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Glassell Producing Co., Inc. v. Naquin

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

July 5, 2017


         Appealed from the 17th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Lafourche, Louisiana Trial Court Number 126754 Honorable John LeBlanc, III, Judge

          Daniel A. Cavell Thibodaux, Louisiana Attorney for Appellants Defendants - Anita Gonzales, et al.

          Raymond A. Beyt Aaron D. Beyt Lafayette, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellees Plaintiffs - Glassell Producing Company, et al.

          Woody Falgoust Cassie Rodrigue Braud Thibodaux, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellee Defendant - Carol Naquin Boudreaux


          WELCH, J.

         The defendants/appellants, Shelia Richard Breaux, Angela Richard White, Ernie Richard, Jr., Travis Richard, Rene J. Durocher, Leo Durocher, Anita Maxwell Gonzales, and Laurie M. Bergeron, appeal a trial court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, Glassell Producing Company, Inc., Clare Attwell Glassell, widow of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., Alfred C. Glassell, III, as trustee under the last will and testament of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., and Woodrow A. Holland and John M. Robb, as co-trustees of the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. Children's Trust for Jean Curry Glassell under the Last Will and Testament of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr.[1] For reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the matter for further proceedings.


         The instant appeal arises out of a concursus action involving a dispute over royalty payments due under a mineral lease. Junius A. Naquin, Carol Naquin Boudreaux, and Dolores Naquin Richard Durocher, were siblings, and each inherited an undivided one-third (1/3) interest in their father's one-sixteenth (1/16) interest in and to the following property:

That certain tract or parcel of land containing thirty-one (31) acres, more or less, being situated in the West Half of the East Half of the Southeast Quarter (W/2 of E/2 of SE/4) of Section 57, Township 15 South, Range 15 East, Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, being bounded now or formerly as follows: North by Dewey Adams, East by the heirs of Joseph A. Adams, South by Lyric Realty & Parking Company and West by Joseph V. Roger, et al, and being the same lands acquired by virtue of that deed dated March 18, 1902, recorded under the COB 37, Page 694, Records of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, executed by Cletus Adam in favor of Garciena Adam Naquin, wife of Octave Naquin.[2] ("property")

         The history of the property reveals that in 1947, the siblings' ancestor-in-title granted a mineral lease covering the one-sixteenth (1/16) property interest to S.P. Benckenstein ("1947 lease"). The 1947 lease provided for a one-eighth (1/8) reserved landowner's royalty. Production under the 1947 lease commenced shortly thereafter from the ROB 2 RE SUA; C.J. Caulon No. 6 Well.

         The 1947 lease was in effect when Carol, Junius, and Dolores inherited their interests in the property. Thus, they each acquired title to the property subject to the mineral lease that granted each sibling a one-third (1/3) interest in one-sixteenth (1/16) of the property subject to a one-eighth (1/8) royalty under the 1947 lease. Expressed in decimal form, each party acquired a one-third (1/3) interest in a .00781255 royalty interest under the 1947 lease.

         In August and October of 1993, while the 1947 lease was still in effect, Junius and Dolores each entered into an act of cash sale ("deed") with Carol wherein each conveyed to Carol a royalty interest. Both deeds contain identical descriptions of the object being conveyed, to wit:

ALL OF SELLER'S right, title and interest consisting of an undivided one third in a .00781255 mineral royalty interest in and to the following described property
A certain tract or parcel of land containing 26.34 acres[3], being in the W/2 of the E/2 of Section 57, T 15 S, R 15 E; being bounded as follows: North by land of Dewey Adams now or formerly, East by Heirs of Joseph Adams now or formerly, South by Lyric Realty and Parking Company now or formerly, West by Roger heirs now or formerly, ("the deed")

         The 1947 lease remained in production until 1998; however, in April of 1998 the holders of the 1947 lease filed a release and surrender of the lease in the conveyance records. On May 15, 1998, Carol entered into a new mineral lease with Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. affecting a portion of the subject property ("1998 lease"). Under the terms of the 1998 lease, Carol received a one-sixth (1/6) royalty interest as part of the consideration for the lease. Alfred J. Glassell, Jr. did not seek or obtain a lease from Dolores or Junius. Production under the 1998 lease commenced in 1999 from the Mire RD SUA; J.V. Rogers, et al, No. 2 Well, said well remains in production to date.

         On February 5, 2015, a petition for concursus was filed by the then-holder of the 1998 lease, Legacy Trust Company, N.A. and the operator of the well, Glassell Producing Company, Inc. (collectively referred to herein as "plaintiffs"). The petition named as defendants: Junius, Carol, and the heirs of Dolores, who are the appellants herein. The plaintiffs asserted that the defendants had conflicting claims to sums accruing from production under the 1998 lease. The petition asserted that Carol took the position that the 1993 deeds conveyed all of Junius and Dolores' undivided right, title, and interest in the property. As to Junius and heirs of Dolores, the petition claimed that they asserted an undivided two-thirds (2/3) interest in and to the undivided interest in production, less any mineral royalties that may have been conveyed by the 1993 deeds. The plaintiffs sought to deposit the following sums in the court registry pending resolution of the matter:

[A] 11 sums accruing to the interest in production of oil and gas from the Subject Lands as claimed by Junius A. Naquin and...[the] heirs of Dolores Naquin Richard Durocher, which have now accrued, less the cost of drilling, completing and operating the...unit well, and those net sums which will accrue from time to time in the future...

         In February of 2015, the defendants deposited $397, 059.29 into the court registry.

         Carol answered the plaintiffs' petition and asserted that Junius and Dolores intended to sell and did sell all of their mineral royalty interest in the property by virtue of the October 1993 deeds and, further, that the "reference to a '.00781255' mineral royalty interest was merely a typographical error" made by the notary who drafted the deeds between her and her siblings.

         On April 27, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion to limit the time to file an answer under La. C.C.P. art. 4657. On May 6, 2015, the trial court ordered all defendants to file an answer ten days from publication of notice of the order. The heirs of Dolores timely filed their answer; however, Junius failed to file his answer within the delays set forth by the trial court. Following a contradictory hearing, the trial court issued a judgment dated October 26, 2015, setting aside and striking the answer of Junius and finding ...

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