Cohen v. McCutchin

In Cohen v. McCutchin, 565 S.W.2d 230 (Tex. 1978), the administrator of the estate of Byron M. McKnight (Cohen) sued Jerry, Gene and Alma McCutchins in a third-party action to recover certain drilling costs due pursuant to two written agreements allegedly entered into by the McCutchinses with McKnight. Before his death, McKnight had entered into an agreement with American Quasar Petroleum Co. to participate in the drilling and completion of an exploratory well in Ward County, Texas. Although drilled and completed, production of the well was not sufficient to pay the costs. After McKnight's death, American Quasar sued Cohen, as administrator of McKnight's estate, to recover McKnight's share of the drilling costs. Cohen, in turn, filed a third-party action against the McCutchinses seeking to recover their pro rata shares of the costs owed by them pursuant to two written agreements they had allegedly entered into with McKnight. Under these agreements, McKnight allegedly assigned portions of his working interest to each of the McCutchinses. Although the letter agreements were signed by each McCutchins, they were not signed by McKnight and did not identify him in any way. Cohen, 565 S.W.2d at 231. Under these facts, the Supreme Court held that, since there was no writing that identified McKnight as a party to the letter agreements, the memoranda were insufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds. Id. at 232.