- St. Mary’s University School of Law, J.D., 2013, Dean’s Scholar
- Texas A&M University, B.A., Political Science, Magna Cum Laude, 2010
- Texas, 2013
- United States District Court Western District of Texas
John W. Ellis
John Ellis represents clients in energy, real property, and commercial litigation matters throughout Texas. John’s thorough approach to his cases and his work product follows from his broad range of oil and gas experience, including working as a petroleum landman in the Eagle Ford Shale region and Rio Grande Valley before law school, rendering title opinions early in his legal career, and advising clients on all manner of day-to-day challenges that accompany oil and gas operations. An integral part of the firm’s trial team, John has extensive jury trial, bench trial, and arbitration experience, as well as experience in appellate courts throughout Texas. He enjoys going to trial and aggressively litigates his cases with an eye toward trying them, while also pursuing more expedient disposition through procedural and statutory mechanisms, summary judgment, and amicable resolutions when sensible settlement opportunities present themselves. John’s trial experience combined with his unique ability to navigate and simplify complex facts and legal concepts on paper make him a valuable asset to his clients both in and out of the courtroom. John primarily represents oil and gas exploration and production companies, but he has also represented oilfield service companies, non-operating working interest owners, mineral and royalty owners, and many other individuals and businesses involved in general commercial disputes outside of the oil and gas context. John is Board Certified in Oil, Gas and Mineral Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
PROFESSIONAL AND COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
- San Antonio Bar Association, Member
- San Antonio Association of Professional Landmen, Member
- Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, Member
- Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas, Member
- St. Mary’s External Advocacy Moot Court Team, Brief Writer, 2011-2012
- St. Mary’s Law Journal, 2011-2012
- Selected for inclusion as a “Texas Rising Star,” Super Lawyers, 2022
- Scene in SA, “San Antonio’s Best Lawyers,” 2020, 2021
- Phi Delta Phi
- 09.21.18: Rights of First Refusal in Texas: An Overview, State Bar of Texas, Oil and Gas Advanced Course, co-author
- $32 Million Jury Verdict with Punitive Damages and Attorneys’ Fees; Take-Nothing Judgment on Adversary’s Claims: Counsel (non-lead) to oil and gas service company and its officer in securing $32,000,000.00 unanimous jury verdict and final judgment in a two-week trial on claims for breaches of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. Verdict and final judgment included over $10,000,000.00 in punitive damages and over $1,000,000.00 in attorneys’ fees. In same trial, secured take-nothing judgment that disposed of adversary’s counterclaims for fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty and breaches of contract. Also secured declaratory relief confirming client’s control of company. Appeal is presently pending at the Beaumont Court of Appeals and collection efforts have not yet commenced.
- $1.6 Million Jury Verdict with Attorneys’ Fees: Counsel (non-lead) to oil and gas exploration and production companies in jury trial against mineral owner defendants that secured a $1,600,000.00 jury verdict and final judgment for client. Case involved disputed issues of title and included claims for breach of contract. All damages and attorneys’ fees requested for the client were awarded by the jury. Firm is presently assisting client in collection efforts.
- $9.3 Million Jury Verdict with Punitive Damages; Take-Nothing Judgment on Adversary’s Claims: Counsel (non-lead) assisting exploration & production company in securing $9,300,000.00 unanimous federal jury verdict and final judgment on claims for tortious interference with existing contract and breach of contract. Verdict and final judgment included $3,030,000.00 in punitive damages. In same trial, secured jury verdict for client on defenses of excuse and estoppel, resulting in take-nothing judgment that disposed of adversary’s $6,700,000.00 counterclaim for breach of contract. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal, and collections were not undertaken by the Firm.
- $600,000 Judgment in Bench Trial with Punitive Damages and Attorneys’ Fees: Counsel (non-lead) at trial for client owning interests in saltwater disposal well over title to interests in the well and for damages. The Firm was retained and substituted as lead counsel approximately three weeks prior to trial and during trial successfully secured an award of specific performance and title to interests in the saltwater disposal well, plus over $600,000.00 in damages that included all attorneys’ fees requested and punitive damages. Final judgment was entered, with all monetary sums owed under the judgment collected and record title to the interests secured.
- Arbitration Award Confirming Royalty Ownership and Awarding Attorneys’ Fees: Represented Texas royalty owner client in arbitration of a title dispute involving claims for breach of warranty, fraud, and declaratory judgment. At final hearing, successfully secured arbitration award confirming client’s ownership of the entire term royalty interest and awarding attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs to client.
- Take-Nothing Judgment for Publicly Traded Operator Client: Represented publicly traded Texas oil and gas operator client in lawsuit by landowners who were suing for fraud, conversion, declaratory judgment, and failure to pay royalties in lawsuit involving South Texas receivership proceeding and receiver’s lease. Plaintiffs sought over $6 million in damages. Successfully obtained take-nothing summary judgment dismissing all of plaintiffs’ claims against client.
- Take-Nothing Judgment for Mineral Owner Clients. Represented mineral owner clients against adverse claimants in lawsuit over title to fee minerals in South Texas. Clients were being sued for breach of warranty, slander of title, declaratory judgment, suit to quiet title, deed reformation, trespass to try title, fraud and fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and damages. Successfully obtained take-nothing summary judgment dismissing all of plaintiffs’ claims against clients and confirming clients’ ownership of the entire mineral interest.
- Judgment for Service Company Client Foreclosing on Mineral Liens and Securing Full Payment: Represented South Texas oilfield service company client in lawsuit for breach of contract and foreclosure of mineral liens against owner of oil and gas assets. Successfully foreclosed liens and subsequently secured full payment to client in satisfaction of all liens.
- Represented South Texas commodity trading company client in lawsuit involving claims for breach of contract and fraud and seeking seven figures in contract damages owed to client. Secured favorable resolution and seven-figure payment to client.
- Represented West Texas ranch owner client in dispute with large Texas pipeline company over various breaches of right-of-way agreements. Secured favorable resolution and seven-figure surface damage payment to client.
- Represented mineral owner client against adverse claimants in lawsuit over title to producing fee minerals South Texas. Prosecuted and defended claims in trespass to try title and adverse possession, declaratory judgment, suit to quiet title, and bona fide purchaser, and defended against petition for bill of review to vacate a judgment. Obtained favorable resolution confirming client’s ownership and securing payment to client of seven figures in royalties.
- Represented South Texas oil and gas operator client in lawsuit where client was being sued for negligent surface damage and environmental contamination. Secured favorable resolution, and client paid no damages.
- Represented South Texas oil and gas operator client in lawsuit against counterparty in a failed acquisition of oil and gas leases and wells. Lawsuit involved claims for breach of contract, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, fraud, and declaratory judgment. Secured favorable resolution and six-figure payment to client.
- Represented international oil and gas operator client in a lawsuit against a drilling rig vendor for breach of contract and defended against various counterclaims. Secured favorable resolution and six-figure payment to client.
- Represented South Texas oil and gas operator client in lawsuit for breach of warranty against mineral lessor who had wrongfully accepted lease bonus money for minerals that were already leased to a third party. Defended against counterclaims for breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Secured favorable resolution and six-figure payment to client.
- Represented international oil and gas operator client in a multi-million-dollar deed interpretation lawsuit. Successfully obtained dismissal of counterclaim against client and secured court order permitting client to interplead, discharging client from all liability, dismissing client from lawsuit, and awarding attorneys’ fees to client.
- Represented mineral trustee client in lawsuit against co-trustee over entitlement to trust income. Obtained temporary restraining order against co-trustee, and secured favorable resolution returning all wrongfully taken income to client and amending trust agreement to prevent future abuses.
- Represented royalty owner client in contested probate litigation involving disputes over title to a South Texas term royalty interest devised in in a will. Successfully probated will and confirmed client’s ownership of entire royalty interest.
- Represented various oil and gas operator clients in securing mineral receiverships and royalty receiverships, permitting clients to drill horizontal wells with all interests pooled and no lease line or property line restrictions.
- Represented various Texas oil and gas operator clients in closing out mineral receivership and royalty receivership proceedings where absentee owners had appeared to seek release.
- Represented various clients in probate proceedings, including standard will probate and issuance of letters testamentary, probating wills as a muniment of title, probating will copies, probating wills more than four years after the testator’s death, and probating wills as interested successor in title to mineral and royalty interests.
PRE-DISPUTE AND TRANSACTIONAL PRACTICE
- Advising various Texas oil and gas operator clients in connection with day-to-day operational challenges to avoid litigation, including issues relating to royalty payment and suspense, division orders, compliance with joint operating agreements and mineral leases, title problems affecting distribution of proceeds, wellbore locations and drainage, dealing with service companies, ingress and egress rights, and other issues.
- Advising various Texas non-operating working interest owner clients in connection with obligations under joint operating agreements and related contracts.
- Drafting mineral liens and mechanic’s liens on behalf of service companies and similarly situated clients to secure payment of past-due amounts.
- Negotiating and drafting mineral deeds, non-participating royalty deeds, override assignments, oil and gas leases, ratifications, stipulations of interest, and other real property instruments.
- Examined title and drafted title opinions and title memoranda before transitioning into trial work full time.
- Prior to attending law school, worked as a petroleum landman in the Eagle Ford Shale region and the Rio Grande Valley researching county records, obtaining seismic permits, building runsheets and ownership reports, and drafting curative.