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Johnson v. Shield

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 13, 2015

Eric Arthur Johnson, a/k/a Eric A. Johnson, Eric A. Johnson as Trustee of the Jerol Johnson Trust created under the Betty J. Johnson Revocable Living Trust Agreement dated June 21, 2010, Jerol Johnson, and the Art Johnson and Annabel Johnson Family LLP, a limited liability partnership organized under the laws of the State of North Dakota, Plaintiffs and Appellants
v.
Suzanne M. Shield, Sandra Guthrie King, Lynda Lynn Guthrie, William Arlo Guthrie, Roy Goldenberg, F. Peter Bergman, Pamela Jane Crawford, John W. Bergman, Bradley C. Bergman, William Eric Bergman, and Williams County, a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of North Dakota, and all other persons unknown claiming any estate or interest in or lien or encumbrance upon the real property described in the Complaint, whether as heirs, legatees, devisees, personal representatives, creditors or otherwise, Defendants, Suzanne M. Shield, Sandra Guthrie King, Lynda Lynn Guthrie, William Arlo Guthrie, F. Peter Bergman, Pamela Jane Crawford, John W. Bergman, Bradley C. Bergman, William Eric Bergman, Appellees

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Robin A. Schmidt, Judge.

Andrew D. Cook, West Fargo, N.D., for plaintiffs and appellants.

David A. Tschider, Bismarck, N.D., for defendants and appellees Suzanne M. Shield, Sandra Guthrie King, Lynda Lynn Guthrie, and William Arlo Guthrie.

William E. Bergman (on brief), Minot, N.D., for defendants and appellees F. Peter Bergman, Pamela Jane Crawford, John W. Bergman, Bradley C. Bergman, and William Eric Bergman.

Dale V. Sandstrom, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Daniel J. Crothers, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

OPINION

Page 369

Dale V. Sandstrom, Justice.

[¶1] Eric A. Johnson and others appeal from a summary judgment quieting title to certain Williams County mineral interests in Suzanne M. Shield and others. Because the disputed language in the challenged warranty deed presents no genuine issue of material fact that the grantors intended to reserve to themselves 50 percent

Page 370

of the mineral interests in the conveyed property, we affirm the judgment.

I

[¶2] Shield and the other defendants (collectively " Shield" ) are successors in interest to Eugenie and Roy Goldenberg, who on December 8, 1942, granted through a warranty deed a certain tract of Williams County property to Julian and Arthur Johnson. Johnson and the other plaintiffs (collectively " Johnson" ) are the successors in interest to Julian and Arthur Johnson. At the time of the conveyance, Eugenie and Roy Goldenberg were the owners of all of the minerals associated with the property. The granting clause in the warranty deed did not address mineral interests, but the warranty clause of the deed stated that the Goldenbergs

" covenant . . . that they are well seized in fee of land, real estate and premises aforesaid, and have good right to sell and convey the same in manner and form aforesaid; that the same are free from all incumbrances, but reserving, however, to the grantor fifty per cent (50%) of all of the oil, gas, ...

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