Pavlik v. Consolidation Coal Co. Case Brief

Summary of Pavlik v. Consolidation Coal Co., U. S. Ct App [1972]

Relevant Facts: The E was signed by the predecessors in title of the parties in 1956, where the predecessor Pittsburgh Coal signed a K to supply Cleveland w/ coal through the pipeline. The pipeline was built and successfully operated from 1957 until 1963. Df Consolidation and Cleveland entered a supplemental agreement where the pipeline was deactivated in 1963, but Df was to maintain the pipeline. The parties negotiated an agreement for continuation for another year in order to extend the defeasance clause until 1967. The parties negotiation for the elimination of the time restrictions w/i the agreement ended in failure and the E terminated.

Legal Issue(s): Whether when the pipeline was deactivated, the defeasance clause should have been given its intended effect?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Tr Ct judge ruled in favor of Df; Pl appealed; judgment vacated and remanded.

Law or Rule(s): When Clear K language itself reveals the intent of the parties, there is no need to turn to rules of construction. If interpretation of their intention is required first look to the K as a whole. The parties subsequent actions of the parties may be viewed to determine the purpose of the K.

Court Rationale: The language of the Easement is not ambiguous. When transmission of coal slurry ceased for one year, the defeasance clause became operative. The grantor has the rights to use the property as he sees fit and if his proposed use would require removal of the pipeline, he can demand that Df remove and relocate it at any time. There were 15 occasions where Df and Pl signed supplemental agreements after termination of the operation of the pipeline, at Df’s request and cost. These supplemental agreements when properly read represented full recognition of the effectiveness of the defeasance clause by the parties themselves as of the termination of the transmission of coal slurry.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The pipeline was deactivated for over one year, and therefor the defeasance clause terminates the Easement.

Defendant’s Argument: The pipeline was being maintained in readiness to transport coal slurry in accordance with the granting clause.

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