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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 4 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Richard J. Bond and Janet A. Bond, et al. v. Templeton Coal Company, Inc., a 14-page opinion, Judge Najam writes:

Richard J. Bond and Janet A. Bond (“the Bonds”) appeal the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Templeton Coal Company, Inc. (“Templeton”) on Templeton’s complaint to quiet title to certain mineral interests. The Bonds present a single issue for our review, which we restate as whether Templeton’s use of the mineral interests from 1964 to the present, following a thirty-five-year period of nonuse, precludes lapse of those interests under the Indiana Mineral Lapse Act, Indiana Code Sections 32-23-10-1 to -8 (“the Act”) [aka the Dormant Mineral Act]. We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Templeton. * * *

Conversely, if an owner of mineral interests on September 2, 1951, failed to use those interests during the twenty-year period between then and the effective date of the Act, the Act granted the owner an additional two-year grace period to file a statement of claim to preserve its interests. But if the owner began to use its mineral interests after September 2, 1951, and before the effective date of the Act, there is no twenty-year period of nonuse for purposes of the Act and, hence, no lapse of the interests.

The latter scenario is what the parties’ stipulated facts demonstrate happened here. After a thirty-five-year period of nonuse from 1929 to 1964, Templeton began paying appropriate taxes on its mineral interests, which is a “use” of those interests under Indiana Code Section 32-23-10-3(a)(6). Templeton has paid its taxes on those interests every year since 1964. The trial court entered a detailed and well-reasoned order for summary judgment on the issue of retroactivity, and we agree with the court that on the stipulated facts Templeton holds the record title to the mineral interests and that there has been no lapse of the mineral interests under the Act.[12] Therefore, we affirm.
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[12] The trial court acknowledged the extraordinary quality of the lawyering in this case as follows:

The Court commends counsel for the parties on what is truly a shining example of masterful lawyering on behalf of their clients that distilled down to one count of the complaint the central issue in a massive, complex piece of litigation involving thousands of acres, thousands of pages of title and tax documentation, and an area of the law that is a matter of first impression in Indiana state courts concerning the interpretation and application of the Mineral Lapse Act.
NFP civil opinions today (2):

Hugo Torres v. City of Hammond (NFP)

Maria Collaros v. Gary Community School Corp. (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (2):

Lee Yoder v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Christopher S. Edwards v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 15, 2013 10:06 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions