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Harris v. Ohio Oil Co.

Supreme Court of Ohio

November 23, 1897, Decided

No Number in Original


 [**504]  The matters and things set up in the answer and cross-petition, and expressly admitted to be true by the reply, must be regarded as conceded by the parties, and therefore true, notwithstanding the finding of the circuit court to the effect "that the matters and things set up by way of defense in the answer and cross-petition are not true."

The case therefore stands the same as if the facts expressly admitted by the reply to be true,  [**505]  had been found by the court in addition to the finding as made; and the rights and remedies of the parties must be determined by the terms and conditions of the written instrument and the facts, both as found by the court, and as expressly admitted in the reply.

] While the written instrument must be [***12]  construed in the light of the surrounding circumstances, no new terms or conditions can be injected into such instrument, and no existing terms or conditions can be taken therefrom by averment in a pleading. In Kellogg v. Larkin, 3 Pinney (Wis.,) 123,  [*126]  56 Am. Dec., 164; it is said: "No averments can give to an agreement character it had not, and no admission can take from it the character it had." The effort to bend and change the construction of the written instrument in question, by averments in the pleadings, as to its true construction and meaning, must therefore fail, and the instrument must be construed, and its legal effect declared from the language used when read in the light of the surrounding circumstances. The facts found, and those admitted by the reply, are not such as to bend or vary in any respect, the construction or legal effect of the language used in the written instrument, and therefore a consideration of the terms and conditions, and legal effect of the written instrument itself, is all that is required.

It is not claimed by the plaintiff in error, that the oil company is in default as to the one-sixth of the royalty, nor as to the payment [***13]  for gas, nor as to completing one well within six months, nor as to cash payments for delay. His only complaint is, that the company has failed to drill the number of wells necessary to properly develop the lands and so protect the lines as to prevent wells on adjoining lands from draining the oil from under his lands; and for this alleged default he seeks to forfeit the lease as to so much of the land as has not been sufficiently drilled. What are his rights in this regard under the lease? Is he entitled to the remedy he seeks? These questions are fairly made in the record, and are of great interest to the oil producing, and oil land interests of the state.

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57 Ohio St. 118 *; 48 N.E. 502 **; 1897 Ohio LEXIS 127 ***


Prior History:  [***1]  ERROR to the Circuit Court of Wood county.

Disposition: Judgment affirmed.


lease, oil, drilled, implied covenant, forfeiture, lines, written instrument, lessee, terms, paying quantities, conditions, premises, oil and gas, oil company, covenant, forfeit, parties

Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Parol Evidence, General Overview, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Covenants, Lease Agreements, Energy & Utilities Law, Oil, Gas & Mineral Interests, Implied Covenants, Drilling Agreements, Reasonable Development, Leases & Licenses, Implied Duties, Oil & Petroleum Products, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Express Conditions, Remedies, Rescission & Redhibition, Natural Gas Industry, Marketing & Transportation, Pipelines & Transportation, Natural Gas Transportation