K. Kishi versus Humble Oil and Refining Company
[Rhonda Ross: 261 S.W. 228; 276 S.W. 190; 291 S.W. 538; 299 S.W. 687]
There was a landmark court case that Kishi brought against Humble Oil and Refining Company, filed on April 2, 1923. Kishi had a 50-acre tract of land near Orangefield, on which he had three-fourths of the mineral rights. He leased the parcel to Humble Oil for three years starting on December 23, 1919. Humble Oil maintained the lease but did not do any drilling during the three years. A producing well in an adjoining tract 150 feet distant was brought on production on January 22, 1923. This suddenly added great value to Kishi's 50-acre tract. On the following day, Humble moved a drilling rig on the 50 acres and began drilling. Humble claimed that the lease had not expired since it was less than three years from the date the contract was signed by I. Lang, who held the one-fourth share of the mineral rights. Lang had delivered the contract to the oil company on January 29, 1920. Kishi protested against the entry, and advised Humble Oil that he would hold it responsible for any damages. Humble Oil remained and finished drilling the well. After no oil was found, Humble relinquished possession on May 10, 1923. The 50-acre tract was then worthless as an oil property.
Kishi, represented by E. L. Reid, sued Humble Oil and Refining Company for trespass and requested damages for the resulting loss of the value of the lease. The court decided that a contract runs from the date that it bears, and not from the date it was delivered. Lessee’s entry after expiration of his lease and assertion of exclusive right to possession and development of the land for oil and gas was a wrongful ouster of owner, and a trespass, entitling owner to recover such damages as he suffered. Trial was before the court without a jury, and judgment rendered for plaintiff for $1 and costs. The case was appealed and reversed on various points in 1924, 1925 and February 1927. The case finally settled in Kishi’s favor on November 15, 1927. The damages awarded to Kishi were $28,125.