Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
FROM THE 1A JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT JASPER COUNTY, TEXAS (Tr.
Ct. No. 34552)
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
Miller and Tobe Miller appeal from a summary judgment
rendered in favor of Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative, Inc.
in the Millers' suit for declaratory judgment. The
Millers raise three issues. We affirm.
Millers reside on a thirty-two acre tract of land in Jasper
County, Texas. Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative, Inc. is a
provider of electrical service. In 2005, Tobe Miller applied
for membership, and Jasper-Newton accepted the Millers as
members of the cooperative. Pursuant to their agreement,
Jasper-Newton provides electricity to the Millers'
2014, two Jasper-Newton employees entered the Millers'
property without providing prior notice to the Millers. The
Millers confronted the employees, and the employees contended
that they were within their rights to enter the Millers'
property. Later, Jasper-Newton ran an electric line from the
Millers' property to an adjoining property. The Millers
contended that Jasper-Newton lacked the authority to utilize
their property to provide electric service to others, and
Jasper-Newton disagreed. The Millers sued Jasper-Newton
seeking a declaratory judgment that Jasper-Newton held an
easement to use the Millers' property to provide electric
service only to the Millers and could not use the easement to
provide electric service to the property of
moved for summary judgment asserting that it had written
permission to perform the complained of activities.
Jasper-Newton contended that, by his execution of certain
documents, Tobe Miller granted Jasper-Newton the right to
construct and operate electrical lines on the Millers'
property without limitation of the use of the lines.
Jasper-Newton asserted that the Millers granted an express
easement to Jasper-Newton by submitting their 2005
Application for Membership and Electric Service and through
Jasper-Newton's Service Tariff which was incorporated by
reference. Finally, Jasper-Newton argued that Tobe Miller
also provided a Right-of-Way Easement to Jasper-Newton in
2007 that likewise authorized Jasper-Newton to utilize the
Millers' property to provide electric service to the
property of others.
Millers responded to Jasper-Newton's motion for summary
judgment and filed their own motion for summary judgment. The
Millers read the easements granted to Jasper-Newton as
allowing Jasper-Newton to construct and operate electrical
lines on the Millers' property with the limitation that
the lines provide electricity solely to the Millers'
property. Thus, the Millers continued to argue that
Jasper-Newton exceeded the scope of its easement when it ran
an electric line from the Millers' property to an
trial court granted Jasper-Newton's motion for summary
judgment and denied the Millers' motion for summary
judgment. The trial court then signed a final judgment
ordering that the Millers take nothing on their claims
against Jasper-Newton. This appeal followed.
their first issue, the Millers contend that, properly
construed, the easement granted to Jasper-Newton is limited
in scope, authorizing Jasper-Newton to provide utility
service only for the Millers' property. Accordingly, the
Millers argue that Jasper-Newton exceeded the scope of the
easement when it ran a power line from a pole located on the
Millers' property to deliver electrical services to an
declaratory judgment granted on a traditional motion for
summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Kachina Pipeline
Co. v. Lillis, 471 S.W.3d 445, 449 (Tex. 2015). A party
moving for traditional summary judgment bears the burden of
showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists and
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c). To determine if there is a fact issue,
we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant, crediting evidence favorable to the nonmovant if
reasonable jurors could do so, and ...