Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v. St. Martin

The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court involved mineral rights and royalties associated with a production well located on a certain tract of land owned by the plaintiffs in Terrebonne Parish. Two conveyances were at issue: a 1966 mineral deed and a 1992 cash sale. The plaintiffs asserted the 1966 mineral deed did not create a valid mineral servitude and, consequently, sought to be declared as owning 100% of the mineral rights since their purchase of the subject property by act of cash sale in 1992, and demanded to be awarded the royalties due from June 29, 1997, until the well stopped producing sometime in 2001 or 2002. Plaintiffs further asserted a violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act based on the allegation that various acts of the defendants amounted to a tortious conspiracy to deprive the plaintiffs of the royalties due them. The trial court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, finding the 1966 deed did not create a valid servitude over the subject property, plaintiffs were the owners of the mineral rights as of the 1992 purchase, and the defendants’ conduct amounted to unfair trade practices. The appellate court reversed and vacated the judgment, finding that the 1966 mineral deed had created a valid mineral servitude and that the 1992 act of cash sale had placed the plaintiffs on notice that the mineral rights to the property had been previously conveyed. The appellate court then remanded the case for consideration of the remaining issues associated with any rights the plaintiffs may have acquired from settlements with predecessor mineral interest owners in 2001 and 2005. After its review of the case, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal: the 1966 mineral deed was sufficiently specific to identify the property to be conveyed and, thus, to create a valid mineral servitude and to place third parties on notice of the existence of that servitude. Plaintiffs did not acquire the mineral rights to the subject property via the 1992 warranty deed. Furthermore, the actions of the defendants did not rise to the level of an unfair trade practice within the meaning of the act. View "Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v. St. Martin" on Justia Law