Cass v. Stephens

In Cass v. Stephens, 156 S.W.3d 38, 68 (Tex. App.--El Paso 2004, pet. denied), a working interest owner sued the operator of oil and gas wells for breach of contract, fraud, and conversion. Id. at 47-49. The plaintiff's allegations included that the operator made unauthorized expense charges on wells; overcharged expenses; and charged expenses incurred on wells owned by the operator to plaintiff's wells. See id. at 50-51. In rejecting the argument that the damages were contractual the court stated: "We reject the contention that Stephens' injury is contractual because she recovered economic damages. . . . Frank's fraud caused the joint interest owners to pay for goods and services they never received. Logically, their damages are economic-fraudulently induced payment of money results in money damages. We conclude that the injury is tortuous in nature." See id. at 68-69. Thus, Cass clearly held that an agreement can create "a conduit for committing the torts, but the duty breached exists independent from the agreements." Id. at 69.