Supreme court rules against surface owner in drilling damage lawsuit


The Oklahoma Supreme Court has overturned a State Civil Appeals Court and upheld a District Court ruling in a legal fight involving surface damages caused by the drilling of a well in Canadian County.

The Supreme court issued its ruling in the 2017 lawsuit filed by Talen Paul Hobson against Cimarex Energy Company. He sued claiming he was entitled to property damages because he was a “surface owner.” He was the vested “remainderman” of his father’s life estate in the surface rights.

Cimarex Energy sought dismissal claiming Hobson was not an owner as defined by the Oklahoma Surface Damages Act. The Canadian County court ruled in favor of Cimarex Energy and Hobson promptly appealed. The Civil Appeals Court reversed the lower court ruling.

The Supreme court found the Surface Damage Act was “ambiguous” and vacated the Civil Appeals Court decision and upheld the original ruling in Canadian County District Court.