By August 22, 2015 Read More →

West Texas jury says a deal is a deal in $60 million oil leases law suit

West Texas Tiburon Land claimants awarded $33.1 million verdict, second set of claimants receive $28 million

A West Texas jury has awarded more than $60 million to investors who claimed they were defrauded by an Abilene oil man and his co-defendants, according to the lawyer representing one group of claimants.

West Texas

Dallas lawyer, Frank L. Branson.

Plaintiffs claimed they shared in the first 30,000 acres of leases acquired in the project, but Thomas J. Taylor and his co-defendants, Chester Carroll and attorney Kerwin Stephens, excluded them from an additional 16,000 acres of leases.

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, according to Dallas attorney Frank L. Branson, who along with colleagues Eric T. Stahl and Debbie 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.

Branson said in a press release that two groups of oil and gas investors discovered 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.

Branson’s Dallas-based clients were awarded $33.1 million verdict – $24 million in actual damages and $9 million in exemplary damages.

“In Fisher County a deal is a deal,” said 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.”

Jurors also awarded $28 million to a second group of investors represented by attorney Michael Hurst of Dallas-based Gruber Hurst Elrod Johansen Hail Shank and other lawyers who intervened in the case and asserted similar claims against the defendants, according to Branson.

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 Fisher County trial was heard in the 32nd District Court in Roby.


The total verdict amount was strengthened based on a finding that the fiduciary breaches by Mr. Stephens constituted “theft,” according to Branson.

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