Jackson Walker Plays Pivotal Role in Sale of Historic W.T. Waggoner Ranch

February 16, 2016 | Client Results

The efforts of Jackson Walker partners Wayne Malecha and Albon Head recently culminated in a real estate transaction of historic proportions, when the iconic W.T. Waggoner Ranch, listed at $725 million, was sold to billionaire NFL team owner Stan Kroenke.

Dating back to the mid-1800s, the Waggoner Ranch is the largest ranch under one fence in the U.S., spanning six counties in and around Vernon, Texas.

Prior to Jackson Walker’s involvement, entrenched conflicts among the Waggoner heirs had embroiled the ranch and its future in decades of litigation in the 46th District Court of Wilbarger County. Ultimately, the Court appointed Mike Baskerville as the receiver for the ranch, charging him with the monumental task of selling the ranch assets for the first time in history. Such assets include more than 510,000 acres of land, thousands of cattle, hundreds of horses, over a dozen cowboy camps, and significant oil reserves.

One of Mike Baskerville’s first steps was to enlist Jackson Walker as his legal counsel, led by Wayne Malecha with respect to real estate and transactional matters and Mr. Head with respect to litigation issues.

“I needed a large firm capable of assisting me in any of the diverse matters I anticipated would arise,” Mike Baskerville said. “I chose Jackson Walker because of the historic reputation of the firm and its breadth of expertise.”

The Jackson Walker team met with Mike Baskerville to devise a strategy to prevent the litigation from languishing further and then promptly implemented that strategy, which involved a combination of negotiated agreements and contested hearings.

These efforts resulted in a series of “firsts” in the 165-year history of the Waggoner Ranch, including:

  • The first on-the-ground survey identifying the boundaries of the ranch and its total acreage
  • The first comprehensive analysis of title confirming ownership in The W.T. Waggoner Estate
  • The first agreement to market the ranch for sale
  • And finally, the first sale of the ranch

Jackson Walker worked closely with Stan Kroenke’s team over several months in connection with a variety of closing issues. On February 9, 2016, after a deal satisfactory to all parties had been struck, Mike Baskerville joined in an agreed motion to dismiss the receivership, thus ending more than 25 years of litigation.

“Wayne Malecha provided faultless guidance as a transactional specialist, from the inception of the process through the complex closing,” Mike Baskerville said. “Albon Head managed the contested litigation process in the same excellent manner. Many other attorneys in the firm provided assistance in specific areas of expertise. Jackson Walker more than met all of my needs and expectations in the handling of this unique and complex case, and all with the highest degree of integrity.”

Jackson Walker is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Texas and has represented some of the state’s most influential individuals and businesses. Attorneys in the firm’s Real Estate and Energy practice groups have an in-depth understanding of the matters unique to transactions involving farm and ranch properties and oil and gas interests. Jackson Walker also maintains one of the largest trial groups in the Southwest, including attorneys with particular experience in real estate and oil and gas litigation, as well as litigation involving agricultural issues.

Wayne Malecha represents national, regional and local clients in a wide range of real estate and other business transactions. He regularly handles acquisitions and dispositions of commercial real estate, including farm and ranch matters. Wayne Malecha was recognized as one of the most influential business leaders in Dallas/Fort Worth in D CEO magazine’s inaugural edition of the “Dallas 500,” one of only six real estate attorneys to be so honored. He also has been named a “Best Lawyer in Dallas” by D magazine.

Albon Head has practiced in the federal and state courts in Texas and in numerous other jurisdictions since 1971, specializing in complex business litigation, contract disputes, receivership proceedings, fiduciary liability, real estate conflicts, eminent domain, pipeline and right-of-way litigation, railroad litigation, and litigation involving farm and ranch properties (including partitions). He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was named “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters and “Attorney of Excellence” and “Power Attorney” by the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In This Story

Albon O. Head, Jr.
Partner, Fort Worth

Wayne F. Malecha
Partner, Dallas