X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1936, D.M. Warner and his wife Mary Warner conveyed 299.51 acres to their son E.D. Warner by deed. The description of the conveyance was as follows: “[A]ll that certain lot, tract, piece or parcel of land lying and being situated in Reeves County, State of Texas, and more particularly described as follows, to-wit: “Being the North one-half of Section No. 9, Block C, 20, Reeves County Public School Land, containing 320 acres; save and except, however, the following described tracts of land which have heretofore been sold and conveyed to the following named parties, to wit: “2.49 acres out of the Southwest 40 acres of said above described Section which was sold to the State of Texas for Highway purposes; “10 acres conveyed to Jack Ellison; 2 acres conveyed to Lawrence Martin; 2 acres sold to S.A. Bailey; 2 acres sold to Norman Ellison and 2 acres sold to Mr. Anderson, all of said last mentioned 18 acres being out of the Southeast forty acres of said above mentioned section; making a total of 299.51 acres hereby conveyed. Debra Warner Angell is E.D. Warner’s granddaughter and one of his successors in interest of the Reeves County property. Appellees are the heirs of S.A. Bailey and Jack Ellison. Although the deed records in Reeves County contain records of the Martin, Norman Ellison, C.D. Anderson and state conveyances, no recorded deeds exist for the remaining 10 acres purportedly conveyed to Jack Ellison or the two acres purportedly sold to Bailey. Neither Bailey nor Jack Ellison has ever made any use of the property. Despite a diligent search, no one located a record of Bailey, Jack Ellison or their successors’ interest in the Reeves County records. E.D. Warner’s decedents leased the property for mineral exploration for many years and have paid taxes on up to 308 acres of the described property for some time. Angell brought this suit in Reeves County to remove a cloud on the property’s title created by the unrecorded Jack Ellison and Bailey interests. Following a bench trial, the court below ruled in favor of Bailey and Jack Ellison. The trial court determined that the deed was unambiguous and ruled that the Ellison and Jack Bailey exceptions created a cotenancy between them and Angell. The court also estopped Angell from denying the titles of Ellison and Jack Bailey in the 12 acres at issue. In her sole issue for review, Angell asked the El Paso Court of Appeals to determine the effect of the Jack Ellison and Bailey exceptions in the E.D. Warner deed. Angell contended that the exceptions were void for lack of a sufficient description and that the 12 acres therefore passed to E.D. Warner. She argued first that the trial court erred by concluding that the exceptions were sufficiently described and that they created a co-tenancy between the parties to this appeal. Second, she argued that the trial court erred in applying the doctrine of estoppel by deed. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered in part, affirmed as modified in part, and remanded to the trial court. The court noted its agreement with the trial court’s interpretation of the Warner deed “to the extent that it held that the reference to”the above described Section’ within the third and forth paragraphs, as quoted above, necessarily refers only to the North half of Section No. 9, Block C, 20, Reeves County Public School Land.” The court also noted that “[i]t is also clear from the four corners of the Warner deed that the Bailey and Jack Ellison exceptions are located within the”southeastern-most’ forty acres of the North half of Section No. 9, Block C, 20. There is no evidence of a controversy over the title to the other 7/8ths (forty acres being 1/8th of one-half of a Section) of the North half.” Therefore, with the exception of the southeastern-most forty acres and the 2.49-acre conveyance to the state, the court found that the trial court erred in not removing the cloud on Angell’s title to seven-eighths of the affected one-half section. Applying the law of conveyances, the trial court determined that the references to Jack Ellison and Bailey created a co-tenancy with Angell. But the court held that the trial court’s reasoning on this point was error, because the plain language of the deed stated that the 12 acres at issue were excepted from the conveyance. It is clear, the court stated, that D.M. Warner did not intend to convey anything to Jack Ellison or Bailey by this instrument. The court stated that the language of the deed, to wit, “except . . . the following described tracts of land which have heretofore been sold and conveyed to . . . 10 acres conveyed to Jack Ellison; . . . 2 acres sold to S.A. Bailey . . . all of said last mentioned . . . acres being out of the Southeast forty acres of said above mentioned [parcel] . . .” sufficiently described the excepted interests. Specifically, it described two tracts previously conveyed by the grantors to Jack Ellison and Bailey. This dispute arose, the court stated, not because of any imprecision in the grantors’ exception language, but because Jack Ellison and Bailey never recorded their deeds. While the exceptions listed in the E.D. Warner deed, the court stated, did not create or convey any interest in the property which Bailey or Jack Ellison did not already possess, the court found that the exceptions were still effective to prevent Angell from denying their existence. Estoppel by deed, the court stated, stands for the general proposition that “all parties to a deed are bound by the recitals therein, which operate as an estoppel, working on the interest in the land if it be a deed of conveyance, and binding both parties and privies; privies in blood, privies in estate, and privies in law.” Therefore, the court found that although the trial court also erred by applying the law of conveyances to the Jack Ellison and Bailey exceptions, the trial court did not err in ruling that Angell was estopped to deny the existence of Jack Ellison’s and Bailey’s interests in the southeast one-fourth of the northeast one-fourth of the section, nor did it err in concluding that Angell, and Jack Ellison and Bailey were co-tenants of a portion of the deeded property. OPINION:Carr, J. Chew, C.J., and McClure and Carr, J.J.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.