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COA rules for first time on retroactivity of Mineral Lapse Act

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a portion of the Mineral Lapse Act is limited in its retroactive application to only the 20-year period immediately proceeding the Sept. 2, 1971, effective date of the Act.

The first impression issue arose in Richard J. Bond and Janet A. Bond, et al. v. Templeton Coal Company, Inc., 42A01-1209-PL-419, in which Richard and Janet Bond challenged the grant of summary judgment to Templeton Coal Co. on its complaint to quiet title to certain mineral interests. The Bonds owned the real property having underlying coal and other minerals that had been conveyed to Templeton in 1960 by way of a merger. The Bonds claimed that Templeton’s interests in the minerals lapsed under the Act due to nonuse for 20 or more consecutive years, so the Bonds were the proper owners under the law.

Indiana Code 32-23-10-2 says that any interest in minerals if unused for 20 years is extinguished, with ownership reverting to the owner of the interest out of which the interest in minerals was carved. A statement of claim under this section must be filed by the owner of the mineral interest before the end of the 20-year period.

The Bonds believed that based on a 35-year period of nonuse between 1929 and 1964, Templeton’s mineral interest lapsed, despite the fact it paid taxes on those interests from 1964 on, which constitutes a use under I.C. 32-23-10-3(a)(6).

The COA determined that based on the original language of the Act, there is some retroactivity to the statute, but not as far back as the Bonds would like. It determined that Section 2 is ambiguous and should be construed to limit the application to the 20 years immediately preceding the effective date of the Act.

“Indeed, the Bonds fail to consider that, at the time Templeton’s interests were not used, 1929-1964, that nonuse was wholly consistent with the common law,” Judge Edward Najam wrote, agreeing with the rationale laid out by the District Court in the Southern District of Indiana’s decision in Am. Land Holdings of Ind. LLC v. Jobe, 655 F. Supp. 2d 882, 890 (S.D. Ind. 2009). “Considering Section 2’s ambiguity, the rule to strictly construe acts in derogation of the common law, and the Act’s underlying purposes, we hold that Section 2 is limited in its retroactive application to only the twenty-year period immediately preceding the effective date of the Act, or September 2, 1951.”

The judges affirmed summary judgment for Templeton, agreeing that Templeton holds the record title to the mineral interests and that there has been no lapse of the mineral interests under the Act.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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