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Seccombe v. Rohde

Supreme Court of North Dakota

January 15, 2019

George Seccombe, Barbara Treska, Erik Naesset, Helge Naesset, Astri Holst, Irene Markle, and Alice Nasset, Plaintiffs and Appellants
v.
Bradley C. Rohde and Karen D. Rohde, Trustees of the Bradley C. Rohde Living Trust dated June 22, 2010, Anita Rohde, Trustee of the Anita Rohde Living Trust UDT October 8, 2009, Dennis Rohde, Trustee of the Dennis Rohde Living Trust UDT October 8, 2009, Gary Rohde; Bradley Rohde; Dennis Rohde; Northern Oil and Gas, Inc., Ryan Family Mineral Partnership, S. Reger Family Mineral Partnership, S. Reger Family, Inc., Kootenia Resources Corporation, Summerfield C. Baldridge, Beartooth Ridge Resources, Inc., Montana Oil Properties, Inc., Lakeside State Bank, and all persons unknown claiming any estate or interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon the property described in the complaint, Defendants and Appellees and Slawson Exploration Company, Inc. and Alameda Energy, Inc., Plaintiffs-Intervenors and Appellants

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

          Rachel A. Bruner (argued), Patrick W. Durick (on brief), and Benjamin W. Keup (on brief), Bismarck, ND, for plaintiffs and appellants.

          George Seccombe, Barbara Treska, Erik Naesset, Helge Naesset, Astri Holst, Irene Markle, and Alice Nasset. Adam M. Olschlager (argued), Griffin B. Stevens (appeared), and Uriah J. Price (on brief), Bozeman, MT, for plaintiffs-intervenors and appellants.

          Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc. Scott M. Knudsvig (argued), and Matthew H. Olson (on brief), Minot, ND, for defendants and appellees.

          Anita Rohde, Bradley C. Rohde, Dennis Rohde, Gary Rohde, and Karen D. Rohde. Andrew D. Cook (argued), Michel W. Stefonowicz (on brief), Robert G. Hoy (on brief), West Fargo, ND, and Loren J. O'Toole II (on brief), Plentywood, MT, for defendants and appellees.

          Ryan Family Mineral Partnership, S. Reger Family Mineral Partnership, S. Reger Family, Inc., Kootenia Resources Corporation, Summerfield C. Baldridge, Beartooth Ridge Resources, Inc., and Montana Oil Properties, Inc. Richard P. Olson (argued), and Wanda L. Fischer (on brief), Minot, ND, for defendant and appellee.

          Lakeside State Bank. Lawrence Bender (on brief), Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellee Northern Oil and Gas, Inc.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] George Seccombe and other heirs of Olaf Nasset ("Nasset heirs") and the intervener plaintiffs, Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc., appealed from a judgment deciding ownership of certain minerals in Mountrail County. We conclude the district court properly determined ownership of the minerals and did not err in dismissing the Nasset heirs' breach of fiduciary duty claim. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] Olaf Nasset owned real property in Mountrail County described as the southeast quarter of section 5 and the northeast quarter of section 8 of township 151 north, range 92 west. He owned fifty percent of the minerals in the property.

         [¶ 3] Olaf Nasset died in November 1961, and Lakeside State Bank was appointed the executor of his estate. On January 24, 1962, Lakeside petitioned the county court for authority to sell real property belonging to the estate. The petition stated it was in the best interest of the estate and the heirs to sell the real property described as:

Township 151 North, Range 92 West:
Section 5: SE1/4
Section 8: NE: [sic]
The estate reserved 1/2 of the mineral interest in and to the above described real estate.

         On February 26, 1962, the county court ordered the executor was authorized to sell the property, but the court stated, "The estate reserves a 1/2 mineral interest" in the property.

         [¶ 4] Notice of the sale of the property was published in a local newspaper in March 1962, describing the property for sale as:

TOWNSHIP 151 NORTH, RANGE 92 WEST, MOUNTRAIL COUNTY, NORTH DAKOTA:
Section 5: SE1/4
Section 8: NE1/4
The estate reserves a 1/2 mineral interest in and to the above described real estate.

         Gilbert Rohde bid on the property for $15, 600. Gilbert Rohde's bid included a legal description of the property without including the mineral reservation. On April 9, 1962, Lakeside filed a report of sale of real property. The report contained the legal description of the property without the mineral reservation.

         [¶ 5] On April 9, 1962, the county court confirmed the sale and described the property sold as, "Southeast Quarter (SE1/4) of Section Five (5) and Northeast Quarter (NE1/4) of Section Eight (8), Township One Hundred Fifty-one (151) North, Range Ninety-Two (92) West of the Fifth Principal Meridian." On April 16, 1962, an executor's deed transferring the property to Gilbert Rohde was recorded in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Mountrail County. The executor's deed described the property as "Southeast Quarter (SE1/4) of Section Five (5) and Northeast Quarter (NE1/4) of Section Eight (8), Township One Hundred Fifty-one (151) North, Range Ninety-Two (92) West of the Fifth Principal Meridian."

         [¶ 6] On April 25, 1962, the county court entered an amended order confirming the sale of the real property. The amended order included a description of the property stating the property sold is:

Southeast Quarter (SE1/4) of Section Five (5) and Northeast Quarter (NE1/4) of Section Eight (8), Township One Hundred Fifty-one (151) North, Range Ninety-two (92) ...

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