On Feb. 3, 2017, the Supreme Court of Texas held that adjacent landowners were not mandatory parties to a lessor’s suit against the lessee for failure to make royalty payments if the adjacent landowners had not claimed any interest relating to the lawsuit. In short, “Rule 39 does not require joinder of persons who potentially could claim an interest in the subject of the action [pursuant to the strip-and-gore doctrine]; it requires joinder, in certain circumstances, of persons who actually claim such an interest.” Crawford v. XTO Energy, Inc., No. 15–0142, 2017 WL 461361, *5 (Tex. Feb. 3, 2017) (emphasis added).
The lessor, Crawford, owned approximately 146 acres of land in Tarrant County, Texas. In 1964, she conveyed the surface estate of about eight acres in fee simple, expressly reserving the oil and gas under the tract (Crawford Tract). In 1984, Crawford conveyed the property immediately north and south of the Crawford Tract without reserving the oil and gas, and most of that property was subdivided into residential lots. Continue Reading