ROBY, Texas – A West Texas jury has awarded more than $43 million to a group of oil and gas investors after finding that their business partners had breached fiduciary duties by crediting themselves for financial contributions they never made and by excluding the investors from a lease acquisition project after it became apparent that the project would be tremendously successful.
Dallas attorneys Frank L. Branson, Eric T. Stahl and Debbie Branson of The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson represented one of the investor groups, consisting of Dallas-based Tiburon Land and Cattle LP and Trek Resources Inc. on behalf of the Three Finger/Black Shale Prospect Partnership. The Fisher County trial was heard in 32nd District Court in Roby.
“In Fisher County a deal is a deal,” says Mr. Branson. “It was very clear to the jurors that the defendants did not honor their word and took opportunities that did not belong to them, and that’s a very serious matter in West Texas.”
Although the plaintiffs shared in the first 30,000 acres of leases acquired in the project, they presented evidence that they were excluded from an additional 16,000 acres of leases that were acquired by Abilene oil man Thomas J. Taylor and his co-defendants, Chester Carroll and attorney Kerwin Stephens. The Plaintiffs argued that the defendants created a second set of books to disguise profits and make it look as though the partnership’s contributions were their own.
The case is Tiburon Land and Cattle LP and Trek Resources on behalf of the Three Finger/Black Shale Prospect Partnership v. Sarah Kate Jones, as Independent Executrix of the Estate of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, et al., No. DC-2013-0016.
The $43.1 million verdict included $24 million in actual damages and $19 million in exemplary damages. The total verdict amount was strengthened based on a finding that the fiduciary breaches constituted “theft.”
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson maintains a reputation for courtroom excellence based on significant verdicts and settlements for clients in high-stakes litigation and business disputes. The firm’s record verdicts and recoveries stem from cases involving trucking and transportation injuries, dangerous and defective products, construction accidents, commercial plane crashes, explosions and burns caused by gas and electric power utilities, medical negligence, workplace catastrophes and business disputes.