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Person v. Denbury Onshore, LLC

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 17, 2013

Bill PERSON, Appellant
v.
DENBURY ONSHORE, LLC, A Delaware Limited Liability Company, Appellee.

Page 811

Wayne Dowdy, Magnolia, Dunbar Watt, attorneys for appellant.

William F. Blair, Eric L. Patterson, Jackson, attorneys for appellee.

Before IRVING, P.J., CARLTON and JAMES, JJ.

IRVING, P.J.

¶ 1. Bill Person sued Denbury Onshore LLC (Denbury) to recover certain royalties allegedly due him. The Pike County Chancery Court, finding that Person's claims were subject to res judicata and were barred by the statute of limitations, entered a final judgment of dismissal in favor of Denbury. Person filed a motion for reconsideration, which the chancery court denied. Feeling aggrieved, Person appeals and argues that the chancery court erred in finding that his claims were barred by res judicata and the statute of limitations.

¶ 2. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶ 3. In 1958, R.C. Crabb Jr. transferred his mineral interests and right to royalty payments in certain lands located in Pike County, Mississippi, to W.A. Livingston. In 1982, Livingston transferred the mineral interests and right to royalty payments, which he had acquired from Crabb, to Barry Cooper. One month after this conveyance, Cooper sold a portion of his interests to Person, the appellant. Person allegedly acquired the remainder of Cooper's mineral interests from Cooper's widow, Bessie Mae Cooper, in 1998. All of Person's mineral interests in Pike County are " derived from, and described in, the transfer from [Crabb] to [Livingston]."

¶ 4. Included in the mineral interests that Person acquired from the Coopers are oil fields known as Little Creek Field Unit (Little Creek), West Little Creek Field Unit (West Little Creek), and West Lazy Creek Field Unit (West Lazy Creek), all of

Page 812

which are located in Pike County. In 1985, Shell Oil leased Person's mineral interests in Little Creek and began making royalty payments to him. Shell Oil sold its interests in Little Creek to the J.P. Oil Company in 1996. J.P. Oil continued to tender royalty payments to Person until it sold its interests in Little Creek to Denbury in 1998. Denbury tendered monthly royalty payments to Person until July 2007, when Denbury suspended Person's royalty payments because the Crabb-to-Livingston conveyance allegedly failed to contain sufficient " words of grant." Therefore, according to Denbury, Person did not have a valid interest in Little Creek.

¶ 5. In 2001 and 2002, Person leased his mineral interests in West Little Creek and West Lazy Creek to Denbury, respectively, signing a total of three leases that allowed Denbury to drill on each plot that Person owned in West Little Creek and West Lazy Creek. Person alleges that Denbury fraudulently induced him into signing these leases, as Denbury intended to immediately suspend any royalty payments owed to Person as a result of his mineral interests in West Little Creek and West Lazy Creek. However, Person received royalty payments for his interests in West Little Creek and West Lazy Creek until 2007.

¶ 6. In January 2008, Person filed suit, Cause No. 2008-18 ( Person I ), against Denbury in the Pike County Chancery Court, alleging that Denbury " wrongfully suspended [his] royalty payments" for his interests in Little Creek, West Little Creek, and West Lazy Creek. Denbury claimed that the Crabb-to-Livingston conveyance was ineffective. Person charged Denbury with bad faith, a violation of trust, and breach of contract; and he sought a declaratory judgment that the Crabb-to-Livingston conveyance was valid. He also sought an ...


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