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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1930, a predecessor to Exxon Corp. executed an oil and gas lease on property owned by the Piercys. Exxon drilled and operated a number of wells on the land until mid-April 1990, when it assigned its lease to 4-Sight Operating Co. Allen Cook bought the surface estate from the Piercys in May 1994. He received notice of the oil and gas lease prior to closing, and the Piercys executed and delivered a general warranty deed to Cook. In March 2000, Cook filed suit against Exxon for breach of contract, negligence, excessive use, nuisance and trespass in connection with the abandoned oilfield equipment and structures left on his property, some of which Cook estimated dated back to before 1950. He also complained the ground was not level where some of the oil pits had been. The trial court granted Exxon’s motion for summary judgment, which alleged: 1. that there was no evidence Cook had standing to sue; 2. that Exxon had no tort or contract duty to Cook; 3. that Cook suffered no damages; 4. that the two-year statute of limitations barred any possible tort claim; and 5. that the four-year statute of limitations barred any possible contract claim. Cook appeals. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court says that the circumstances of this case are nearly identical to those in Denman v. Citgo Pipeline Co., 123 S.W.3d 728 (Tex.App. – Texarkana 2003, no pet.). In Denman, this court held that a landowner lacks standing to sue for injury to real property when any injury occurred before the landowner acquired the property, the deed does not contain an assignment of any cause of action, and there is no evidence of a new injury since the current landowner has owned the property. Similar rulings were issued by other courts in Exxon Corp. v. Pluff, 94 S.W.3d 22 (Tex.App. – Tyler 2002, pet. denied), and Senn v. Texaco Inc., 55 S.W.3d 222 (Tex.App. – Eastland 2001, pet. denied). As in those cases, Cook lacks standing to bring this action. The cause of action for an injury to property belongs to the person owning the property at the time of the injury, in this case, the Piercys. Cook tries to get out from under the application of those cases by arguing that subsequent owners do have standing when the injury is temporary, rather than permanent. The court agrees that there are significant differences between a permanent and temporary injury. For instance, a cause of action for a permanent injury accrues on the date of the injury, damages for temporary injuries may be recovered for the two years prior to filing suit. In determining the character of an injury as temporary, the court says a trial court should consider whether the injury is caused by irregular forces, and whether the injury-causing activity can be easily enjoined. While Cook did not present any evidence that the injury was caused by irregular forces such as rain or wind, he did present some evidence an injunction could abate the injury. Nonetheless, if the injury is temporary, Cook could only recover for new injuries sustained during the last two years. Even if the evidence produced by Cook that the injury can easily be removed is more than a scintilla of evidence that the injury is temporary, Cook must present evidence a new injury occurred while he has owned the land, which he has not done. The only damages he alleges are the decrease in land value; however, these damages were incurred when Exxon abandoned the equipment. “The trial court did not err in determining Cook lacked standing. Even if a landowner has standing to sue for a temporary injury to property which occurred before he or she owned the property, the landowner must still show that he or she has sustained a new injury since acquiring the property. Cook failed to present any evidence of a new injury since his acquisition. Therefore, regardless of whether the injury is permanent or temporary, Cook lacks standing to sue.” Nor does the court find any evidence that this is a continuing tort. OPINION:Carter, J.; Morriss, C.J., Ross and Carter, JJ.

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