Natural Resource Deposits in Texas the Topic of Legal Battles

FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 21 (UPI) — Legal battles have erupted in North Texas between landowners and title companies over natural resource deposit rights, observers say.

Landowners around the Barnett Shale natural gas field say they purchased insurance from title companies assuming the firms had checked to see if their parcels’ mineral rights were clear. In some cases it turned out the title companies didn’t perform the checks and the landowners could not lay claim to the gas deposits on their land, the Forth Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported Monday.

The newspaper said two lawsuits filed in Denton County, Texas, contend title companies owe money to about 24 landowners because the companies failed to discover that the owners only had title to half the mineral rights on their land.

Adding fuel to the fire was a decision by the Texas Department of Insurance to adopt a rule allowing title insurance companies to claim a “blanket exception” on their responsibility to determine whether a landowner owns the mineral rights for a piece of property.

The Star-Telegram said title companies contend it would be prohibitively expensive to check the mineral rights ownership of every piece of land they insured.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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