Before Dr. David Smouse, founder of the David W. Smouse Opportunity School in Des Moines, Iowa, died in 1932 he was looking to the future and how he could continue to support the school.
Eighty years later, thanks to a gift in his will of oil and gas rights on a piece of land he owned in Texas, the Smouse Opportunity School is receiving a payment of nearly $1.2 million, to be followed by monthly royalty payments from Choice Exploration Inc.
Baker Botts helped the district understand the nature of its oil and gas royalty interest in the property in Liberty County, Texas, as well as several documents that Choice was negotiating with the district.
When Choice informed the district that it would not pay any royalties accrued prior to the date the officials ratified a unit designation, Baker Botts agreed to represent the district pro bono to recover the Smouse Opportunity School’s proportionate share of the proceeds from production on the property.
After the firm filed suit on behalf of the Smouse School in Federal Court in Beaumont, Choice agreed to a settlement by which Choice paid the School $1,176,052 in accrued royalties.
“Smouse Opportunity School plays such an important role in the lives and education of students from throughout the Des Moines metro, it is exciting to see them benefit from such a unique gift,” said interim superintendent Tom Ahart. “On behalf of Des Moines Public Schools, I want to give our deepest thanks to Mark Robeck of the Baker Botts law firm, whose pro bono work on behalf of the district helped us realize this gift. Our thanks also goes out to Choice Exploration, for their work and professionalism in ensuring that the benefits from this bequest were directed to Smouse School.”
Robeck said, “Helping the school realize the benefit of the gift left by Dr. Smouse, which could provide substantial additional income for years to come, has been a privilege. Our work on behalf of the Smouse School continues Baker Botts’ long-standing commitment to supporting programs and organizations that benefit individuals with special needs. The Smouse Opportunity School serves a large population of special needs children from economically disadvantaged homes.”
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