Wenske v. Ealy (Opinion)Annotate this Case
In construing an unambiguous deed, the parties’ intent is paramount, and that intent is determined by conducting a careful and detailed examination of a deed in its entirety rather than applying some default rule that appears nowhere in the deed’s text.
In this case, the Supreme Court construed a deed that conveyed a mineral estate and the surface above it. At issue was whether the language of the deed passed the entire burden of an outstanding non-participating royalty interest (NPRI) to the grantees or whether the NPRI proportionately burdened the grantor’s reserved interest. The trial court ruled that the deed burdened both parties with an outstanding NPRI and that the parties must share the burden of the NPRI in proportion to their respective fractional mineral interests. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the only reasonable reading of the deed in this case resulted in the parties bearing the NPRI burden in shares proportionate to their fractional interests in the minerals.