Kelly Holleran Sep. 4, 2012, 10:13am

A Texas company claims it incurred unnecessary tax costs of more than $75,000 after ExxonMobil failed to reimburse the property taxes it paid on tracts of land in Beaumont it held in trust.

Sherman & Sherman Inc. filed a lawsuit Aug. 21 in Jefferson County District Court against ExxonMobil Corp.

In its complaint, Sherman & Sherman alleges it entered into a confidential oral contract with Mobil Oil in 1994. Under the terms of the contract, Sherman & Sherman agreed to purchase various properties in the vicinity of the Mobil Oil Beaumont Refinery and to hold the properties in trust, according to the complaint.

Later, the properties would be returned to Mobil Oil. The gas company would reimburse Sherman & Sherman for all costs, the suit states.

During the life of the contract, the special project manager at Mobil Oil was transferred and retired. In addition, Exxon and Mobil merged, the complaint says. Both changes threw a kink in the agreement, causing problems for Sherman & Sherman, the company alleges.

“Sherman feels that due to his contract being a confidential oral contract with the special project manager of Mobil Oil, that Exxon was not properly advised or made aware of said contract with Sherman,” the suit states. “In fact, it would appear that Mobil Oil attempted to sweep the contract with Sherman under the rug.”

Although Sherman & Sherman alerted ExxonMobil on multiple occasions to the fact that it was holding real property in trust, the company continued to ignore its attempts to complete the contract, according to the complaint.

Eventually, property taxes on two properties on Tagore Street and one on Van Buren Street in Beaumont became delinquent. Without having heard from ExxonMobil, Sherman & Sherman decided to pay the taxes, the complaint says. It claims it continued to pay taxes on the property until 2010 when it failed to receive tax statements.

Upon investigation, Sherman & Sherman discovered that their tax information was sent to ExxonMobil, which had changed the address to its facility, according to the complaint.

Sherman & Sherman’s lawyers then met with ExxonMobil’s lawyers on two separate occasions in an attempt to settle the tax issue, the suit states. At the end of the one of the meetings, ExxonMobil’s lawyers promised to make a settlement offer, the complaint says.

However, no settlement was made, and Sherman & Sherman claims it offered to settle for $352,000. Exxon has since failed to abide by the contract, according to the complaint.

In its suit, Sherman & Sherman seeks $300,000 for the money it claims it spent to buy the properties, $75,000 for the money it spent in property taxes, attorney’s fees of more than $100,000, post-judgment interest at the legal rate and other relief the court deems just.

Thomas J. Sibley of Beaumont will be representing it.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E192-921

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