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Briarwood Group, L.L.C. v. Calhoun

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 18, 2018

BRIARWOOD GROUP, L.L.C., Plaintiffs-Appellants
v.
HOPE RYDER CALHOUN AND CHESAPEAKE LOUISIANA, LP, Defendants-Appellees v.

         Appealed from the Thirty-Ninth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Red River, Louisiana Trial Court No. 35981 Honorable Lewis O. Sams, Judge

          BURGESS LAW, L.L.C. By: Robert E. Burgess RHYS E. BURGESS Counsel for Appellants

          BETHARD & BETHARD, L.L.P. Counsel for Appellees, Hope Ryder Calhoun and Thomas A. Calhoun

          DAVID K. McCRORY Counsel for Appellee, Chesapeake Louisiana, LP

          OTTINGER HEBERT, LLC By: Benjamin D. Jones JONES & ODOM, L.L.P. By: John S. Odom, Jr. Counsel for Appellee, CCH Investments, LLC

          Before BROWN, WILLIAMS, and MOORE, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         The plaintiffs, Briarwood, LLC, Riemer Calhoun, Jr., and Marcia Calhoun, appeal a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Hope Calhoun, Chesapeake Louisiana, LP, Carolyn Huckabay and Thomas Calhoun. The district court determined that Marcia and Riemer Calhoun had transferred their individual mineral interests in June 2010 and that the mineral leases are valid. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTS

         In May 1986, Hope Calhoun ("Hope"), Carolyn Calhoun Huckabay ("Carolyn") and Thomas Calhoun ("Thomas") each owned an undivided 1/3 interest in a 105-acre tract of land described as the South ½ of Section 34, Township 13 North, Range 11 West, lying North and East of Boggy Bayou and North and West of Butler's Slough, Red River Parish ("the property"). Hope was the wife of Riemer Calhoun, Sr., who was the father of Carolyn and Thomas.

         In November 1988, Thomas conveyed his undivided interest in the property to Hope, Carolyn and Riemer Calhoun, Jr. ("Reimer"), and his wife Marcia Calhoun, who had previously established a separate property regime. Two months later, Carolyn and Riemer conveyed their undivided interests in the property to Hope as her separate property. In August 1995, Riemer Calhoun, Sr., died owning a 1/18th interest in the property. This interest passed equally to his surviving spouse, Hope, and his children, Riemer, Carolyn and Thomas, resulting in Hope owning a 65/72 interest in the property, Marcia owning a 4/72 interest, with Riemer, Carolyn and Thomas each owning a 1/72 interest.

         In October 2004, Hope conveyed all of her interest in the "non-executive mineral rights" to RCSR, LLC ("RCSR"). In the conveyance, Hope reserved to herself the executive right to the mineral rights, "specifically reserving the right to grant mineral leases" as to her interest in the property. In February 2008, Hope executed a mineral lease covering 69 acres of the property with the lessee, Meagher Oil & Gas Properties, Inc. One year later, the lessee assigned the lease to Chesapeake Louisiana, L.P. ("Chesapeake").

         In June 2010, RCSR transferred its non-executive mineral rights in the property in equal portions to Thomas, CCH Investments, LLC ("CCH") and Briarwood Group, LLC ("Briarwood"). This 2010 transfer provided that Hope, Thomas, CCH and Briarwood would each receive a 25% royalty interest and that Hope's royalty and executive right to the minerals would terminate at her death. The 2010 transfer was made subject to all valid and subsisting mineral leases which had been executed by any of the parties. On the signature page of the transfer, Marcia signed above language stating "Marcia Calhoun, member and manager of RCSR, LLC; member and manager of Briarwood Group, LLC and individually." Riemer signed the transfer above language stating "member and manager of Briarwood Group, LLC and individually." In September 2010, Hope signed a mineral lease with the lessee, Chesapeake, covering 36 acres of the property.

         In August 2013, the plaintiff, Briarwood, filed a petition for declaratory judgment against the defendants, Hope and Chesapeake, alleging that Hope did not have the right to grant the 2010 mineral lease. After Chesapeake filed a motion for summary judgment, plaintiff filed the first amended petition adding Riemer and Marcia as party plaintiffs. Chesapeake's motion was continued. The second amended petition added Carolyn and Thomas as defendants. Plaintiffs sought cancellation of the 2008 and 2010 mineral leases to the extent they covered the alleged separate interests in the property owned by Riemer and Marcia. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment on the ground that Hope owned 100% of the executive right in the property when she ...


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