Reeder v. Wood County Energy, LLCAnnotate this Case
This case involved the duties and standard of care of an oil and gas operator under an exculpatory clause in a joint operating agreement (JOA). Based on language in the exculpatory clause in the JOA, the trial court instructed the jury to find that to find a breach of the JOA the operator's conduct must have risen to the level of gross negligence or willful misconduct. The jury found the operator, Petitioner, breached his duties under the JOA to the working interest owners. The court of appeals affirmed, holding (1) the gross negligence and willful misconduct instruction should not have been included in the charge because the case centered around a breach of contract; but (2) there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings that Petitioner breached his duty as operator when measured against the elements of breach of contract. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the exculpatory clause in the JOA established the standard for the claims against Petitioner; and (2) there was legally insufficient evidence that Petitioner was grossly negligent or acted with willful misconduct.