Estoppel, in the nature of an equitable concept, is designed to protect the reliances and expectations of innocent persons from detrimental devastation by those who by assent and recognition have induced those reliances and expectations.
Appellant landowner's property was subject to a reservation of mineral rights in favor of appellee railroad. Pursuant to an oil and gas lease granted by appellee railroad, appellee corporation conducted extensive operations on appellant's land. Appellant filed a lawsuit seeking damages from appellee corporation and to void appellee railroad's mineral right reservation and the subsequent oil and gas lease to appellee corporation. The district court upheld appellee railroad's mineral rights reservation but ruled against appellee corporation with respect to damages for use of the land under a revocable license. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
Is appellant estopped from denying the validity of the mineral reservation?
The appellant was estopped from asserting that the mineral rights passed to him in the deed because he claimed no independent source of title to the mineral rights. The court also held that the district court's valuation of appellant's surface rights was proper because compensation for use and occupancy of land was measured by the value that the owner could have obtained from what he was able to offer on the market, and appellant had to right to offer the land on the market for mineral exploitation.