March 30, 2011 Articles

Texas Surface Damages Law Basics

Part of practicing energy litigation is understanding the delicate balance between the rights of mineral owners and surface owners.

By Eugene M. Nettles – March 30, 2011

Texas has long recognized the right of a landowner to sever the surface and mineral estates.See Cowan v. Hardeman, 26 Tex. 217 (1862). Where these estates have been severed, the mineral estate is the dominant estate, and the surface estate is the servient estate. Id.Harris v. Currie, 176 S.W.2d 302 (Tex. 1944). However, a corollary to this logic is that the surface estate would also be worthless if the mineral owner could occupy and completely destroy the surface at a whim.

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