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An action for trespass upon real property must be brought within two years after the cause of action shall have accrued. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 95(A)(3). A cause of action accrues at the time when a plaintiff first could have maintained his action to a successful conclusion.
Max Oil Company and Max, Rebecca, and Joe Hawkins (Hawkins Family) sued Range Production Company LLC and Range Resources-Midcontinent LLC (collectively Range), alleging Range's oil and gas drilling operations permanently damaged their producing oil and gas wells. The district judge dismissed the petition with prejudice as time-barred. Max Oil and the Hawkins argued that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until they eliminated other causes for the damage and that they should have been granted leave to amend their petition.
Was the complaint filed by the Hawkins Family time-barred?
The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that the trespass claim brought by the Family was time-barred under Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 95(A)(3) because it was brought more than two years after the owners had good reason to believe that another company's drilling operations had encroached into the well formations and caused damage. The Court further held that their nuisance claim was also untimely because they failed to allege that the nuisance and the damages arising therefrom were temporary or abatable. The allegations instead pointed to the nuisance and damages as permanent, and hence, the statute began to run at such time as the nuisance became obvious and apparent that the land in question had been permanently damaged.