A federal judge has ruled that thousands of descendants of an early Texas resident have no claim to a share of the Spindletop oilfield fortune or the estimated $200 billion worth of oil pumped from it since the Lucas gusher spurted in 1901.
U.S. District Judge Howell Cobb's ruling came in the latest of a long series of lawsuits brought by would-be heirs against oil companies.It was a summary judgment in favor of Amoco Production Inc., Mobil Oil Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co., Texaco Inc. and Chevron Inc. in a suit filed by four relatives who claimed kinship to Pelham Hum-phries and asked for $200 billion in oil, gas and mineral rights from the companies.
The suit was filed in February in Tennessee by the four relatives who sought to have their case declared a class action suit on behalf of numerous other heirs. The case was transferred to Beaumont.
"This court desperately desires that the ghost of Pelham Humphries will no longer haunt the halls of the United States court system," Cobb wrote in his opinion. "The Pelham Humphries litigation is over . . . requiescat in pace (rest in peace)."
Brown Peregoy, a Tennessee resident representing 3,000 members of the Humphries Heirs Trust Association, contended Pelham Humphries received a grant to the Spindletop property from the Mexican government in 1835, and left no will.
The judge said in his ruling, however, that Humphries conveyed the grant to William Inglish, whose heirs conveyed it to William McFaddin in 1883.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in favor of the oil companies in a trilogy of Humphries' claims litigated in the 1950s and 1960s.