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Moore v. Vines

Supreme Court of Texas
474 S.W.2d 437 (1971)


Facts

Ruby Vines and Troy Vines (defendant) acquired two tracts of land in 1941. In 1943, the Vineses issued an oil and gas lease to Fred Herschback. In 1951, the defendants issued a new oil and gas lease covering both tracts, Tract A and Tract B (1951 lease). The Vineses divorced in 1953. Ruby was awarded Tract A as her separate property, and Troy was awarded Tract B. The Vineses remarried in 1958 and executed a joint will, naming Ruby’s son, Hoyal Moore, and others (plaintiffs) as holding remaindermen interests in the land. Ruby died in 1959, giving Troy a life estate in Tract A under the terms of the will. The 1951 lease expired in 1961. In 1963, Troy, individually and as executor of the will, issued a new oil and gas lease to Pan American Petroleum Corporation (Pan Am) (defendant) on Tract A (1963 lease). The plaintiffs sued Troy and Pan Am, seeking a declaratory judgment construing Ruby’s will with respect to the rights on Tract A. The plaintiffs argued that the open mines doctrine did not apply to Pan Am’s 1963 lease on Tract A, rendering the 1963 lease void. The trial court disagreed and ruled in favor of Troy and Pan Am. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Steakley, J.)

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Dissent (McGee, J.)

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