Shell Oil Co. v. Ross (Tex. 2011)(Opinion)
FULL TEXT OF OPINION [ forthcoming ]
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OPINION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS BELOW: Court of Appeals
Also see: Texas Causes of Action | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams
Shell Oil Co. v. Ross, No. 10-0429 (Tex. Dec. 16, 2011)(Opinion by Lehrmann)
(oil, gas and natural resources law, limitations and discovery rule, fraudulent concealment, accrual of cause of action, starting
date for running of limitations)
EXCERPT FROM TEXAS SUPREME COURT'S OPINION
This case involves a dispute concerning alleged underpayments of gas royalty. We must decide
whether limitations barred a royalty owner’s claims against the operator of the field. We hold that the
fraudulent concealment doctrine does not apply to extend limitations as a matter of law when the royalty
underpayments could have been discovered from readily accessible and publicly available information
before the limitations period expired. When, as in this case, the information was publicly available and
readily accessible to the royalty owner during the applicable time period, a royalty owner who fails to
take action does not use reasonable diligence as a matter of law. It has long been the law that the
discovery rule does not apply to defer the accrual of royalty owners’ claims for underpayments
when the injury could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. Accordingly,
because the parties do not dispute that the pertinent information was readily accessible and publicly
available, the royalty owner’s claims are time-barred as a matter of law.
We hold that evidence conclusively established that Shell’s alleged fraud could have been discovered
by the Rosses through the exercise of reasonable diligence. Accordingly, we reverse the court of
appeals’ judgment and render judgment for Shell.
SHELL OIL COMPANY; SWEPI LP D/B/A SHELL WESTERN E&P, SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST TO SHELL WESTERN E&P, INC. v.
RALPH ROSS; from Harris County; 1st district (01-08-00713-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 02-25-10)
The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and renders judgment.
Justice Lehrmann delivered the opinion of the Court.
Link to Electronic Briefs in this case, including multiple amicus briefs: 10-0429 SHELL OIL CO. v. ROSS