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A deed reserving an undivided interest of all the oil, gas and other minerals produced, saved and made available for market reserved a royalty interest.
Appellee attorney represented a client in various matters and had been compensated by grant of a 1/160th interest in mineral rights on a tract of land. Appellants were heirs of the grantor, who then brought suit to recover the 1/160th interest in mineral rights. A jury found in favor of the appellee. On appeal, appellants claimed the deed was unfair because all monies to appellees resulting from oil production were free and clear of any costs, whereas appellants were required to pay the costs of bringing the oil to market. Appellants also claimed that appellee mislead the grantor and that it constituted a breach of fiduciary duty.
Under the circumstances, could the appellants recover the 1/160th interest in mineral rights conveyed to the appellee attorney?
The court affirmed the judgment, holding that the deed had unambiguously conveyed royalty to appellee in lieu of services rendered; and thus, any extrinsic evidence was immaterial on the issue of the intention of the parties. In addition, the court found that no constructive fraud was perpetrated on grantor because there was proof that during her lifetime, she discussed the vast sums of money being paid to appellee, so the statute of limitations had run. The court also held that the right to reform based on fiduciary duty was an equitable one personal to her and it was not a covenant running with the land.