Face Challenges Confidently

235 SouthTex 66 Pipeline Co., LTD. v. Spoor

Tuesday, September 1st, 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.
SouthTex 66 Pipeline Co., LTD. v. Spoor, 238 S.W.3d 538 (Tex. App.-Hous. [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. filed), holds that a pipeline easement acquired by WesTTex Pipeline Company by condemnation may be leased by WesTTex to another pipeline company, SouthTex. The landowner contended that a “lease” is not an “assignment,” and that a condemned easement cannot be “leased” to others. The easement originally awarded by the court to WesTTex was based on WesTTex’s statement that, “The pipeline and any replacement pipeline will be utilized by WesTTex, and its successors and assigns, as a common carrier pipeline transporting crude oil and refined petroleum products . . . .”
Pipeline easements are assignable in Texas. Therefore, unless there is something specific to establish that an easement cannot be assigned, Texas law will allow it. In this case, the court held that the “successors and assigns” language was evidence that the easement was assignable.
The landowner argued that a lease was not an assignment. The court relied upon BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY for definitions of “lease,” “convey,” “transfer,” and “assignment” to conclude that an assignment is ultimately any mode of disposing of or parting with an asset or an interest in an asset.
The court distinguished Calcasieu Lumber Co. v. Harris which held in part that an easement acquired for a railroad did not include the right to lease the land. The court construed that prohibition as limiting the right to lease so as to prohibit a lease for an independent use not contemplated by the condemnation. In this case, WesTTex leased the easement to SouthTex for the same purpose as the original easement as condemned.
The significance of the case is the holding that a condemned pipeline easement may assigned or leased to another, provided the use is for the same purpose as the original easement.