Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CLAMPITT v. PONDER

June 29, 1950

CLAMPITT ET AL.
v.
PONDER ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

  By complaint filed February 10, 1950, the plaintiffs seek a construction of a reservation contained in a warranty deed executed by I.O. Ponder, deceased, and the defendant, S.E. Ponder, her surviving husband. Also, the plaintiffs ask that, if the court is unable to construe the reservation as having expired with the expiration of the oil and gas lease in effect at the time the deed was executed, the court construe the reservation to be what is commonly referred to as a nonparticipating perpetual royalty interest.

The defendants, on March 7, 1950, filed an answer and cross-complaint in which they admit that the plaintiffs are the owners of the land described in the complaint, except an undivided one-half of the oil, gas and other minerals in and under said land. The defendants admit that they are claiming to be the owners of an undivided one-half interest in the oil, gas and other minerals in the land by virtue of the reservation contained in the deed. In their cross-claim, the defendants allege that, at the time the deed was executed by I.O. Ponder and the defendant, S.E. Ponder, the surviving husband of I.O. Ponder, now deceased, the meaning of the term, royalty, had no "clear, definite meaning to the ordinary layman, or even to most lawyers, as it now has but was used loosely and synonymously with `minerals'", that it was the intention of the grantors in the deed to the plaintiff, Clampitt, and was so understood by the plaintiff that the grantors, I.O. Ponder and the defendant, S.E. Ponder, her surviving husband, were reserving an undivided one-half interest in in the oil, gas and other minerals in and upon the land, and that the deed should be reformed so as to reflect the true intentions of the parties thereto.

By reply filed March 22, 1950, the plaintiffs deny that it was the intention of I.O. Ponder and the defendant, S.E. Ponder, as her surviving husband, to reserve from the grant contained in the deed under which plaintiffs claim all the oil, gas and other minerals in the lands, and further deny that there has been any change in the meaning of the word, "royalty," to the ordinary layman or to most lawyers since the execution of the said deed, and deny that the said term, "royalty," in said deed was used loosely and synonymously with minerals.

On June 12, 1950, the defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 12(c), 28 U.S.C.A., and for summary judgment under rule 56(a). The plaintiffs responded to the motion, and on the same date the court entered an order overruling the motion for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment. Thereupon, the cause proceeded to trial to the court, without a jury, and at the conclusion of the trial the attorneys for the respective parties requested an opportunity to furnish briefs in support of their respective contentions. The plaintiffs were given five days in which to file their brief and the defendants were given five days thereafter in which to file their brief, and plaintiffs were given an additional five days thereafter in which to file a reply brief, if they so desired. Said briefs have been received and considered by the court, along with the pleadings, the ore tenus testimony and exhibits, and the court now makes and files herein its formal Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, separately stated:

Findings of Fact

1.

The plaintiff, F.L. Clampitt, is a citizen and resident of the State of Louisiana and plaintiff, John T. Harley, is a resident and citizen of the State of Oklahoma. The defendants are all residents of Union County, Arkansas.

The amount involved herein exceeds in value the sum of $3,000.00, exclusive of interest and costs.

2.

Prior to December 29, 1920, the plaintiff, F.L. Clampitt, became acquainted with the defendant, S.E. Ponder, and wife, I. O. Ponder, now deceased. At that time the Ponders were living on a farm other than the land involved herein. A few days before December 24, 1920, the plaintiff, Clampitt, called upon the defendant, S.E. Ponder, who at that time was working in one of the fields on the land involved. The plaintiff stated that he desired to buy some land in that area, which is approximately sixteen miles southwest of the City of El Dorado, Arkansas. He was advised by the defendant, S.E. Ponder, that the tract on which he was working contained two-hundred acres and was owned by his wife, I.O. Ponder, but that they would sell the same to him for a consideration of $2,500.00, $500.00 of which was to be paid in cash and the balance to be evidenced by notes of $500.00 each, one of which was to be paid each year with interest until all were paid.

The testimony does not disclose whether the plaintiff, Clampitt, talked to Mrs. Ponder at that time, but apparently he returned to his home and claims to have written S.E. Ponder a letter containing an offer to purchase the land. Neither the letter nor a copy of it was introduced in evidence, but there was introduced in evidence a letter addressed to the plaintiff, Clampitt, dated December 24, 1920, signed by the defendant, S.E. Ponder, reading as follows:

"As offered in your letter of 20th inst. I will accept as settlement for tract of 240 acres of land a cash payment of $500. and four notes of $500. each, payable annually, with 8% interest.

"I, of course, will retain half of the royalty; — that is one sixteenth. Awaiting your reply, I am

"Very truly,

/s/ S.E. Ponder".

The testimony does not disclose any reply by plaintiff, Clampitt, to Ponder's letter of December 24, 1920, but on December 29, 1920, a warranty deed was executed by I.O. Ponder in which her husband, the defendant, S.E. Ponder, joined, under the terms of which the grantor, I.O. Ponder, conveyed to the plaintiff, F.L. Clampitt, and unto his heirs and assigns the N 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of Section 16; the N 1/2 of SW 1/4 of Section 15 and the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Section 15, all in Township 19 South, Range 18 West, in Union County, Arkansas, and containing two-hundred acres, more or less.

Immediately following the description of the land and as a part of the granting clause of the deed appears the following: "I, I.O. Ponder, hereby reserve one half royalty of all oil, gas and other minerals on the above described land."

The defendant, S.E. Ponder, joined with his wife in the execution of the deed and it and the blank notes were sent to the Central State Bank in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where the deed and notes remained until January 31, 1921, at which time the cash payment of $500.00 was made, the notes executed and the deed was delivered to the plaintiff, F.L. Clampitt.

The plaintiff, John T. Harley, paid one-half of the cash payment and apparently assumed payment of one-half of the notes, and the plaintiff, F.L. Clampitt, and wife executed and delivered to the plaintiff, Harley, their warranty ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.