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Hallin v. Lyngstad

Supreme Court of North Dakota

September 25, 2013

Joan Marie Hallin and John P. Hallin and Susan Kay Bradford, Plaintiffs and Appellees
v.
Jack Lyngstad, a/k/a John Lyngstad; Lorraine F. Lyngstad, Robert G. Lyngstad, Jr., and John O. Lyngstad III, as co-trustees of the Robert G. Lyngstad QTIP Trust; Edna Moses, James J. Moses, Jr., a/k/a James Moses, a/k/a Jay Moses, as personal representative of the Estate of Edna J. Moses, a/k/a Edna Moses, deceased; Steve Tillotson; Carol Tillotson; and Ellen Tillotson, a/k/a Reverend Ellen Tillotson, Defendants and Appellants

Appeal from the District Court of Mountrail County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Gary H. Lee, Judge.

Kerry J. Carpenter, for plaintiffs and appellees.

Charlotte J. Skar, for defendants and appellants.

OPINION

Crothers, Justice.

[¶ 1] Defendants/Appellants ("Lyngstads") appeal from a summary judgment quieting title in the Plaintiffs/Appellees ("Hallins") to a 2/3 interest of an undivided 3/4 interest in minerals in land in Mountrail County. We conclude the legal effect of a 1960 warranty deed's plain language, excepting and expressly reserving "unto the Grantors" an "undivided 3/4 interest" in the minerals, did not alter the grantors' proportion of ownership existing before execution of the 1960 deed. We affirm.

I

[¶ 2] This appeal arises out of a quiet title action for mineral interests in Mountrail County described as:

"Township 153 North, Range 92 West
Section 14: S1/2SW1/4
Section 23: N1/2NW1/4."

The parties are the heirs and successors-in-interest to the grantors on the 1960 warranty deed conveying the above property. Lyngstads are successors-in-interest to Emma and John Lyngstad, and Hallins are successors-in-interest to Walter and Esther Brandt. The district court quieted title in the Hallins to a 2/3 interest of an undivided 3/4 interest in minerals in the above land. The parties do not dispute that, before execution of this 1960 deed, Emma Lyngstad owned a 1/3 interest in the surface and the minerals in the property and Walter Brandt owned a 2/3 interest in the surface and the minerals in the property.

[¶ 3] The grantors on the 1960 deed are identified as: "Emma L. Lyngstad and John O. Lyngstad, wife & husband, and Walter J. Brandt & Esther C. Brandt husband & wife." The 1960 deed also contains the following language after the legal description of the property:

" Excepting from the premises herein conveyed and expressly reserving unto the Grantors herein an undivided 3/4 interest in and to all of the Oil, gas, and other minerals in and under and that may be produced from the lands herein described, together with the right of ingress and egress at all times for the purpose of mining, drilling, exploring, operating and developing said lands for oil, gas, casinghead gas, casinghead gasoline, and other minerals, and storing, handling, transporting and marketing the same therefrom."

(Emphasis added.) The parties agree the grantors in the 1960 deed together conveyed 100 percent of the surface of the property and 1/4 of the minerals to the grantee, R.I. Hukkanen. The parties also agree that together they all own 3/4 of the mineral interests in the property, but they dispute the proportion of ownership in the minerals ...


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