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Colquitt v. Gulf Prod. Co. - 52 S.W.2d 235 (Tex. Comm'n App. 1932)

Rule:

Being the only lessor of the mineral estate and all its incidents, the State is the only one who could maintain an action to avoid the transaction, even if good cause existed therefor.

Facts:

This suit was instituted by W. H. Colquitt as receiver of the estate of Mrs. M. A. Smith, the validity of whose appointment as receiver was upheld by the Court of Civil Appeals in Monroe v. Smith, 1 S.W.2d 358, and by W. H. Colquitt also as next friend of Mrs. M. A. Smith, basing his right to sue as next friend upon the fact alleged that Mrs. Smith was 'by reason of bodily infirmity, mental infirmity, and both bodily and mental infirmity incapable of caring for her rights in the litigation.’ The cancellation of two certain so-called oil and gas leases was sought. Sections 22 and 28 belonged to the public free school lands and were sold by the State of Texas September 21, 1915, to Mrs. M. A. Monroe, who later married W. A. Smith. The land was sold under a mineral and dry grazing classification. Section 20 belonged to the public free school land and was purchased from the State on October 6, 1905, by John Monroe, the former husband of Mrs. Smith, under a dry grazing classification. A trial was had to a jury and special issues submitted, three of which called for an answer as to the ability of Mrs. M. A. Smith to care for her interests in the litigation.

Issue:

May the oil and gas leases be cancelled due to Mrs. Smith’s alleged insanity at the time of the execution of said leases?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

Under the undisputed evidence, no right exists to a cancellation of the lease of Sections 22 and 28 in behalf of Mrs. Smith, because she had no interest in the subject matter thereof, and also because the lease is of such a character, and was executed under such circumstances, as to make it valid, even if she were insane when it was executed. The action of the Court of Civil Appeals in reversing the judgment and rendering final judgment against the defendants in error as to Sections 22 and 28 is correct, because under the Relinquishment Act, which must control, Mrs. Smith never had any estate or interest in the minerals in those sections, the subject of the lease, nor any right respecting them which would support an action by her, or in her behalf, to cancel the lease as to them. Such rights or privileges as Mrs. Smith had with respect to the mineral estate in these two sections arose out of, and are wholly dependent upon the relinquishment statute, and her action thereunder. That she did not acquire title to that estate, or any part of it, or interest in the proceeds of a sale of it, either by that statute, or by anything she did, or could do under it, is now fully established according to the declaration of the law in Greene vs. Robison, 117 Tex. 516, 8 S.W.2d 655. It necessarily follows from the decision in Greene vs. Robison that the lease was from the State, and that it established the relation of lessor and lessee between the State, as lessor, and Marrs, and afterwards by assignment, the Gulf Production Company, as lessee. Being, in law, the only lessor of the mineral estate and all its incidents, the State is the only one who could maintain an action to avoid the transaction, even if good cause existed therefor.

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