Sartor v. Arkansas Nat. Gas Corp.
321 U.S. 620 (1944)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sartor v. Arkansas Nat. Gas Corp., 321 U.S. 620 (1944)

Sartor v. Arkansas Natural Gas Corp.

No. 232

Argued February 3, 1944

Decided March 27, 1944

321 U.S. 620




Summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Rules of Civil Procedure should not have been granted defendant solely upon opinion affidavits of experts who either were officer of defendant or whose interests with respect to the subject matter of the litigation were similar to that of defendant, and who had given like testimony at a previous trial of the cause wherein a jury had found contrary to their testimony. P. 321 U. S. 627.

134 F.2d 433, reversed.

Certiorari, 320 U.S. 727, to review the affirmance of a judgment (46 F.Supp. 111) for the defendant, upon a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, in a suit to recover sums claimed to be due the plaintiffs under an oil and gas lease.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This litigation, begun a decade ago, has been terminated by a summary judgment, and whether rightly so is the issue. The suit has weathered four adjudications, including two trials, in District Court and four decisions by the Court of Appeals. [Footnote 1] We will recite only such of its

Page 321 U. S. 621

history as bears on the issues as to summary judgment, since we consider no other question.

Sartors are landowners in Richland Parish, Louisiana, who, in March of 1927, leased their lands for natural gas development. The lease, so far as here important, provides that

". . . the grantor shall be paid one-eighth (1/8) of the value of such gas calculated at the rate of market price and no less than three cents per thousand cubic feet, corrected to two pounds above atmospheric pressure. . . ."

For many years, the lessee made settlement at the 3

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