ltd.,

Monday, August 31st, 2015


Richard F. Brown

The following is not a legal opinion. You should consult your attorney if the case may be of significance to you.
Walker v. Campuzano Enterprises, Ltd., No. 02-10-00061-CV, 2011 WL 945167 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Mar. 17, 2011, no pet.) (mem.op.) applied the Duhig Rule to hold that a grantor is estopped from asserting a reservation of a mineral interes, when the reservation would conflict with the estate purportedly conveyed in the deed. McGinty conveyed land to Walker, reserving 1/2 of the minerals. Walker then conveyed all of the same land, with the following provision:

SAVE AND EXCEPT, and there is hereby reserved one-half (1/2) of all oil, gas and other minerals in and under said land, together with the right of ingress and egress for mining, reserved under Jessie McGinty, Republic National Bank of Dallas, W. E. McGinty, Co-Trustee of the Robert Ray McGinty Trust, in Deed to Bill J. Walker dated October 26, 1978, recorded in Volume 6616, Page 460 of the Deed Records of Tarrant County, Texas.

The Walker Deed also contained a general warranty.  Walker claimed the Walker Deed reserved 1/2 of the minerals to Walker.

The court assumed, without deciding, that the Walker Deed effectively reserved a 1/2 mineral interest to Walker, as Walker contended. The court then applied the Duhig Rule to hold that Walker was estopped from claiming the 1/2 mineral interest.   In Duhig v. Peavy-Moore Lumber Co., the conveyance to Duhig reserved 1/2 of the minerals. Duhig then conveyed a 1/2 interest in the mineral estate and reserved a 1/2 interest. The Duhig Deed was silent as to the 1/2 of the minerals previously reserved by Duhig’s grantor. The Duhig Deed also contained a warranty of title. The Duhig Court stated that, under these circumstances, interpreting the deed to give effect to Duhig’s reservation would have the effect of breaching the warranty “at the very time of the execution and delivery of the deed.” Accordingly, the Duhig Court held that the grantor was estopped from asserting a reservation. Applying the Duhig Rule to the facts of this case, the court said that Walker breached the warranty of title and was estopped from asserting the alleged 1/2 reservation to Walker.

The court’s analysis is not entirely clear, but it apparently reasoned that if the reservation was effective to reserve 1/2 of the minerals to Walker, then there was no mention of the reservation of 1/2 of the minerals by McGinty. Therefore, the Walker Deed conveyed the land in fee with warranty reserving 1/2 of the minerals to Walker. Because Walker only held 1/2 of the minerals, this was a breach of warranty, and the Duhig Rule applied to estop Walker from claiming Walker’s reserved 1/2 of the minerals. However, the Walker Deed does clearly reference the McGinty Deed by volume and page, so the court’s reasoning appears to depend upon reading the Walker Deed reservation as to McGinty as reserving or excepting only a right of ingress and egress. That is, the Walker Deed reserves only one “1/2 interest in the minerals,” and, regardless of whether McGinty or Walker may own that 1/2 interest in the minerals, Walker is estopped from claiming that Walker’s grantee did not get a 1/2 interest under the Walker Deed. Because Walker purported to convey 1/2, when Walker only owned 1/2, Walker’s grantee got all of Walker’s alleged 1/2 reservation.
The case is a reasonably straight forward application of the Duhig Rule, but only if the language used in the Walker Deed is construed as the reservation or exception as to one half, not two halves. That is, the language could have been construed as a reservation of 1/2 to Walker and an exception of 1/2 as to McGinty. Walker’s grantee clearly had both actual and constructive notice of the existence of the 1/2 interest outstanding in McGinty.