Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nelson v. Mattson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

April 10, 2018

Linda D. Nelson, Jill E. Mattson, Jeffery C. Mattson and Joan Louise Mattson, Plaintiffs and Appellants
v.
Steven R. Mattson; Joyleen A. Mattson; Steven R. Mattson and Joyleen A. Mattson as Trustees of the Steven R. Mattson Living Trust, dated April 12, 2012; Roald Mattson; Marilyn Mattson; Roald F. Mattson and Marilyn Mattson, Trustees of the Roald F. Mattson Living Trust, dated February 5, 2007; Defendants and Appellees and Crescent Point Energy U.S. Corp.; and all other persons unknown claiming any estate or interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon, the property described in the complaint, Defendants

          Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Joshua B. Rustad, Judge.

          Skiff R. Larson, Chandler, Arizona, for plaintiffs and appellants.

          Richard P. Olson (argued) and Wanda L. Fischer (on brief), Minot, North Dakota, for defendants and appellees.

          OPINION

          TUFTE, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Linda Nelson, Jill Mattson, Jeffrey Mattson, and Joan Louise Mattson appeal from the district court's judgment quieting title to property in the Steven R. Mattson Living Trust and the Roald F. Mattson Living Trust (the "Trusts"), and awarding damages to Steven R. Mattson, the Steven R. Mattson Living Trust, and the Roald F. Mattson Living Trust (collectively, the "Mattsons"). Because the joint tenancy between Leif, Alf, and Roald Mattson was not severed prior to Leif Mattson's death, the district court did not clearly err by quieting title to property in the Trusts. Further, the district court did not clearly err by awarding damages to the Trusts for the oil and gas lease payments under a theory of conversion. However, the district court erred by awarding damages to Steven Mattson for the amount he paid to Leif's heirs for the purported interest they owned in the surface of the property because unjust enrichment was unavailable and the voluntary payment doctrine applies. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 1973, Julia Alvstad deeded real estate in Williams County (the "Property") to her sons Leif, Alf, and Roald Mattson (the "Mattson Brothers") as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The Mattson Brothers farmed and leased the Property together, equally sharing income and expenses. The business, RAL Farm, filed partnership tax returns.

         [¶ 3] Leif Mattson died in 2001, leaving his estate to his children--Linda Nelson, Jill Mattson, Jeffrey Mattson, Douglas Mattson, and Kevin Mattson. Kevin Mattson died in 2008, leaving his estate to his spouse, Joan Louise Mattson. Leif's children received rental payments for a one-third interest in the Property.

         [¶ 4] The district court found that in 2003, Alf Mattson deeded his one-third interest in the Property to his nephew, Steven Mattson. In 2010, Leif's heirs and successors sold to Steven Mattson by quitclaim deed a one-third interest, reserving mineral rights. Leif's children continued to receive one-third of the payments under certain oil and gas leases of the Property.

         [¶ 5] In 2012, Steven and Joyleen Mattson transferred Steven's purported two-thirds ownership interest in the Property to the Steven R. Mattson Living Trust. In 2013, Roald and Marilyn Mattson transferred to the Roald F. Mattson Living Trust Roald's purported one-third ownership interest in the Property. After having a law firm review the chain of title in the Property, Steven Mattson advised Leif's children in 2013 that they had sold him land he already owned and that they were wrongfully receiving payment for minerals they did not own. Douglas Mattson entered into a release of all claims with Steven Mattson.

         [¶ 6] Following a bench trial, the district court concluded that "at the death of Leif Mattson, his 1/3 ownership in the subject property automatically transferred to Alf and Roald Mattson as surviving joint tenants, each with a 1/2 interest in the subject real property, " and that "the sale of Alf Mattson's 1/3 interest to Steve Mattson severed the joint tenancy, with Steve and Roald Mattson each then owning a 1/2 interest as tenants in common." The court quieted title to the Property in Steve and Roald's successors-in-interest, the Trusts. Further, the district court awarded Steven Mattson damages for the amount that he paid to Leif's heirs for their purported one-third interest in the surface of the Property under unjust enrichment, and awarded the Trusts damages for the oil and gas lease payments made on the Property under the theories of unjust enrichment and conversion.

         II

         [¶ 7] The Appellants argue that the Mattson Brothers formed a partnership, RAL Farm. The district court found that the Mattson Brothers had formed a joint venture. Whether the Mattson Brothers' relationship is categorized as a partnership or as a joint venture for this dispute does not affect the outcome here. See SPW Associates, LLP v. Anderson, 2006 ND 159, ¶ 8, 718 N.W.2d 580 (stating, "A joint venture is generally considered akin to a partnership, although more limited in scope and duration, and principles of partnership law apply to the joint venture relationship."). In SPW Associates, we sustained the district court's determination that a supplier and builder were involved in a joint venture to build airplanes, and concluded that the supplied parts became joint venture property. Id. at ¶ 17. Thus, property can be owned by a joint venture, much as property can be owned by a partnership. See id.; see also Kelly v. Lang, 62 N.W.2d 770, 774 (N.D. 1953); Gehl ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.