Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
Beatrice J. Janacek JARZOMBEK, Phillip Janacek, Ben J. Janacek, Kathryn M. Janacek Vajdos, Lawrence J. Janacek, Margaret R. Janacek Ryan, Sister Rebecca Janacek, and Timothy E. Janacek, Appellants
MARATHON OIL COMPANY, Don Kuhnel, Patricia Kuhnel, Jason Swafford, and Charlene Swafford, Appellees
the 218th Judicial District Court, Karnes County, Texas Trial
Court No. 18-01-00016-CVK Honorable Stella Saxon, Judge
Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez,
Justice Liza A. Rodriguez, Justice
PATRICIA O. ALVAREZ, JUSTICE
deed construction case, Appellants argue the deed's
"subject to," "for all purposes," and
"heirs and assigns" (rather than "heirs or
assigns") language reserved the possibility of reverter
to the grantors. We conclude the deed's plain language,
when read in light of Texas case law, does not support
Appellants' proposed construction. We affirm the trial
case involves two deeds: a partition deed in 1965 and a
general warranty deed in 1976. The language of both deeds is
relevant. The 1976 Deed is of primary concern, and it
references the 1965 Deed.
1965, Ben and Olga Janacek purchased seventy acres of land
from Olga's parents' estate via a partition deed (the
1965 Deed). Ben and Olga wanted to purchase the property in
fee simple, but they could not afford to buy out the entire
mineral estate. Thus, the 1965 Deed conveyed the executive
interest, lease money, delay rentals, and bonus money to Ben
and Olga, but it partitioned "the royalty interest in
and to the oil, gas and other minerals in and under the
land" by reserving an "undivided one-fifth
interest" to Olga and each of her four siblings. The
royalty reservation would end after a term of twenty years
unless there was ongoing production in paying quantities. The
possibility of reverter was conveyed to Ben and Olga.
1976, Ben and Olga conveyed the seventy acres of land and
some or all of their mineral interests to Max and Bennye
Swafford. The parties do not dispute the surface estate
conveyance, but they disagree on what mineral interests the
1976 Deed conveyed.
1976 Deed has eight major paragraphs. The underlines below
show the language the Janaceks emphasize. The first three
paragraphs identify the grantors, the grantees, and the
consideration. The fourth paragraph describes the real
property that is conveyed.
fifth paragraph states as follows:
Such conveyance is subject, however, to all
mineral conveyances, mineral reservations, oil, gas and other
mineral leases, royalty conveyances, or reservations,
easements, ordinances and rights-of-way of record in the
office of the County Clerk of Karnes County, Texas.
The sixth paragraph consists of an introduction and three
In addition to the above exceptions this conveyance is
subject to the following:
1. Right-of-way Easement . . . .
2. Road Deed . . . .
3. Four-fifths (4/5ths) royalty interest, the royalties,
bonuses, rentals and all other rights described in [the 1965
Deed], reference to which instrument is here made for all
purposes, together with all rights, express or implied in and
to the property covered by this policy arising out of or
connected with said interests and conveyance.
The seventh paragraph provides the warranty:
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the above described premises, subject
to the above set forth exceptions and reservations,
together with all and singular the rights and appurtenances
thereto and in anywise belonging unto the said MAX E.
SWAFFORD and wife, BENNYE SWAFFORD, their heirs, and assigns,
forever; and we do hereby bind ourselves, our heirs,
executors and administrators to WARRANT and FOREVER DEFEND,
subject to the above set forth exceptions and
reservations, all and singular the said premises unto the
said MAX E. SWAFFORD and wife, BENNYE SWAFFORD, their heirs
and assigns against every person whomsoever lawfully claiming
or to claim the same or any part thereof.
The eighth paragraph pertains to the vendor's lien and
does not affect the analysis.
1999, after other conveyances, the seventy acres were
divided. The present owners are Donald and Patricia Kuhnel,
who own 37.8 acres, and Jason and Charlene Swafford, who own
the remaining 32.2 acres. The 1999 deeds are not in dispute.