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Case brief thread

Found this thread, not all cases have to do w/ mining but there are a few, such as valuable mineral deposit (2nd one down (they tried to say water was a valuable mineral deposit)). Geomet vs Lucky (pedis possessio), when checking the cases use the first case brief slection. Happy searching


These are just a synopsis of the case, you'll have to do a search to view the full findings.


Found this interesting regarding a split estate, though Duncan lost you'll note the mineral estate is dominant.

Duncan Energy Company v. United States Forest Service
50 F.3d 584 (8th Cir. 1995)

The Federal government acquired the surface rights (aka the surface estate) to some land in North Dakota and made it into a National Forest.
However, the Federal government did not acquire the mineral rights. Those ended up in the hands of a company called Meridian.
That's known as a split estate, where one person owns the mineral estate and another person owns the surface estate.
Meridian entered an agreement with Duncan to drill for oil. They entered a memorandum of understanding with the US Forest Service to develop a surface-use plan that would preserve the forest while still allowing the companies to get their oil.
Things went ok for a while, but then the Forest Service came to the conclusion that National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) required them to write an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before drilling could start.
That caused problems for Duncan because if they didn't start drilling soon they would be in breach of their contract with Meridian.
Duncan claimed they had an absolute right to get their oil and started building a road through the forest. The Forest Service canceled the memorandum of understanding. Everybody started suing everybody.
Duncan and Meridian argued that they owned the mineral estate, and that based on North Dakota law, the Forest Service could not prohibit access or regulate their privately-owned estate.
The Forest Service argued that Duncan had improperly used the Federally-owned surface estate without authorization, and that Federal law gives the Forest Service the authority to approve surface-use plans.
The Trial Court found for Duncan. The Forest Service appealed.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found that in general, the mineral estate is dominant, which means that the rights of the mineral estate holder take precedent over the rights of the surface estate holder.
However, Court found that the mineral developers rights are limited to using only as much of the surface as reasonably necessary to get the minerals.
The Court found that the Forest Service has the right to determine what would be reasonably necessary to get the minerals. The Court deferred to the Forest Service's judgment that an EIS was required to determine what would be reasonable for Duncan to do.

Once again the appeals court went rouge and based it's findings not on law, but  how to appease a government agency, even if that means that the court  grants power and rights that can not be found in law.  The USFS has no such rights or responsibility and once the grant is involked, the USFS and or any other agency has no right to revolk.  The USFS did not not own the land at the time they changed their mind, therefore they have no standing in the matter.

I also have strong objections to the "Johnny Come Lately" concept that the USFS involked and the appeals court seemed unconcerned with.  But it is a major issue, if one is concerned with the timing of the matter.  

Where in law did the appeals court find, that an agency can change it's agreements, once the agreements have been acted on?  Where in law, did the appeals court find a "Statute of Limitations", or lack thereof, that allowed that court to invalidate a contract, in which the USFS clearly breached?

So the fight continues and this is why I formed this website....

I think it's perfectly Effects lot.

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