King Ranch Prevails on Claim to Ranch

(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 In this decision, the Supreme Court upholds the validity of a judgment originally made in 1883.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 King Ranch.

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.