John W. Ellis
John W. Ellis represents clients in energy, real property, and commercial litigation matters throughout Texas. Before moving into litigation full time in 2015, his practice involved rendering acquisition, original drilling, and supplemental title opinions, drafting title and curative instruments, operational advising on a variety of issues, and representing clients in receivership actions. He worked as a petroleum landman in the Eagle Ford Shale region prior to attending law school. 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
- Scene in SA, “San Antonio’s Best Lawyers,” 2020
- 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
- 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. Appeal is pending at the San Antonio Court of Appeals.
- 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 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. Appeal is pending at the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals.
- Assisted with extensive trial briefing and preparation, attended two-week federal jury trial, drafted motion for judgment as a matter of law, and assisted throughout trial to obtain $9.3 million federal jury verdict and final judgment for South Texas oil and gas operator client, and take-nothing judgment on $6.7 million counterclaim against client. Lawsuit involved claims for breach of contract, tortious interference, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.
- 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. 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 all royalties in dispute, discharging client from all liability, dismissing client from lawsuit, and awarding attorneys’ fees to client.
- 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 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 publicly traded Texas-based oil and gas operator client in multiple South Texas mineral receivership proceedings involving over a dozen absentee mineral owner defendants. Successfully secured court orders appointing receivers for all unleased mineral interests and obtained receiver’s leases covering mineral interests of all absentee owners. Client was subsequently able to drill horizontal wells with no lease line or property line restrictions.
- Represented Texas oil and gas operator client in multiple South Texas royalty receivership proceedings involving over 200 absentee royalty owner defendants who owned fractional non-participating royalties on drillsite tracts. Successfully secured court orders appointing receivers for all royalty interests and obtained receiver’s ratifications covering royalty interests of all absentee owners. Client was subsequently able to pay royalties for those interests on a unit basis.
- Represented West Texas ranch owner 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 that were held in suspense.
- Represented term royalty owner clients in a deed interpretation lawsuit against adverse claimant mineral owners. Prosecuted and defended claims in trespass to try title, declaratory judgment, breach of warranty, and deed reformation. Obtained favorable resolution converting clients’ term royalty interest to a perpetual royalty interest, confirming clients’ ownership, and securing payment to client of seven figures in royalties that were held in suspense.
- 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.
- 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 foreclosed liens.
- 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 by co-trustee.
- Represented royalty owner client in proceeding to probate a decades-old will and confirm title to client’s South Texas term non-participating royalty interest. Successfully probated will and confirmed client’s ownership of the entire royalty interest.
- Represented royalty owner client in probate litigation involving a will contest over title to a South Texas term royalty interest. Successfully probated will and confirmed client’s ownership of the entire royalty interest.
- Represented various Texas oil and gas operators in closing out receivership proceedings where absentee owners had appeared to prove title and seek release of royalties from the court’s registry.
- 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, and probating wills more than four years after the testator’s death.
Pre-Dispute and Transactional Experience
- Advised 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.
- Advised various Texas non-operating working interest owner clients in connection with obligations under joint operating agreements and related contracts.
- Drafted and recorded mineral liens and mechanic’s liens on behalf of various service company clients to secure payment of past-due amounts.
- Negotiated and drafted mineral deeds, royalty deeds, oil and gas leases, ratifications, stipulations of interest, and other real property instruments.
- Negotiated and drafted indemnity agreements, deeds of trust, security agreements, and other transactional documents.
- Examined title and drafted title opinions and title memoranda before transitioning into litigation 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 documentation.