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Siana Oil & Gas Co., L.L.C. v. Dublin Co.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 11, 2018

Siana Oil & Gas Co., L.L.C., Plaintiff
v.
Dublin Co.; Greg & Nancy Vance Family LP; Richard Lyons Moore; Michael Harrison Moore; William Joy Charitable Trust; Stephens Scott Moore Test; Kasmer & Aafedt Oil, Inc.; Doris Muggli Trust; Kirby Family Trust; Ashley Resources; Evelyn Margaret Rauch; Brenda Hecht Chupp; Daniel McCarthy Trust; Perrine 850II Trust; Cheryl Miltonberger; Rollin A. Warner; James L. Taylor; Edgar J. Cooper; William H. Wallraff; Dana C. Eckenback; O.H. Olson; O.B. Herigstad; Marsha R. Butler McGovern; Craig McGovern; Kirk McGovern; Oscar Herum; Rensch Family Mineral Trust; Larry R. Swan; Lisa M. Swan; Scott M. Swann; Avalon North LLC; Dakota West Energy LLC; Timothy P. Olson; Barbara A. Kelly; Gregory F. Olson; John M. Landry; Laura Conzet; Donna Landry Sorenson; Hazel Jean Babier Life Estate; Lary & Fay Moberg; James Moberg; Belden Moberg; Tyrell Moberg; John Moberg; Kerry Stone; Melissa Fevold; Chandra Stone; Alletta Stone; Jenica Stone; Celeste Stonecipher; Marilyn Querciagrossa; Anthony Querciagrossa; Kimberly Querciagrossa; Michael Querciagrossa; Gerry Hammond; Corrina Beesley-Hammond; Kimberly Murillo; Joseph Paul Huber; Kathleen Patricia Huber Garvin; and Kelly H. Baxter Estate, Defendants and Robert J. Kellogg; Joseph R. Kellogg; Terry L. Harris; Defendants and Appellees and Greggory G. Tank;, Defendant and Appellant Greggory G. Tank, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
ABH Baxter LP aka Baxtro LLC aka Blairbax LLC aka Buffy Energy LLC, Terry L. Harris, 4M Minerals, LLLP, Joseph R. Kellogg, Robert J. Kellogg, Defendants and Appellees and Sarah Anderson, Ashley Resources, Inc., Avalon North LLC, Hazel Jean Bahler, Sandra Bahler Byrd, Corrina Beesley-Hammond, The Bishop of Bismarck Diocese, Lucille Broyles, Chaparral Energy LLC, Brenda Hecht a/k/a Brenda Hecht Chupp, Laura Conzet, Edgar J. Cooper a/k/a Edgar J. Couper, Dakota West Energy LLC, The Dublin Company, Dana Eckenbeck, Melissa Fevold, Kathleen P. Huber-Garvin, Gerry Hammond, Brenda Hecht, Carol Ann Hedberg-Nayes, Elaine Lenore Hedberg-Anderson, Laurenitus Arthur Hedberg, Greg W. Hennessy, James R. Herigstad, Oscar Herum, H.H. Hester, Pringle Family Mineral Trust, Jane F. Hirst, Trustee, The Personal Representative of the Estate of Bernice Huber, Joseph Paul Huber, The Personal Representative of the Estate of Paul J. Huber, Douglas C. Jarrett, Kasmer & Aafedt Oil, Inc., Barbara A. Kelly, Kirby Family Trust, Virginia J. Kirby and Jerry L. Kirby as Co-Trustees, Trust B created by Last Will and Testament of Ward M. Kirby dated August 30, 1984, Virginia J. Kirby and Jeffrey K. Kirby, as Co-Trustees, J. H. Kline, Kathy J. Kuntz, John M. Landry, Susan Manning, Daniel McCarthy Trust U/A dated July 9, 1976, American Bank & Trust Company, Trustee, Daniel T. McCarthy Trust, Bremer Trust, N.A., Trustee, Craig McGovern, Kirk McGovern, Marsha R. Butler McGovern, Cheryl Miltonberger, Belden Moberg, James Moberg, John Moberg, Larry Moberg and Fayann a/k/a Fay Moberg, Tyrell Moberg, Kevin Moore SSMTT GTES Exempt Trust as revised and restated on December 22, 2008, Kevin Moore, Trustee, Kevin Moore SSMTT Nonexempt Trust as revised and restated on December 22, 2008, Kevin Moore, Trustee, Michael Harrison Moore, Richard Lyons Moore, Ryan Moore SSMTT OST Exempt Trust as revised and restated on December 22, 2008, Ryan Moore, Trustee, Ryan Moore SSMTT Nonexempt Trust as revised and restated on December 22, 2008, Ryan Moore, Trustee, Doris Muggli Trust U/T/A DDT 7/18/85, Mary Ann Muggli Haws and John Muggli Co-Trustees, Trust Agreement dated 8-21-81, Doris Muggli, Trustee, Kimberly Murillo, C.M. Nelson, Gregory F. Olson, 0.H. Olson, Timothy P. Olson, Trust Agreement dated December 22, 1937, S. Alden Perrine and Verne E. Joy, Trustees, Perrine 850II Trust, William S. Perrine and John A. Perrine, as Co-Trustees, William Joy Charitable Trust, U/D/T/DTD 11-30-88-ARI, Alden J. Perrine, Trustee, Michael Purdy, Anthony Querciagrossa, Kimberly Querciagrossa, Marilyn Querciagrossa, Michael Querciagrossa, EMR Revocable Trust dated January 25, 1978 Lloyd R. Rauch and Evelyn Margaret Rauch, Co-Trustees, Evelyn Jean Reneer, Rensch Family Mineral Trust, Harold J. Rensch, Trustee, Brian Sorenson and Donna L. Sorenson Revocable Living Trust by declaration of trust dated November 9, 2011, Brian Sorenson and Donna Landry Sorenson, Trustees, Alletta Stone, Chandra Stone, Jenica Stone, Kerry Stone, Celeste Stonecipher, The Personal Representative of the Estate of Ann L. Swan, Lisa M. Swan, Scott M. Swan, Helen Webster, Personal Representative of the Estate of James L. Taylor, Greg and Nancy Vance Family Limited Partnership, Jeffrey Vanlaningham, William H. Wallraff, Rollin A. Warner, J.C. Zeller, Sharon Sketting, Personal Representative of the Estate of J.H. Klein, Joan R. Toohey, Personal Representative of the Estate of J.C. Zeller and Ruth Wallrath and Executrix of the Estate of J.C. Zeller, The Personal Representative of the Estate of H.H. Hester, Stephen W. Pollard, Personal Representative of the Estate of Rollin A. Warner, The Personal Representative of the Estate of James L. Taylor, Charger Resources LLC, Siana Oil & Gas Co., LLC, 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 McKenzie County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Daniel Saleh El-Dweek, Judge.

          Derrick L. Braaten (argued) and David C. Keagle (appeared), Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff and appellant Greggory G. Tank.

          Spencer D. Ptacek (argued), Lawrence Bender (appeared), and Michael D. Schoepf (on brief), Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee Terry L. Harris.

          Shawn A. Grinolds (on brief), Bismarck, ND, for defendants and appellees Baxtro LLC, Blairbax LLC, and Buffy Energy LLC. Charles M. Carvell (appeared), Bismarck, ND, for defendants and appellees Robert J. Kellogg and Joseph R. Kellogg.

          Bryan L. Van Grinsven (on brief), Minot, ND, for defendants and appellees 4M Minerals, LLLP.

          OPINION

          Jensen, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Greggory Tank appeals from an amended judgment quieting title to royalty interests in property located in McKenzie County in favor of several of the defendants ("the defendants"). We reverse the district court's amended judgment quieting title to the royalty interests in favor of the defendants and direct the entry of judgment quieting title in favor of Tank. We remand this case to the district court for determination of whether Tank is barred from the recovery of royalty payments previously made to the defendants and, if not barred, the amount of the recovery.

         I

         [¶ 2] In June 2014, Tank sued numerous defendants seeking to quiet title to royalty interests in proceeds from the production from an oil and gas well. Most of the defendants did not appear or settled with Tank. The remaining defendants who are the appellees in this appeal contested the quiet title action initiated by Tank.

         [¶ 3] The royalty interests at issue were subject to several possible conveyances. Tank claims ownership of a 16 percent royalty interest based on an unbroken chain of title utilizing filed county records dating back to the federal fee patent. Included within that chain of title is a 1931 purchase of the property by McKenzie County under a tax foreclosure sale. The County subsequently sold and transferred the property in 1945.

         [¶ 4] The defendants claim various percentages of royalty interests under a recorded 1938 assignment of an 11 percent royalty to oil and gas produced on the property. The 1938 assignment was granted by Hagen J. Carlson and Esther Carlson. The defendants responded to the complaint asserting that Tank's claim was barred by the Marketable Record Title Act ("MRTA") under N.D.C.C. ch. 47-19.1, the statute of limitations provided in N.D.C.C. § 28-01-05, adverse possession and laches. The defendants' 11 percent interest is within the interest claimed by Tank. The defendants requested a judgment in their favor quieting title to their 11 percent collective interest.

         [¶ 5] The parties brought cross-motions for summary judgment. In response to Tank's motion for summary judgment, the defendants did not produce any evidence that their, or any, mineral interests had been severed from the property prior to McKenzie County's 1931 acquisition of the property through the tax lien foreclosure. The defendants did not produce any evidence of a transfer from McKenzie County to any other party after the 1931 tax lien foreclosure and before McKenzie County's sale and transfer of the property in 1945 to Tank's predecessors in interest. The defendants did contend that Tank's claim to the royalty interest failed as a matter of law, and in the alternative, that there are material questions of fact regarding the validity of McKenzie County's acquisition of the property through the tax lien foreclosure proceedings, asserting that Tank failed to prove that McKenzie County had properly served the owner of the property as required in the tax lien foreclosure proceedings.

         [¶ 6] The district court granted summary judgment quieting title in favor of the defendants. The order documenting the district court's determination was prepared by counsel for the defendants and summarily concluded that "all of the defenses [asserted by the defendants] are well-founded and apply." No further analysis of the defenses is provided in the order. The order stated, without analysis, that the defendants had proven the ...


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