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Russell v. Texas Co

    Brief Fact Summary. After Defendant acquired a mineral lease to Plaintiff’s property, it began making extensive use of both that property and adjacent lands also owned by Plaintiff. To recover for his property damages, Plaintiff gave Defendant a license to use the land, which incorporated a daily fee for use. Defendant ignored the license contending that it was not a term of its mineral lease, and that it did not accept it as a new agreement. Plaintiff brought suit for enforcement of the license.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. In this case, the court found that Defendant’s exercise of dominion over the land, through its continued use of both Section 23 and the adjacent areas, constituted an acceptance of Plaintiff’s offer.

    Facts. The Plaintiff, Russell (Plaintiff), acquired the ownership of a parcel of land, referred to by the court as “Section 23”. Section 23 had previously been owned by the Northern Pacific Railway Company, who retained the mineral rights to the land, when they sold it in 1918. The Defendant, the Texas Company (Defendant), leased the mineral rights from Northern Pacific and made daily use of Section 23 and adjacent lands owned by Plaintiff. The Plaintiff presented Texas Company with a license, asking that it pay $150 per day for the use of the land, which Texas Company ignored, later contending that it did not intend to accept this license. Plaintiff brought suit for fees collectable on the license. The trial court rendered Judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against the Defendant. The Defendant appealed this judgment, saying that it did nothing in acceptance of Plaintiff’s offer of licensure.

    Issue. This case presents the issue of whether a Defendant, in the act of exercising dominion over land through a valid lease, must pay reparation to the owner of the land, when the owner requests it.

    Held. Affirmed.
    The Court found that, per the principals of property law, Defendant overstepped the terms of its lease in exercising its rights on the sections of land adjacent to Section 23. Because their action was tortuous, in that it impinged in Plaintiff’s rights, the offer of licensure was valid and Defendant’s continued use of the land constituted a valid assent to the license agreement.

    Discussion. When an offeree exercises dominion over the object of an offer, his action is generally seen as acceptance.


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