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Lessor entitled to judgment that oil and gas lease expired

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Partial summary judgment for the lessor was affirmed Wednesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals in a contract dispute involving an oil and gas lease of land in Sullivan County.

Owners of the land entered into the agreement with Maverick Energy Inc.’s predecessors as lessee. The original lease contained a Demand Clause and Advance Royalties Clause. Under the lease, Maverick had the option to either renew the lease each year by timely paying advance royalties or allow the lease to expire – considered an “unless” clause.

Maverick did not pay advance royalties for 2012 by the Jan. 3, 2012, deadline. Hoosier Energy informed Maverick in February that the lease had terminated because those royalties were not timely paid. Both sides sought judicial review of Maverick’s plans to begin drilling on the property. The trial court granted Hoosier Energy’s motion for partial summary judgment.

“Unless” clauses provide a lease will terminate automatically after the expiration of a specified term unless the lessee either drills or pays advance royalties by a prescribed date. But Maverick argued the Advance Royalties Clause in its contract is not a standard “unless” clause because it does not contain the words “terminate” or “unless.”

“Here, it is clear that the parties intended for the lease to continue year-to-year upon timely payment of advance royalties. The only reasonable interpretation of the Advance Royalties Clause is that if advance royalties were not timely paid, the lease would not continue, i.e., it would terminate,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote.

Maverick also argued that the Demand Clause required the lessor to issue a demand prior to terminating the lease for failure to timely pay advance royalties. But the language in the Demand Clause contemplates the existence of separate termination provisions set forth in the lease and unambiguously states that it does not supersede them, Friedlander pointed out.

“We conclude that the lease clearly and unambiguously provided that if Maverick had not begun paying production or shut-in gas royalties by the end of the initial term, the lease would continue year-to-year upon the timely payment of advance royalties. Because Maverick failed to timely pay advance royalties, the lease expired by its own terms and without the need for Hoosier Energy to issue a demand,” the court held in L.C. Neely Drilling, Inc. and Maverick Energy, Inc. v. Hoosier Energy Rural Electrical Cooperative, Inc., 49A02-1305-MI-457.  

 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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