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Virginia Carkuff, Greg Carkuff, Mercedes Carkuff, Joy Krush and v. Jeffrey Balmer

March 22, 2011

VIRGINIA CARKUFF, GREG CARKUFF, MERCEDES CARKUFF, JOY KRUSH AND VALERIE CARKUFF-LOMMEN,
PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS
v.
JEFFREY BALMER, LAURIE BALMER, MIKE L. MCALMOND, CAROLYN MCALMOND, JEFF K. MCALMOND, ANGELA S. MCALMOND, ELAINE COLLINS, SHARON HORNE WOODMANSEE, JOANN SUTTON, JOHN F. SUTTON, SCOTT J. MCALMOND, IVALEE MCALMOND, RANDALL W. MCALMOND, MELISSA A. MCALMOND, LINDA HORNE, KENT J. HORNE, JANICE J. HORNE AND RICHARD R. BALMER; AND ALL OTHER PERSONS UNKNOWN WHO HAVE OR CLAIM AN INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THE COMPLAINT, DEFENDANTS AND APPELLEES



Appeal from the District Court of Mountrail County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable William W. McLees, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.

N.D. Supreme CourtCarkuff v. Balmer,

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents][Download as WordPerfect]

2011 ND 60

AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice.

[¶1] Virginia Carkuff, Greg Carkuff, Mercedes Carkuff, Joy Krush and Valerie Carkuff-Lommen ("Carkuffs") appeal from a summary judgment quieting title to minerals in certain real property in the defendants ("Balmers") and holding the Carkuffs had no interest in mineral rights in the land. We affirm, construing the relevant October 20, 1953, deed as a quitclaim deed which does not pass after-acquired title.

I

[¶2] Numerous conveyances between family members in the 1950s and 1960s led to this title dispute between the Carkuffs and the Balmers. Alice Carkuff had one son and four daughters. Her son, James Carkuff, is the predecessor in interest to the Carkuffs, and her daughters, Alta Quinn, June McAlmond, Genevieve Balmer, and Leila Horne, are the predecessors in interest to the Balmers.

[¶3] On June 11, 1953, Alice Carkuff executed a "mineral" deed granting "an undivided entire (100%) interest" in and to all of the oil, gas, casinghead gas, casinghead gasoline, and other minerals in and under the land in Mountrail County to Alta Quinn, June McAlmond, Genevieve Balmer, and Leila Horne. The same day Alice Carkuff also executed a "quitclaim" deed, granting only the surface rights of the land to James Carkuff. Both the mineral deed and the quitclaim deed were recorded on October 25, 1955. Meanwhile, on October 20, 1953, Alice Carkuff executed a quitclaim deed to James Carkuff for the property, which was recorded on February 1, 1954.

[¶4] On June 13, 1958, James Carkuff executed a deed conveying the "surface rights only" of the property back to his mother Alice Carkuff, and this deed was recorded on June 16, 1958. Also on June 13, 1958, Alice Carkuff executed a deed conveying the "surface rights only" of the property back to James Carkuff, which was later recorded on December 22, 1965. On May 4, 1959, by four separate quitclaim deeds, Alta Quinn, June McAlmond, Genevieve Balmer and Leila Horne, and their husbands, conveyed the mineral interests in the property back to Alice Carkuff. These four deeds were recorded on December 14, 1959. On April 18, 1963, Alice Carkuff again transferred the interest in the mineral rights of the property by quitclaim deed back to Genevieve Balmer, Leila Horne, Alta Quinn and June McAlmond. This deed was recorded on December 22, 1965.

[¶5] In 2008, the Carkuffs sued to quiet title in the oil, gas, and other minerals in the land. In 2009, the Balmers and the Carkuffs filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After a hearing, the district court granted the Balmers' motion, quieting title to the mineral rights in the land in the Balmers, concluding the Carkuffs did not have an interest in the minerals under the doctrine of after-acquired title. The district court held that the Carkuffs could not rely on the doctrine of after-acquired title to claim record title ownership of the minerals under the land because the doctrine did not apply in the context of quitclaim deeds. The court said the Carkuffs could not claim title to the minerals underlying the property under the October 20, 1953, quitclaim deed, in which Alice Carkuff conveyed all of her "right, title and interest" in the property to James Carkuff. The court reasoned that this quitclaim deed did not purport to convey the "property itself," but only Alice Carkuff's "right, title and interest (if any) therein." The court therefore held the deed did not have implied covenants annexed to it under the law, and it was not a grant and any after-acquired title did not pass by operation of law to James Carkuff or his successors in interest, the Carkuff plaintiffs, when Alice Carkuff's four daughters conveyed all of their right, title and interest in the minerals under the property back to their mother on May 4, 1959.

II

[¶6] Summary judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 56 is a procedural device to promptly and expeditiously dispose of a controversy without a trial if there is no genuine issue of material fact, or if the law is such that resolution of factual disputes will not alter the result. See Miller v. Kloeckner, 1999 ND 190, ¶ 5, 600 N.W.2d 881; Nygaard v. Continental Resources, Inc., 1999 ND 172, ¶ 7, 598 N.W.2d 851. On appeal, questions ...


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