When clear contract language itself reveals the intent of the parties, there is no need to turn to rules of construction.
Appellant landowner received title to land in which the predecessor in title had granted an easement to appellee coal company. The easement provided for a pipeline to be used for the transportation of coal slurry. The easement contained a defeasance clause that provided for termination of the easement if the pipeline was not used for its intended use. Subsequently, the pipeline was placed in an inactive state, but under the easement it was maintained in a stand-by mode ready to go into operation as soon as practicable. Appellant filed a motion to terminate the easement and the trial court held that the easement was not terminated. Appellants challenged the ruling.
Was the easement supposed to be terminated when the pipeline was placed in an inactive state for a period in excess of that outlined in the easement?
The court held that when the pipeline was deactivated, the defeasance clause should have been given its intended effect. The court found that the language of the clause was clear and unambiguous and that the intent of the parties was to terminate the easement if the transmission of coal slurry ceased for a year.