Face Challenges Confidently

126 Siegert v. Seneca Resources

Tuesday, September 8th, 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.
Siegert v. Seneca Resources Corp., 28 S.W.3d 680 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 2000, n.pet.h.), considers whether a severed mineral estate is subject to the doctrine of accretion. A tract of land along the Brazos River was described in a 1932 deed severing the minerals as containing 100 acres. A 1955 survey showed that the tract contained 181 acres. Siegert contended that the increase was due to accretion and that the doctrine of accretion is not applicable to severed minerals.
Under the doctrine of accretion, an owner of riparian land gains title to increases in his property caused by natural forces. The Siegerts claimed that the 1932 deed could only have reserved a mineral interest to the original 100 acre tract that was described in the deed. Following the Austin Court of Appeals in Ely v. Briley, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals held that the doctrine of accretion applies to surface estates as well as mineral estates, and that a severed riparian mineral interest is subject to accretion just as a surface estate is subject to accretion. To hold otherwise would create claims to slivers or strips of small mineral interests along river edges that would not appear in title searches, and would be virtually impossible to administer or litigate. The court also held that there should be no difference between the mineral rights in unsevered riparian mineral interests and severed riparian mineral interests.