United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
ORDER AND OPINION
KIMBERLY C. PRIEST JOHNSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. 49). Plaintiffs filed a Response (Dkt. 54).
Defendant filed a Reply (Dkt. 59), and Plaintiffs filed a
Sur-Reply (Dkt. 60). The Court held a hearing on the matter
on April 20, 2017, and the Court allowed the parties to file
supplemental briefing regarding the application of the
discovery rule under Texas law in this case (Dkt. 62). Both
parties filed supplemental briefs (Dkts. 66, 67). For the
following reasons, the Court finds Defendant's motion
(Dkt. 49) is DENIED.
matter involves a claim for trespass and concerns the
existence and placement of a pipeline and easement on a
seventeen (17) acre tract of land in Denton County, Texas
(the “Property”). See Dkt. 48 at 6. In
1948, the then-owners of the Property granted an easement
(the “Easement”) to Sinclair Refining Company to
install and operate a petroleum products pipeline (the
“Pipeline”) on the Property, which was then a
part of a larger tract of land. See Id. at 7. Both
ownership of the Property and rights under the Pipeline and
the Easement passed to other parties several times in the
subsequent decades. See id.
2001, the owners of the larger tract of land on which the
Property was located, D-F Funds GP, LLC (“D-F
Funds”), and the holders of the Easement at that time,
Citgo Products Pipeline Company (“Citgo”),
entered into an amendment to the Easement that allegedly
relocated the Easement off the Property to another portion of
the then-owner's land (the “Amendment”) (Dkt.
48-7 at 11-13). Based on a review of the survey by Plaintiffs
and of title documents by their real estate professionals,
Plaintiffs purchased the Property in 2007 with the
understanding that several easements previously located on
the Property had been abandoned or moved, including the
Easement. See Dkt. 48-1 at 1-2. Defendant purchased
the Pipeline and the rights of the Easement in late 2007,
after Plaintiffs purchased the Property. See Dkt.
48-7 at 8.
around 2014, Plaintiffs began negotiating to sell the
Property, along with other adjacent tracts of land as part of
the same purchase, to JBGL Chateau, LLC (“JBGL”).
See Dkt. 48-1 at 2. The parties to the transaction
learned from JBGL's engineers that a pipeline might be
located on the Property, and it was later confirmed. See
Id. Plaintiffs demanded that Defendant remove the
Pipeline, but Defendant refused to do so. See Id.
Plaintiffs and JBGL adjusted the purchase price of the
Property and amended their sales contract to reflect a sales
price reduced by approximately $805, 000.00. See Id.
On December 1, 2015, Plaintiffs closed on the sale of the
Property. See Id. at 3. On November 25, 2015,
Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant for damages resulting
from the reduction in purchase price. See Dkt. 5.
Defendant removed the case to federal court based on
diversity jurisdiction. See Dkt. 1.
February 1, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion requesting the
Court to designate a date for Plaintiffs' damages
analysis. See Dkt. 39 at 4-6. On February 14, 2017,
the Court ordered the parties to confer on the issue of the
Court designating a date for the damages analysis.
See Dkt. 44 at 2. If the parties could not agree to
a date, the parties were ordered to file a motion for summary
judgment limited to the issue of the damages analysis.
See Id. On February 22, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a
motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. 48). On February
27, 2017, Defendant filed a response (Dkt. 52). On March 1,
2017, Plaintiffs filed a reply (Dkt. 53). The Court entered
an order on March 13, 2017, finding the appropriate date for
the damages analysis to be February 5, 2001. See
February 22, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. 49), claiming that Plaintiffs' trespass
claim is barred by the statute of limitations. On March 8,
2017, Plaintiffs filed a Response (Dkt. 54). On March 15,
2017, Defendant filed a Reply (Dkt. 59). On March 21, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed a Sur-Reply (Dkt. 60). On April 27, 2017,
following a hearing on the matter, the parties submitted
supplemental briefing regarding the application of the
discovery rule under Texas law (Dkts. 66, 67).
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law.” Rule 56(c) mandates
the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for
discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make
a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986).
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material fact. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48
(1986). A fact is “material” if a dispute over it
might affect the outcome of a suit under governing law;
factual disputes that are “irrelevant or
unnecessary” do not affect the summary judgment
determination. See Id. at 248. An issue is
“genuine” if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. See id.
has offered the following summary judgment evidence in
support of its motion:
1. Sworn Deposition of Stephen Williams, Plaintiff's
corporate representative (Dkt. 49-1);
2. Sworn Deposition of Sean Shropshire, who conducted and
authored 2007 surveys of the Property (Dkt. 49-2);
3. Sworn Deposition of William Anderson, civil engineer
engaged by Plaintiffs to develop the Property (Dkt. 49-3);
4. Sworn Deposition of William Sanders, representative of
Defendant (Dkt. 49-4);
5. Sworn Deposition of Laura Keith, former attorney of D-F
Funds (Dkt. 49-5);
6. Certified copy of original Right of Way Easement from 1948
7. Certified copy of the Amendment (Dkt. 49-7);
8. Certified copy of the 1998 Special Warranty Deed by which
D-F Funds acquired the ...