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Jarzombek v. Ramsey

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

June 14, 2017

Clement JARZOMBEK and Lynette Jarzombek, Appellants
v.
Ronald Craig RAMSEY Jr., Appellee

         From the 81st Judicial District Court, Karnes County, Texas Trial Court No. 13-09-00181-CVK Honorable Donna S. Rayes, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Marialyn Barnard, Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.

          OPINION

          Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice.

         Clement and Lynette Jarzombek appeal a final judgment incorporating an order granting a partial summary judgment in favor of Ronald Craig Ramsey Jr. In the order granting the partial summary judgment, the trial court ruled that all of the Jarzombeks' claims against Ramsey were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The order became final after all of the remaining parties' claims were dismissed or nonsuited.

         The sole issue presented on appeal is whether the trial court erred in concluding the discovery rule was not applicable to toll the statute of limitations on the Jarzombeks' cause of action for deed reformation. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         In this appeal, we must decide whether the discovery rule applies in this case where the terms of the deed differ from the terms in the associated contract for sale. Here, the Jarzombeks owned the surface estate to two tracts of land consisting of approximately 62.6 acres (Tract 1) and 64.8 acres (Tract 2). With regard to the mineral estates, the Jarzombeks owned only a 1/16th royalty interest in Tract 1, but they owned the entire mineral estate in Tract 2.

         On August 21, 2006, the Jarzombeks and Ramsey executed a real estate contract in which Ramsey agreed to purchase the surface estate of both tracts. With regard to the mineral estates, the contract provided as follows:

Seller to keep 1/2 of the mineral and royalty interest that he currently owns for a period of 20 years. If there is production of minerals during this period, then the seller will continue to receive the royalties as long as there is production. Seller to convey 1/2 of the mineral and royalty interest that he owns to buyer at closing.

         At the closing of the sale on November 16, 2006, the Jarzombeks signed a warranty deed prepared by their attorney, which conveyed both tracts to Ramsey with the following reservation:

SAVE and EXCEPT, and there is hereby reserved unto Grantor, Grantor's heirs and assigns, an undivided one-thirty-second (1/32) royalty interest in and to all of the oil, gas and other minerals in and under and that may be produced from the above described property, being one-half of the interest owned by the Grantor. It is understood and agreed that Grantor, Grantor's heirs and assigns, shall not participate in the making of any oil, gas or mineral lease covering said property, nor shall Grantor participate in any bonus or bonuses which may be paid for any such lease, nor shall Grantor participate in any rental or shut-in gas well royalty to be paid under any such lease.
The interest hereby excepted and reserved shall continue in effect for twenty (20) years from the date of this Deed and as long thereafter as oil, gas and other minerals, or any of them, is produced or mined from the land described in this Deed, or from land with which any interest in the land described herein is validly pooled, whether or not in paying quantities.

         The deed was filed in the real property records.

         On September 3, 2013, the Jarzombeks sued Ramsey and several other defendants for numerous causes of action, including a cause of action for deed reformation, alleging the deed contained an error as a result of either a mutual mistake or a unilateral mistake accompanied by inequitable conduct by Ramsey. Ramsey's answer asserted the affirmative defense of statute of limitations, and Ramsey subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment asserting the Jarzombeks' claims against him were barred by limitations. The Jarzombeks' filed a response to Ramsey's motion, asserting the discovery rule tolled the statute of limitations. As previously noted, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Ramsey, and the Jarzombeks appeal.

         Standard of Review

         We review a grant of a summary judgment de novo. Nassar v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 508 S.W.3d 254, 257 (Tex. 2017). "[W]e take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, and we indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor." Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex. 2003)). To succeed on a traditional motion for summary judgment, the movant must establish "there is no genuine issue as to any material ...


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