This is a suit for damages occasioned by the refusal of defendant to permit plaintiffs to mine gravel from a right-of-way strip defendant holds an easement to across plaintiffs' land. Plaintiffs Street, et al, own a 15 acre tract in fee simple, subject to a right-of-way easement for a pipeline across such tract, owned by defendant Sinclair. Plaintiffs mined some of the gravel on the tract, but have been met by a demand by defendant to remain a certain distance from the pipeline, and to maintain a certain slope supporting such pipeline. Plaintiffs sought mandatory injunction against defendant, requiring a removal of the pipeline to a location on the property, where the gravel was already mined, or in the alternative for damages for the value of gravel located under and around defendant's pipeline, and which cannot be mined, unless the line be moved. There was no allegation or evidence of any negligence in the operation of the pipeline by Sinclair.
Trial was before the Court, without a jury, which rendered judgment that plaintiffs take nothing.
Plaintiffs appeal, contending that the Trial Court erred in holding defendant pipeline company not liable to pay plaintiffs the reasonable market value of the gravel underneath the pipeline, because the right-of-way deed provided the pipeline would pay to plaintiff "any damages which may arise from grantee's operations in * * * operating * * * said pipeline."
The right-of-way deed or easement provides:
The Trial Court filed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law here summarized:
The case turns on the construction of the easement.
Plaintiffs therefore have no right to require defendant to remove its pipeline to another location where the gravel was already mined. Plaintiffs, however, contend that the language in the easement, "Grantee hereby agrees to pay any damages which may arise from Grantee's operations in * * * operating * * * said pipeline", entitles plaintiffs to the value of the gravel which cannot be mined because of the pipeline. Plaintiffs cite Big Three Welding Equipment Co. v. Crutcher, 149 Tex. 204, 229 S.W.2d 600, as authority that the word "operating" means "to put into, or to continue in, operation or activity; to manage; to conduct; to carry out or through; to work; as to operate a machine or motor vehicle"; and assert that defendant agreed to pay damages which may arise from its operating the pipeline; that plaintiffs' damages are caused by defendant's operation of the pipeline; and that defendant owes plaintiffs for the gravel which cannot be mined.
It is not the operation of the pipeline across plaintiffs' property which has produced plaintiffs' damages; it is the presence or existence of the pipeline itself, which has prevented plaintiffs from mining their gravel. Defendant paid for the easement, and plaintiffs' estate is subservient to defendant's right to such easement, and so much of the land as reasonably necessary to effectuate the purposes of the easement.
Plaintiffs' contentions are overruled and the judgment is affirmed.