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Mullinnix, LLC v. HKB Royalty Trust
Supreme Court of Wyoming
126 P.3d 909 (2006)
In 1944, Jerry and Effie Hickman conveyed a tract of land to Ed Willard but reserved “one-half of all oil and commercial gravel rights” in the land. Bernice Groves (plaintiff), the successor in interest to Willard, sued to quiet title in the property’s gas. John Hickman (defendant), the successor in interest to the Hickmans, filed a countersuit, claiming that he owned one-half of the gas, because by reserving “oil rights,” the Hickmans reserved the rights to all minerals. At trial, witnesses testified that at the time of the conveyance, the term “oil rights” was used in the industry to refer to all mineral rights. Witnesses also testified, however, that this trade usage was normally employed on an informal basis and that in formal documents such as deeds, parties were more specific with the minerals they were referencing. Groves presented as evidence deeds conveyed during the 1940s that specifically referenced both oil and gas. The trial court found in favor of Groves. Hickman appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kite, J.)
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