IN THE SUPREME COURT
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA
|Loren R. Larson, Kathryn L. Lervick, and Renee L. Larson,|
|Thelma Larson Norheim, Hans Norheim, Birgit Norheim Oyen, Kjellaug Norheim, Harald Tettum, Inge Oyen Norheim, Olav Oyen, and all other persons unknown claiming any estate or interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon the property described in the Complaint, whether as heirs, devisees, legatees, or personal representatives of any of the above named persons who may be deceased, or under any other title or interest.|
|Divide Cnty. Civ. Case No.: 12-08|
Supreme Court No.: 20120236
BRIEF OF DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES NORHEIM, ET. AL.
APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT ENTERED ON THE 19th DAY OF MARCH, 2012, IN DISTRICT COURT, COUNTY OF DIVIDE, STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE DAVID W. NELSON PRESIDING
|H. Malcolm Pippin (ND ID # 04682)|
|Charlotte J. Skar (ND ID # 06528)|
|Nilles Law Firm|
|3 4th St. E., Ste. 206|
|P.O. Box 1525|
|Williston, ND 58802-1525|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES|
|STATEMENT OF THE CASE|||
|STATEMENT OF FACTS|||
|LAW AND ARGUMENT|||
|I.||The District Court correctly decided that the Plaintiffs/Appellants were required by statute to engage in a reasonable inquiry to locate and notify the owners of the mineral interests, and corr|||
|II.||The District Court correctly decided the Defendants/Appellees preserved their ownership in the mineral interests that are the subject of this action and avoided lapse by filing an adequate|||
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES
|CASES Paragraph No.|
|Beavers v. Walters, 537 N.W.2d 647 (N.D. 1995)||26|
|Brigham Oil v. Lario Oil, 2011 ND 154, 801 N.W.2d 677||20|
|Dickinson Air Serv. V. Kadrmas, 397 N.W.2d 55 (N.D. 1986)||37|
|Energetics, Ltd. v. Whitmill, 497 N.W.2d 497 (Mich. 1993)||40|
|Feickert v. Frounfelter, 468 N.W.2d 131 (N.D. 1991)||20|
|Halvorson v. Starr, 2010 ND 133, 785 N.W.2d 248||22|
|Hanson v. Zoller, 187 N.W.2d 47 (N.D. 1971)||38|
|Johnson v. Taliaferro, 2011 ND, 793 N.W.2d 804||31|
|Oberlin v. Wolverine Gas & Oil, 450 N.W.2d 68 (Mich. App. 1989)||39, 41|
|Sorenson v. Felton, 2011 ND 33, 793 N.W.2d 799||16, 17, 18, 19, 21|
|Spring Creek Ranch, LLC v. Svenberg, 1999 ND 113, 595 N.W.2d 323||22|
|Stensrud v. Mayville State College, 368 N.W.2d 519 (N.D. 1985)||37|
|Stockman Bank of Montana v. Agsco, Inc., 2007 ND 27, 727 N.W.2d 742||37|
|Van Raden Homes, Inc. v . Dakota View Estates, 546 N.W.2d 843 (N.D. 1996)||37|
|Van Slooten v. Larsen, 299 N.W.2d 704 (1980)||39, 40|
|STATUTES AND RULES||Paragraph No.|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-01-03||34, 36|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-01-04||34|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-01-06||34|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-01-07||34|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-02-01||34|
|N.D.C.C. § 3-02-08||34|
|N.D.C.C. § 30.1-12-01||20|
|N.D.C.C. § 31-11-05||26|
|N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-02||29|
|N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-03||29|
|N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-04||28, 29, 38, 42|
|N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-05||28, 29, 31, 38|
|N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-06||17|
|Blacks Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009)||32|
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES
 I. The District Court correctly decided that the Plaintiffs/Appellants (hereafter "Larsons") were required by statute to engage in a reasonable inquiry to locate and notify the owners of the mineral interests, and correctly found that the Larsons failed their duty of a reasonable inquiry.
 II. The District Court correctly decided the Defendants/Appellees, Thelma Larson Norheim, Hans Norheim, Birgit Norheim Oyen, Kjellaug Norheim, Harald Tettum, Olav Oyen (hereafter "Norheim Heirs") preserved their ownership in the mineral interests that are the subject of this action and avoided lapse by filing an adequate and timely Statement of Claim.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
 The Norheim Heirs generally agree with the general statement of the case as set forth by the Larsons with the inclusion of some additional items.
 The Statement of Claim at issue in this case was executed by Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen, children of Norheim Heir Birgit Norheim Oyen, on behalf of the owners of the mineral interests and the Norheim Heirs, who were represented on the Statement of Claim by Birgit Norheim Oyen, Kjellaug Norheim, Harald Tettum, Inge Oyen, and Olav Oyen, (App. 87-88.) which is contrary to Larsons' contention in Paragraph 11 of their Brief.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
 The Norheim Heirs, as heirs to Thelma and Hans Norheim, are the owners of mineral interests that are the subject of this action. Larsons are surface owners. Thelma Norheim was the sister of Larsons' father Leonard Larson. (Trial Tr. 237.) Loren Larson, one of the Plaintiffs/Appellants, testified that Thelma Norheim was his aunt. (Trial Tr. 237.) Loren Larson admitted they knew of Thelma and Hans Larson, and were aware of their deaths. (Trial Tr. 237-38.)
 The Norheim Heirs are residents of Norway. (Trial Tr. 149, 188, 200, 205, 211, 216, 223, 267.) They are the heirs and relatives of Thelma (Larson) Norheim and Hans Norheim, husband and wife. (App. 51-52, 57-59, 130.) Thelma Norheim died in 1992, and her estate passed to her only heir at law, her husband Hans Norheim. (App. 51-52.) Hans Norheim died in 1998. (App. 57-59.) Hans Norheim's estate passed to the issue of his only sibling with issue, Eivind Norheim. (App. 57-59.) Eivind Norheim had four children. (Defs.' Am. Tr. Br. Regarding Lineage and Recorded Statement of Claim dated October 31, 2011 pp. 2-3, Docket ID # 44.) First, there was Margit Norheim Tettum, who died in 2000 and was survived by her three children Bente Tettum, Harald Tettum, and Kjetil Tettum. (Id.) Second is Birgit Norheim Oyen who is alive. (Id.) Third was Kittil Norheim who died in 1997 without any issue. (Id.) Fourth was Olav Norheim, who died in 1982 and was survived by his wife Kjellaug Norheim and their four children Eivind Norheim, Olav Norheim, Hans Norheim, and Sigmund Norheim. (Id.)
 Birgit Norheim Oyen is the heir through intestacy to one-third of the mineral interests that are the subject of this appeal.1 (Defs.' Am. Tr. Br. Regarding Lineage and Recorded Statement of Claim dated October 31, 2011 pp. 2-3, Docket ID # 44.) Bente Tettum, Harald Tettum, and Kjetil Tettum are together the heirs to one-third of the mineral interests (one-ninth individually). (Id.) Eivind Norheim, Olav Norheim, Hans Norheim, and Sigmund Norheim are together the heirs to one-third of the mineral interests (one-twelfth individually). (Id.)
 Larsons hired attorney Michel Stefonowicz to assist them in abandonment of mineral interest proceedings under N.D.C.C. ch. 38-18.1. (Trial Tr. 49.) At the time they signed a Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest, Larsons' mother Rodella Larson was living. (Trial Tr. 58.) Attorney Stefonowicz testified at trial in this matter, and testified that he mailed notices to Thelma and Hans Norheim's last known address in Arizona (though he knew they were deceased). (Trial Tr. 122-23.) Attorney Stefonowicz also searched for probate proceedings for Thelma and Hans Norheim in Divide County, North Dakota, Maricopa County, Arizona, and the county in which Youngstown, Arizona is located. (Trial Tr. 124.) No other inquiry was made before the abandonment proceedings were commenced. (Trial Tr. 122-24, 146-47.) Larsons, as the nieces and nephews of Thelma and Hans Norheim, did not offer or provide any additional information, nor did they assist in searching for any heirs of Thelma and Hans Norheim. (Trial Tr. 243.)
 Larsons, with their mother Rodella Larson who is now deceased, signed a Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest on June 26, 2006 (App. 82), and the Notice was published May 9, 2007, May 16, 2007, and May 23, 2007. (App. 83.) The Affidavit of Mailing for the Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest and Affidavit of publication was mailed on May 25, 2007 to Thelma Larson Norheim and Hans Norheim, who were known by Larsons and their attorney to be already deceased. (App. 84, Trial Tr. 122-23.) The Norheim Heirs filed a Statement of Claim on June 27, 2007. (App. 87-88.) The Larsons began quiet title proceedings by filing a Complaint in the district court on April 28, 2008. (App. 3-4.)
 The Norheim Heirs found out about the abandonment proceedings through an individual named Martin Thompson, a landman. (Trial Tr. 166-67.) Mr. Thompson assisted the Norheim heirs in preparing the Statement of Claim. (Trial Tr. 173-74.) The Statement of Claim described the mineral interests of the Norheim Heirs, the land description for the mineral interests, the names and addresses of owners, and was signed by Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen, children of Birgit Norheim Oyen, on behalf of the Norheim Heirs. (App. 87.) The Statement of Claim provides that it is "By the rightful heirs of Hans and Thelma Norheim." (App. 87.) The Statement of Claim provided that Olav Oyen was the contact person for the Norheim Heirs, and his phone number and email address was provided. (App. 87.) Later, probate proceedings for Thelma and Hans Norheim were commenced in Divide County.
 All of the Norheim Heirs and relatives that testified repeatedly stated that Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen, children of heir Birgit Norheim Oyen, were authorized to act on their behalf in signing the Statement of Claim and in representing them in protecting their mineral interests. They signed the Statement of Claim to protect the "three families" of heirs. (Trial Tr. 157, 163-65, 172.) The Norheim heirs said they gave verbal authorization to Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen to represent them, and that it is customary in Norway, where they reside, for just a few individuals to represent a large family such as theirs in these matters. (Trial Tr. 160, 178, 182-83, 187, 191-93, 196, 200, 219.) Indeed, the Norheim heirs are a close extended family, and they have kept each other aware and knowledgeable of these proceedings. (Trial Tr. 189-90, 199, 208, 224.)
 The Larsons have not denied that Birgit Norheim Oyen preserved her ownership interest by being named on the Statement of Claim. However, Larsons have argued that the rest of the Heirs' interests were extinguished because the abandonment proceedings were correctly done and successful, and the Statement of Claim did not preserve the interests of the other Heirs.
LAW AND ARGUMENT
 The Norheim Heirs preserved their interests and prevented lapse of the mineral interests by filing a valid and timely Statement of Claim on behalf of all Norheim Heirs, who were represented by Olav Oyen, Inge Oyen, who both signed the Statement of Claim, and by the other named relatives on the Statement of Claim. The timely Statement of Claim prevented any lapse or abandonment. Additionally, the address of the owners of the mineral interests did not appear of record, and the Larsons were required to engage in a reasonable inquiry in order to notify the owners of the mineral interests. The Larsons did not engage in a reasonable inquiry because, as the district court found, their attorney did some limited searching, but the Larsons themselves had information and could have easily discovered the addresses of the mineral interest owners. Despite the Larsons' actual knowledge, they did not provide such knowledge to their attorney and did not otherwise assist in an inquiry.
 The Larsons correctly state that this appeal involves both questions of law and questions of fact. The Appellees generally agree with the standards of review provided in the Appellants' Brief, Paragraphs 47-52.
I. The district court correctly decided that the Larsons were required by statute to engage in a reasonable inquiry to locate and notify the owners of the mineral interests, and correctly found that the Larsons failed their duty of a reasonable inquiry.
 As the District Court decided, it truly does not matter whether the pre- or post-2007 statute applies to this case. Regardless of which version applies, the District Court correctly decided that the Larsons were required to make a reasonable inquiry in order to notify the Norheim heirs of the abandonment proceedings.
 The Larsons signed a Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest on June 26, 2006 (App. 82), and the Notice was published May 9, 2007, May 16, 2007, and May 23, 2007 in the newspaper for Divide County. (App. 83.) The Affidavit of Mailing for the Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest and Affidavit of publication was mailed on May 25, 2007 to Thelma Larson Norheim and Hans Norheim, who were known by Larsons and their attorney to be already deceased. (App. 84, Trial Tr. 122-23.) It has been undisputed that the abandonment proceedings were commenced before the 2007 statutory amendments took effect. The Norheim heirs filed a Statement of Claim on June 27, 2007. (App. 87-88.) The Complaint in this action was signed and filed on April 28, 2008 (App. 3-4.) The quiet title proceedings were commenced before any 2009 statutory amendments took effect. It is true that these facts are similar to the facts regarding the commencement of the abandonment proceedings and quiet title action in Sorenson v. Felton, 2011 ND 33, ¶ 9, 793 N.W.2d 799. However, the language that actually makes a difference in this case was in effect long before any 2007 statutory amendments. The district court's statement that it did not matter which version of the statutes applied was correct.
 The language that is dispositive in this case, which was in effect at the time the abandonment proceedings and the quiet title action were begun, is found in N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-06. As in Sorenson, the statutory language in effect when these proceedings began provided notice of the lapse of mineral interest must be made by publication
. . . [H]owever, if the address of the mineral interest owner is shown of record or can be determined upon reasonable inquiry, notice must also be made by mailing a copy of the notice to the owner of the mineral interest within ten days after the last publication is made.
N.D.C.C. 38-18.1-06(2) (2005). The Supreme Court has already interpreted this language by stating
The words "shown of record" and "determined upon reasonable inquiry" relate to separate and alternative considerations for how a surface owner is to obtain the mineral owner's address for mailing the notice. N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-06(2) (2004). These phrases have independent legal significance because each requires different conduct based on the information available to the surface owner. Therefore we conclude the word "or" is disjunctive as used in section 38-18.1-06(2). N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-06(2) (2004).
Sorenson, 2011 ND 33, ¶ 13, 793 N.W.2d 799.
 The Larsons argue that, like in Sorenson, the owners' address appeared of record, and therefore they had to make no reasonable inquiry. This case is distinguishable from Sorenson, for the very reason the district court found Sorenson distinguishable from this case: the owners' address did not appear of record. (App. 186a-88.) Therefore, a reasonable inquiry was needed.
 In Sorenson, the Defendant/Appellee Felton was the owner of record pursuant to a personal representative deed. 2011 ND 33, ¶ 3, 793 N.W.2d 799. An address for Felton was listed on the personal representative deed. Id. at ¶ 4. In this case, the owners were not Thelma and Hans Norheim, because they were deceased. Only their address and no one else's appeared on record, so they were no longer the owners because they were deceased. Thus, the owners' address did not appear on the record. The Larsons' attorney who handled the abandonment proceedings, Michel Stefonowicz, testified that he knew Thelma and Hans Norheim were both deceased. (Trial Tr. 122-23.) Thelma and Hans Norheim were deceased and not the owners of the mineral interests when the abandonment proceedings commenced, and the Larsons knew that. That the owners' address was not of record makes this case distinguishable from Sorenson.
 The district court provided an excellent and correct analysis on who was the owner of the mineral interests, and whose address would have had to appear of record in order to avoid the duty of making a reasonable inquiry. (App. 186a-88.) In order to avoid duplicating the court's analysis and decision word for word because it is available on the record and in the Appendix, only a summary will be provided here. Thelma and Hans Norheim were not the owners of the mineral interests because they were deceased. Ownership does not remain in a deceased person, but instead passes upon death to the heirs, subject only to administration. N.D.C.C. § 30.1-12-01; Brigham Oil v. Lario Oil, 2011 ND 154, 801 N.W.2d 677; and Feickert v. Frounfelter, 468 N.W.2d 131 (N.D. 1991). Probate and administration is necessary to provide evidence of the transfer, but it is not the probate and administration that actually passes the ownership interests death does. The Norheim heirs, though they had yet to be identified in probate proceedings, were the owners of the mineral interests when their predecessors in interest died. To use the words of the statute, the "address of the mineral interest owner" was not "shown of record" only the address of deceased persons who could not and did not own anything anymore was shown.
 The Larsons gloss over this analysis by arguing whether the pre- or post-2007 statute applied and focusing on the Court's decision that it did not matter which version applied. The Larsons erroneously argue that the analysis from Sorenson that a reasonable inquiry was not needed must be adhered to because of the dates the proceedings were commenced without discussing the distinction between a live owner's address on record, and the address of known deceased persons who own nothing. No one ever said that Sorenson was not good law in North Dakota; it simply does not apply to the facts of this case. Larsons do not even address this analysis. The district court was correct.
 The district court next decided that because Larsons were required to make a reasonable inquiry, they did not meet the requirements of the statutes because they did not make a reasonable inquiry into the addresses of the mineral interest owners in order to provide them notice of the proceedings. Whether a reasonable inquiry has been made is a finding of fact, subject to the clearly erroneous standard of review. See Halvorson v. Starr, 2010 ND 133, ¶ 7, 785 N.W.2d 248; see also Spring Creek Ranch, LLC v. Svenberg, 1999 ND 113, ¶¶ 18-19, 595 N.W.2d 323.
 The Larsons argue that if a reasonable inquiry was required, then they met that element. Larsons have accurately repeated the evidence at trial: Attorney Stefonowicz mailed notice of the proceedings to the decedents Thelma Norheim and Hans Norheim, he checked probate proceedings in Divide County, North Dakota, Maricopa County, Arizona, and in the Youngstown, Arizona area. Attorney Stefonowicz ordered a Memorandum of Title, though he did not review the title records himself to make sure the Memorandum of Title was correct. Attorney Stefonowicz testified that he found nothing to indicate who the owners of the mineral interests were, until the Statement of Claim was filed. However, in this case, the Larsons themselves failed at their duties under the mineral abandonment statutes. The Larsons had knowledge of their family history, as the district court stated, but did not use this knowledge to try and discover the owners of the mineral interests. (Trial Tr. 237-38.) The evidence at trial showed the Larsons could have provided notice to the mineral interest owners with little effort. As the district court found, even a complete stranger (a landman, Martin Thompson) was able to find the Norheim Heirs. (Trial Tr. 166-67.)
 On appeal, Larsons argue they did not know of the Norheim heirs. However, Plaintiff/Appellant Loren Larson testified that he knew Thelma Norheim was his father's sister. (Trial Tr. 237.) He was aware of Thelma Norheim's death when it happened, and he was aware of Hans Norheim's death when it happened. (Trial Tr. 237.) Loren Larson, though he knew Thelma and Hans Norheim (his aunt and uncle) were deceased, took no steps to discover who their heirs were. (Trial Tr. 238.) Loren Larson testified that his father had visited Norway, and he visited his sister Thelma (Loren's aunt). (Trial Tr. 243-44.) Bente Tettum, child of Margit Norheim Tettum and sister of Harald Tettum and Kjetil Tettum, testified that she visited the Larsons' farm in 1972 and met Loren Larson's parents. (Trial Tr. 291.) Further, a landman named Martin Thompson, a stranger to the family, was able to find the Norheim heirs and assist in preparing their Statement of Claim. (Trial Tr. 166-67.)
 The point is, the district court did not find it credible that a reasonable inquiry had been made by the Larsons, who were knowledgeable of the family history. The district court stated, "I can attribute no innocent motive to the Plaintiffs' silence and do not feel that they should be able to profit from their actions, or rather lack thereof." (App. 189-90.) Indeed, the court noted that the Plaintiffs had knowledge of the Norheim heirs' family history and home towns, and did nothing toward determining the address of the owners of the mineral interests, the Norheim Heirs. In sum, the court said, "As we have seen in this case, . . . the Owners COULD be found, and we know this because they WERE found." (App. 192.) The district court is the factfinder, and the determiner of credibility. The findings of facts are supported by the evidence on the record, and are not clearly erroneous. The Larsons may disagree on the findings of fact, but the findings of fact are supported by the record and the court's determination on credibility.
 "No one can take advantage of his own wrong." N.D.C.C. § 31-11-05(8). This is a maxim of jurisprudence under the North Dakota Century Code. "This Court has relied on that maxim in decisions holding a wrongdoer may not take advantage of his own wrong act against the victim or his wrongoing." Beavers v. Walters, 537 N.W.2d 647, 650-51 (N.D. 1995). As the court found, the Larsons were engaged in wrongdoing by failing to use their own special knowledge of their family history to engage in a reasonable inquiry of the owners of the mineral interests. The Larsons did not bother to assist in making a reasonable inquiry. The court's findings are not clearly erroneous, but are supported by the record. No mistake was made.
II. The district court correctly decided the Norheim Heirs' Statement of Claim was adequate to protect their interests, and no finding on reversion was necessary.
 Larsons' failure to make a reasonable inquiry defeats the abandonment proceedings and their claim. However, in case this Court decides otherwise on the reasonable inquiry issue, Larsons' claim still fails because the Norheim Heirs filed an adequate and timely Statement of Claim as required by N.D.C.C. ch. 38-18.1.
 The Norheim heirs filed a Statement of Claim on June 27, 2007. The first published Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interests was published on May 9, 2007, and the deficient attempt at mailing the Notice was made on May 25, 2007. The Statement of Claim was filed within 60 days of the Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interest, as required by N.D.C.C. §§ 38-18.1-04; 38-18.1-05 (2005).
 A mineral interest is not extinguished by lack of use within the 20-year period if the owner of record files a Statement of Claim with the county recorder as required under N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-04 (2005). If an owner records a statement of claim within 60 days of the first publication of the notice of lapse, then a mineral interest will not be extinguished. N.D.C.C. 38-18.1-05(1)(a) (2005). A statement of claim must be recorded by the owner of the mineral interest or the owner's representative, and it must contain the name and address of the owner, the legal description, and the type of mineral interest involved. N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-04 (2005). A mineral interest is deemed used when a proper statement of claim is recorded. N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-03(1)(g) (2005). A mineral interest is deemed abandoned if unused for 20 years, unless a statement of claim is recorded. N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-02. Title to the mineral interests will vest in the surface estate, but only if the mineral are abandoned. That is why the word "unless" is in the statue. When an owner files a timely recording of the statement of claim as required by the statutes, the minerals are not abandoned and there is no vesting of any mineral interests to the surface owner.
 Thus, in this case, the mineral interest owners through their representatives filed a Statement of Claim within the 60-day time period required by the statute there was no vesting of interest in the surface owners because the mineral interest owners protected their interests.
 The Larsons argue the district court erred by ignoring issues of reverter. In support of their argument that a reversion interest exists in this case, the Larsons cite Johnson v. Taliaferro, 2011 ND, 793 N.W.2d 804 for the rule that mineral interests are deemed abandoned on the date of the first publication of the Notice of Lapse of Mineral Interests. However, in Johnson, the mineral interest owner did not file a timely statement of claim. Id. at ¶ 14. This Court said, "Taliaferro did not file a timely notice of claim, and his mineral interest was abandoned as of the date of first publication." Id. Because the notice of claim was not filed in time, the abandoned mineral interest vested in the surface owner. Id. This is clearly distinguished from the present case, where a timely statement of claim was filed which "will not cause a mineral interest to be extinguished." N.D.C.C. 38-18.1-05. The Norheim Heirs' interests were never extinguished and there was no issue of reverter.
 The North Dakota Century Code defines a reversion as, "the residue of an estate left by operation of law in the grantor or the grantor's successors or in the successors of a testator commencing in possession on the determination of a particular estate granted or devised." N.D.C.C. §47-04-09. Black's Law Dictionary defines a reversionary interest as: "[a] future interest left in the transferor or successor in interest." Blacks Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009). In order for the Norheim heirs to have a reversionary interest in the subject minerals, the title to the subject minerals would have had to have already passed to the Larsons. But title to the mineral interests never passed to Larsons.
 The Larsons make an argument on reversionary interests in an attempt to have the statute of frauds apply to the verbal agency and representative agreements made by the Norwegian Norheim Heirs and their relatives, despite the Norheims' testimony that they abided by the law and custom of Norway in representing each other in these matters. (Trial Tr. 160, 178, 182-83, 187, 191-93, 196, 200, 219.) The Larsons are trying to apply the statute of frauds to a situation that would not be covered by the statute of frauds in America either. Simply put, the agreement the Larsons want the statute of frauds to apply to is an authorization for a family member to act on behalf and as an agent/representative for family members. Here, there is no conveyance document and no contract that falls within the State of Frauds. There is absolutely no requirement that the person filing the statement of claim have some type of written agency contract that needed to be attached to the statement of claim form. There is no basis for the argument that the family agency agreement needed to be in writing for them to be able to preserve their family's mineral interests per the properly recorded and compiled statement of claim form in this case. The Larsons cannot cite the Court to any legal authority to the contrary.
 In fact, the Norheim Heirs' understanding of agency relationships is consistent with North Dakota law on agency. An actual agency is where the agent is employed by the principal. N.D.C.C. § 3-01-03. Any person having the capacity to contract may appoint an agent, and any person may be an agent. N.D.C.C. § 3-01-04. Agency may be created and authority may be conferred by a prior authorization. N.D.C.C. § 3-01-06. No consideration is necessary to create an agency. N.D.C.C. § 3-01-07. Every act which may be done by any person may be done the agent of that person for that purpose. N.D.C.C. § 3-02-01. An agent has the authority to everything necessary or proper to effect the purpose of the agency, and to make a representation respecting any matter of fact. N.D.C.C. § 3-02-08. As these very basic rules show, the additional requirements the Larsons argue are necessary for the agency and representation of the Norheim Heirs are not required by North Dakota law.
 It must be noted that it is uncontested that the Statement of Claim was timely filed, and that Birgit Norheim Oyen is represented on the Statement of Claim. Larsons claim the Statement of Claim was deficient because each and every owner of the mineral interests had not signed the Statement of Claim, and any agreements about an agency relationship between the owners and the signers of the Statement of Claim were not in writing. The evidence at trial showed the owners were protected by the Statement of Claim.
 For the Norheim Heirs (whom had yet to be formally identified through probate proceedings), Inge Oyen, Kjellaug Norheim, Harald Tettum, Kjetil Tettum, Bente Tettum, Olav Norheim, Sigmund Norheim, Hans Norheim, and Eivend Norheim all testified that Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen signed the Statement of Claim on behalf of the owners of the mineral interests in their family. Names and addresses of owners and owners' representatives were provided, as well as contact persons and contact information. (App. 87.) According to the testimony at trial and provided by the district court's findings, the owners were either named or represented by those they designated as their representatives. (Trial Tr. 160, 178, 182-83, 187, 191-93, 196, 200, 219.) Throughout the trial transcript, the witnesses for the Norheim Heirs testified that they had verbal agreements for Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen to represent the heirs of Thelma and Hans Norheim. (Id.) They testified that it is customary in Norway, where they live, for family members to represent each other and to have verbal agency or representative agreements. (Id.) Pursuant to the North Dakota Century Code, "Every act which legally may be done by or to any person may be done by or to the agent of such person for that purpose, unless a contrary intention clearly appears." N.D.C.C. § 3-01-03. The witnesses testified that a verbal agreement was sufficient for Olav Oyen and Inge Oyen to represent them in signing the Statement of Claim. The heirs and/or contact persons for the heirs were listed on the Statement of Claim.
 The Norheim Heirs substantially complied with the statutory filing requirements, which is sufficient for a mineral interest owner to protect his or her mineral interest ownership. Substantial compliance is sufficient to provide notice in numerous contexts in North Dakota. See, e.g., Stockman Bank of Montana v. Agsco, Inc., 2007 ND 27, ¶ 21, 727 N.W.2d 742 (notice requirements for the agricultural lien process must be substantially, not strictly, complied with); Stensrud v. Mayville State College, 368 N.W.2d 519, 522 (N.D. 1985) (employee termination provisions requiring written notice of termination have been substantially and sufficiently complied with when the employee received oral notice of termination); Van Raden Homes, Inc. v . Dakota View Estates, 546 N.W.2d 843, 853-55 (N.D. 1996) (a published notice of expiration of the redemption period substantially complied with the statute and was sufficient even though only one of six apparent record title owners was listed on the published notice); Dickinson Air Serv. V. Kadrmas, 397 N.W.2d 55, 58 (N.D. 1986) (notice-of-claim provisions require substantial compliance with statutory filing requirements in order to bring a claim).
 The statement-of-claim provisions, N.D.C.C. §§ 38-18.1-04, -05, are similar in purpose and procedure to recording statutes for land conveyances. Both statement of claim provisions and recording laws operate to provide notice of ownership to others. Recording laws require substantial compliance with the laws, not strict compliance. Hanson v. Zoller, 187 N.W.2d 47, 56 (N.D. 1971). Substantial compliance with the statement of claim provisions that provides notice to the surface owners and anyone searching the land title records is sufficient compliance for a mineral interest owner making a statement of claim. The purposes of the statutes have been met.
 Case law from other jurisdictions is informative on the purposes of dormant mineral acts and level of compliance required for statement of claim provisions. Michigan allowed mineral interest owners to file statements of claim, or claims of interest, to prevent lapse of mineral interests. The Supreme Court of Michigan recognized the purpose of the dormant minerals act was to promote the development of mineral interests by reducing the difficulty in locating the mineral interest owners. Van Slooten v. Larsen, 299 N.W.2d 704 (1980); see also Oberlin v. Wolverine Gas & Oil, 450 N.W.2d 68, 71 (Mich. App. 1989). The purpose of the dormant minerals act was not to abolish severed mineral interests. Oberlin, at 71. "The act is designed to increase the marketability and development of severed mineral interests by creating a rule of substantive law which requires owners to undertake minimal acts indicative of ownership at least every 20 years." Van Slooten, at 713. The act was meant to reduce the likelihood that developing mineral interests would be hindered by the difficulty in locating owners, and there was no intent to impose an undue burden upon the mineral owners. Id. at 711.
 The purpose behind the recording requirement in Michigan's dormant minerals lapse act is to reduce the expense of locating owners and increase the possibility that owners will be found. Van Slooten, 299 N.W.2d at 711. The recordation of a statement of claim or claim of interest provides "a means of insuring that a person interested in purchasing or leasing mineral rights would have information on the identity and whereabouts of the owners of those mineral rights that was no more than twenty years old." Id. A statement of claim provides a method of identifying and locating the current owners. Id. The act "was not designed to remove all possible impediments to development. Its purpose was to limit the difficulties presented by unknown or unlocatable owners." Energetics, Ltd. v. Whitmill, 497 N.W.2d 497, 504 (Mich. 1993).
 Michigan does not require strict compliance for a mineral interest owner to preserve his/her mineral interests. See Oberlin, at 70-71. In Oberlin the court said, "The legislative purpose of the act can be achieved by the filing of virtually any document which identifies the holder of the mineral rights." Id. at 71. The court in Oberlin said the claim of interest notice is not a "'super document' which possesses some special power or purpose in the dormant minerals act.'" Id. Instead, the claim of interest provision "was merely established by the Legislature to provide a means for complying with the requirement of a recording every twenty years without the necessity of engaging in a transfer or lease of mineral rights." Id.
 In the present case, the Defendants complied with North Dakota's statement of claim provisions, which was sufficient to prevent extinguishment of their mineral interests. It is undisputed that the Defendants recorded a statement of claim on June 27, 2007, within sixty days of the first publication of the notice of lapse. The statement of claim was recorded by owners and owners' representatives, as allowed under N.D.C.C. § 38-18.1-04, and was recorded in the correct county. The statement of claim provided the legal description of the land, the mineral interests pertain to, and described the minerals involved.
 The statement of claim identified the minerals as being owned by the Heirs of Hans and Thelma Norheim, identified who the claimants believed the heirs of Thelma and Hans Norheim to be (either by owners or their representatives), provided an email address, and provided phone numbers. The statement of claim complied with the requirement that "the name and address of the owner of the mineral interest" be listed. If merely listing the incorrect heir of an unprobated estate, or mistakenly omitting one of several mineral interest owners but otherwise having the correction information, could prevent parties from protecting their interests, then mineral interests could be stripped simply because heirs may have mistakenly included people in the statement of claim that may not have been "legal heirs" to the Estate.
 For the Plaintiffs to allege that any minor inaccuracy or mistake in the statement of claim (as to the identification of the heirs of Hans Norheim) precludes protection of the Heirs' ownership interests is without basis in fact or law. Furthermore, it is simply not right, fair or equitable to strip them of their minerals based upon any alleged technicality as to who would ultimately inherit from the Hans Norheim Estate.
 In this case, the statement of claim identified the Estates, and identified the family bloodlines who would inherit the minerals from the Hans Norheim Estate. Again, the purpose behind the statement of claim is to provide notice and information regarding the ownership of the minerals. Clearly, when all of the mineral interests are derived from the Hans Norheim bloodline (within one family), the statement of claim is absolutely sufficient for purposes of preserving the mineral interests in question.
 For the foregoing reasons, the Norheim Heirs request this Court affirm the very thorough and analytical findings and decision of the district court. It is further requested that the Norheim Heirs be awarded double costs and their attorney fees associated with defending this appeal pursuant to Rule 38 of the North Dakota Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Larsons' appeal is frivolous
DATED this 15th day of January, 2013.
|/s/ H. Malcolm Pippin|
|H. Malcolm Pippin (ND ID# 04682)|
|Charlotte J. Skar (ND ID # 06528)|
|Nilles Law Firm|
|3 4th St. E., Ste. 206|
|P.O. Box 1525|
|Williston, ND 58802-1525|