Oil Field Lawsuit Dismissed
BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) _ A federal judge has dismissed two lawsuits in which 2,800 people sought a share of an oil fortune by claiming family ties to deceased wildcatter James Meadors.
U.S. District Judge Joe Fisher accepted the Nov. 1 recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Earl Hines that he dismiss the suits, filed last year against some of the nation’s largest oil companies, because the would-be heirs waited more than 70 years before staking their claim.
The order Fisher signed late Tuesday dismisses two suits: one by Jewell Robbins of Lexington, Ky., on behalf of one possible heir, and one by Mary Allen of Cincinnati, leader of about 2,800 people claiming kinship to Meadors.
A similar lawsuit dismissed by Fisher earlier is on appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
All three suits allege the plaintiffs are descendants of Meadors, and that a 1911 deed officially filed in 1931 gave Meadors a one-eighth interest in land that is part of the Spindletop oil field. Strikes at Spindletop started Texas’ oil boom.
Fisher said the ″reasons plaintiffs offer for their 73-year delay in filing suit are insufficient and will not prevent dismissal of these causes.″
But the plaintiff’s attorneys said their clients did not have certain facts that might have led them to assert their claims earlier.
The lawsuits name Chevron USA Inc., Amoco Production Co., Mobil Oil Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co. and Texaco Inc. as defendants.
Tim Hatton of Beattyville, Ky., an attorney for Ms. Robbins, said he was surprised Fisher didn’t delay his decision until the appeals court ruled.
″The whole key to the ball game will be the decision there,″ Hatton said. He also said he would appeal Fisher’s decision.
Hatton said possible grounds for an appeal is a motion he filed last month asking Fisher to excuse himself from the case because he owns property connected to the Spindletop oil field. Fisher has said he doesn’t know of any land he owns that might be connected to the oil field.
William Rossini of Dallas, attorney for Ms. Allen, also said he would appeal.