(CN) – Exxon Corp. will not face a claim that it sabotaged an abandoned oil well, the Texas Supreme Court ruled. Emerald Oil and Gas Co. brought the action against Exxon, claiming that it contaminated a well in Refugio County that it abandoned in 1991.
Emerald said the well contained metal, refuse, tank bottoms and other environmental waste when it began leasing the wells in 1993. Emerald sued Exxon for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and tortious interference.
The trial court ruled in Exxon’s favor, but the court of appeals reversed. The state high court sided with Exxon, concluding that Emerald did not have an interest in the property when the contamination took place.
“Absent a conveyance of the cause of action,” Justice Wainwright ruled, “a subsequent owner cannot sue a prior owner for injury to realty before the subsequent owner acquired his interest.”
Wainwright added that a ruling for Emerald would “make any party who holds a mineral interest indefinitely liable to all subsequent interest holders for prior alleged damage to the land.”