The Fourth Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined unambiguous language in a deed is not subject to interpretation:
The construction of deeds generally “presents a question of law for the court to decide” … , and deeds must be “construed according to the intent of the parties, so far as such intent can be gathered from the whole instrument, and is consistent with the rules of law” (Real Property Law § 240 ). “The ‘intent’ to which [section 240 (3)] refers is the objective intent of the parties as manifested by the language of the deed” … . “[A] court will only look outside the four corners of the deed to establish the intent of the parties when . . . that instrument is found to be ambiguous” … .
In this case, pursuant to the unambiguous language of the corrected deed and the contract of sale referenced therein, Flower [defendant] transferred “all” of his oil, gas, and mineral rights in the premises … .It is a fundamental principle of deed construction that “[w]hen words have a definite and precise meaning, it is not permissible to go elsewhere in search of conjecture in order to restrict or extend the meaning” … . We conclude that, in determining that Flower intended to transfer … only his right to receive royalties while retaining his right to receive free gas, the court improperly restricted the meaning of the plain language of the corrected deed, particularly the word “all.” BPGS Land Holdings, LLC v Flower, 2021 NY Slip Op 05413, Fourth Dept 10-8-21