Logourl black

Phillips Petroleum v. Shutts

United States Supreme Court
472 U.S. 797 (1985)


Phillips (defendant), a producer and seller of natural gas, extracted some of its gas from leased real property on which it paid royalties. Shutts (plaintiff), a royalty owner to the gas, brought a class action suit in a Kansas state court, alleging that Phillips had delayed royalty payments and was due interest payments on those delayed payments. The trial court certified a class consisting of 33,000 royalty owners. Shutts sent a letter via first-class mail to each class member. The letter advised each class member that he could appear in person or by counsel; otherwise each member would be represented by Shutts. The letter also advised each class member he could "opt out" of the class if he returned a document included with the notice entitled "request for exclusion.” The final class as certified contained 28,100 members. However, approximately 97 percent of those persons had no ties to Kansas with the exception of their interest in the royalty payments. Further, approximately 99 percent of the gas leases at issue had no connection to Kansas outside of the lawsuit. At trial, the Kansas court found Phillips liable for interest on the delayed royalty payments. Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court of Kansas, arguing that unless out-of-state plaintiffs affirmatively consent, Kansas courts may not exercise jurisdiction over their claims. The Supreme Court of Kansas affirmed the decision of the trial court. Phillips appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 91,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,498 briefs - keyed to 168 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now