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Payment of ‘ad valorem’ taxes sustain ownership in mineral interest

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Reversing the trial court’s ruling, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that a woman’s payment of “ad valorem” taxes on a mineral interest in Posey County prevented the lapse of her partial ownership.

Carolyn Sue Stinson appealed Posey Circuit Court’s finding that she had not paid real estate taxes on the ownership of the mineral interest and that any taxes she did pay on the royalties were not publicly documented.

The appellee, George Woodcock III, argued Stinson’s mineral interest lapsed because her tax payments were for “ad valorem” taxes.

In L.C. Westervelt, Margaret Fox, Joe Dan Trigg, Attorney-in-fact and Trustee for Lillian Guild, Marilyn Guild Ramah Lee Jones, Janice Trigg and the Guild Family Trust, Barbara Killen, Patricia Kunc, Jacqueline Medley, Paul Fennessey, Carolyn Sue Stinson, R.D. Jones, Inc., and their unknown spouses, grantees, representatives, successors, heirs, and devisees v. George Woodcock III, d/b/a West Drilling Company, 65A01-1311-PL-501, the Court of Appeals declined to read the statute as narrowly as Woodcock.

The COA noted Indiana Code 32-23-10-3(a) says a lapse in a mineral interest is prevented when “taxes are paid on the mineral interest by the owner of the mineral interest.”

Also the Court of Appeals found evidence contradicting Woodcock’s assertion that Stinson’s tax payments do not appear in the public record. The COA pointed out the county did keep track of Stinson’s mineral ownership by assessing taxes on her interest and generating tax statements that included legal descriptions and well numbers.

 “But even if Woodcock is correct that the County’s records do not include all the information they should, we decline to hold Stinson may be divested of her mineral rights solely by virtue of the Posey County Auditor’s recordkeeping procedures,” Judge Melissa May wrote.

Judge L. Mark Bailey concurred with the result but, in a separate opinion, argued the majority did not have to inquire into whether and how taxes were paid and recorded.

Since oil has continued to be drilled from the property associated with Stinson’s mineral interest, Bailey contended the plain language of the statute says that was enough to sustain her ownership.
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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