Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from the 97th District Court Archer County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2018-0094A-CV
Sudderth, C.J.; Bassel and Womack, JJ.
case concerns adverse possession of an oil-and-gas leasehold
interest. In a single issue, Appellant Kevin Scribner
challenges the trial court's order and final judgment
granting summary judgment in favor of Appellees Randal
Wineinger, Individually and d/b/a Akins Oil Company, and
Parra Oil and Gas, Inc. on their affirmative defense of
adverse possession and Parra's claim of limitations title
(under the five-year statute). The trial court ordered that
Scribner take nothing on his claims for trespass to try
title, conversion, and trespass and declared that Parra was
the owner of the oil-and-gas leasehold interest.
does not dispute that the summary-judgment record establishes
that Appellees' predecessors in title obtained adverse
title to the leasehold interest before the conveyance of that
interest to Appellees. Scribner contends that Appellees
acknowledged his title in the lease at least three times when
they sought an assignment of that interest and that the
acknowledgements precluded any limitation title running in
their favor. But even assuming that the acknowledgments
occurred, they came too late to benefit Scribner because all
the acts necessary for Appellees' predecessors to obtain
adverse title and to divest Scribner of any claim to the
lease occurred before the claimed acknowledgments. The
acknowledgments did not stop the clock on the adverse claim
because the clock had already run out before they occurred.
also contends that Appellees' acknowledgements of his
title raised a fact issue on whether Appellees'
possession was adverse. An acknowledgement of title after the
statutory bar may constitute evidence showing that an adverse
claimant's possession was not adverse during the
limitations period because the possessor must intend to
appropriate the property. But that principle does not apply
here because Appellees did not possess the leasehold interest
during the limitations period. Accordingly, we affirm.
The parties proffer alternative contentions regarding
ownership of the leasehold interest.
1999, Scribner's father acquired an oil-and-gas leasehold
interest arising by virtue of an oil-and-gas lease recorded
in Archer County, Texas. The record reflects that
Scribner's father conveyed all the working interest in
the lease to him by virtue of a May 30, 2002 Assignment and
Bill of Sale (2002 Assignment) filed of record in Archer
County. Scribner contends that he did not know about the 2002
Assignment until 2016. He alleged that he had never
transferred the working interest to any other person or
entity and that he remains the owner.
contends that he previously held and Parra contends that it
currently holds superior title to the leasehold interest
because their predecessors acquired title through adverse
possession under the five-year statute. See Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 16.025. The
summary-judgment evidence shows that on March 29, 2010,
Louise Daniel, acting under the will of Scribner's father
(then deceased), assigned the working interest and lease to
Latigo Drilling, LLC (2010 Assignment). Appellees allege that
although Scribner was present when Daniel executed and
delivered the assignment of the lease to Latigo, Scribner did
not assert any ownership to the lease at that time.
record reflects that a series of individuals and entities
owned and assigned the leasehold interest following the 2010
• On October 8, 2010, Latigo assigned the working
interest to Hanaco LLC.
• On September 10, 2012, Hanaco assigned one-third of
the working interest to Duncan Oil Company, assigned
one-third of the working interest to Gary Grace d/b/a Grace
Services, and retained one-third of the working interest for
• On May 15, 2014, Grace assigned its one-third of the
working interest to A&G Operating, LLC.
• On June 13, 2016, Hanaco, Duncan, and A&G assigned
100% of the working interest to Wineinger and David Park, in
their individual capacities.
• On October 1, 2016, Wineinger and Park assigned the
working interest to Parra, a company in which they both own
assignments were recorded in Archer County.
to Appellees, Parra and each of its predecessors exclusively
operated the lease, received all revenue (less royalty) from
the lease, and paid all taxes attributable to the lease. They
assert that Scribner, on the other hand, did not participate
in the operations of the lease; did not make any expenditures
for the lease; did not receive any revenue from the lease;
and did not pay any taxes attributable to the lease.
2018, Scribner filed suit against Appellees asserting claims
for trespass to try title, trespass to real property, and
conversion. Scribner sought a determination that he holds
superior title to the working interest, an accounting, and an
award of damages. Appellees answered, asserting the
affirmative defense of perfection of title by adverse
possession under the five-year statute of limitations, citing
section 16.025 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
(five-year statute). Parra also counterclaimed for trespass
to try title, declaratory judgment, and suit to quiet title,
seeking a declaration that it has a superior title by
Appellees moved for summary judgment on Scribner's claims
and Parra's counterclaims, arguing that their
predecessors acquired limitation title by adverse possession
under the five-year statute.
moved for traditional summary judgment, arguing that
Scribner's claims were precluded by their
predecessors' adverse possession and that Parra was the
rightful, current owner of the leasehold interest. Appellees
argued that the summary-judgment evidence satisfied each
element of the five-year statute and that after tacking or
stringing together all periods of possession of their
predecessors since April 2010 (when Latigo began operating
the lease), they had adversely possessed the lease by April
2015, and Scribner's claimed ownership in and right to
possess the property had terminated in April 2015.
requested that the trial court enter a judgment that Scribner
take nothing on his trespass-to-try-title claim, arguing the
evidence established the affirmative defense of limitations
under the five-year statute as a matter of law. They also
requested that the trial court enter a judgment that Scribner
take nothing on his trespass and conversion claims, arguing
that the evidence established that they had adversely
possessed the lease in April 2015 under the five-year
statute, thereby dispensing with the essential elements of
these claims relating to Scribner's ownership or rights
to possession. Parra also requested summary judgment on its
counterclaims for trespass to try title, declaratory
judgment, and suit to quiet title, arguing that the evidence
established all elements to each counterclaim based on the
evidence establishing title through adverse possession under
the five-year statute.
Scribner opposed summary judgment by arguing that Appellees
acknowledged his title to the lease, precluding limitations
from running in Appellees' favor and evidencing that
their possession at any time was not adverse.
response to Appellees' motion, Scribner argued that there
was "a genuine issue of material fact as to who owns the
working interest" that precluded summary judgment.
Scribner cited Tex-Wis Co. v. Johnson, 525 S.W.2d
232 (Tex. App.-Waco 1975), aff'd on other
grounds, 534 S.W.2d 895 (Tex. 1976), for the proposition
that a defendant's offer to buy land constitutes an
acknowledgment in title in the plaintiff that precludes
limitations from running in favor of the defendant and is
evidence tending to show that any possession by the defendant
is not adverse to the plaintiff. Scribner argued that
Appellees acknowledged title in him when they contacted him
at least three times to request that he execute a proposed
assignment of his interests.
Billy Elder is an attorney who represented Parra in June 2016
in connection with Parra's acquisition of leasehold
interests in several leases situated in Archer County,
including the lease at issue. In connection with that work,