Larson v. Norheim - No. 20120236
The Larson plaintiffs appeal from a judgment dismissing their claim to decide title to certain mineral interests and finding they do not have any claim to the minerals.
The Larsons are surface owners of real property located in Divide County. Thelma Larson Norheim and Hans Norheim were the recorded owners of 53.333 net mineral acres lying under the property the Larsons own. The Norheims claim was recorded in 1985. The Norheims are both deceased. The Larsons sought to claim the abandoned mineral interest by publishing a notice of lapse in the county newspaper for three consecutive weeks. A copy of the notice of lapse was mailed to the Norheims. A statement of claim was filed in the county recorder's office by the Norheims' heirs. The Larsons filed an affidavit of lapse of the Norheims' mineral interest and brought an action to quiet title in the mineral interest against the Norheims and their heirs. After a trial, the district court found the Norheim heirs were the current owners of the mineral interest, the Larsons were required to make a reasonable inquiry into the current owner of the mineral interest, the Larsons failed to conduct a reasonable inquiry, and the Norheim heirs substantially complied with statutory requirements to preserve their interest in the minerals. The court ruled the minerals were not abandoned and dismissed the Larsons' claims. A judgment was entered.
On appeal, the Larsons argue a reasonable inquiry was not required, they met any requirement to conduct a reasonable inquiry, and the court erred in finding the Norheim heirs complied with statutory requirements to preserve their interest.