(Harlingen, TX, May 3, 2004) —The U.S. Supreme Court today announced
that it refused without comment to hear a case that involves a 121-year-old
dispute over the rightful ownership of South Texas ranch land. The case
claims that a widow was wrongly denied more than 15,000 acres of land.
In this decision, the Supreme Court upholds the validity of a judgment
originally made in 1883.
William Warren Chapman III, grandson of William Chapman--a business partner
of Richard King, founder of the 800,000-acre King Ranch, and his son-in-law,
Robert Kleberg—filed the suit, arguing that Ranch and Kleberg cheated
Helen B. Chapman, widow of William Chapman, out of 15,449 acres knows
as the Rincon de Santa Gertrudis. Following William Chapman’s death
in 1859, Mrs. Chapman sued Mr. King for her share of the profits form
her husbands halfinterest in the King Ranch land. The claim against Mr.
King was eventually settled, with Mrs. Chapman’s attorney selling
her interest in the ranch in 1883 for $5,800.
“We’re happy that the Supreme Court ruling brings to an end
the final chapter of this renewed litigation that the Ranch thought had
been concluded more than a century ago,’’ says John B. Thomas,
a partner at Hicks Thomas & Liliensten, LLP, the firm representing
The U.S. Supreme Court decision supports an August 2003 ruling by the Texas
Supreme Court, which reversed a lower court’s 2001 ruling calling
for a jury trial. For more information on this case, please contact attorneys
John Thomas or Laura Rowe at 713- 547-9100, or call Lesley Keller at 713-547-9137.