Hamilton v. Woll - No. 20120269
Ronald Roland appeals from a summary judgment declaring that 15 deeds executed in the 1950s covering certain Bowman County property conveyed royalty interests rather than mineral interests, and from an order denying his motion to vacate the judgment.
During the 1950s, Finlay F. Hamilton bought and sold minerals throughout western North Dakota and acquired an undivided 1/4 interest in 80 mineral acres in Bowman County. Between 1953 and 1956, Finlay Hamilton executed and delivered 15 deeds to various parties covering the property. The deeds used were "Mineral Deed" forms, but stated that they conveyed undivided fractional "Royalty" interests. In 2010 Lawrence A. Hamilton and the other plaintiffs brought this action against Roland and the other defendants seeking a declaration that the 15 deeds conveyed royalty interests rather than mineral interests. The district court granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, concluding although the deeds were ambiguous, they granted royalty interests as a matter of law. Roland moved to vacate the judgment, arguing the court failed to consider his defense of laches. The court denied the motion.
On appeal, Roland argues the district court erred in granting summary judgment that the deeds conveyed royalty interests rather than mineral interests because the court improperly weighed extrinsic evidence and made findings of fact in the plaintiffs' favor. Roland also argues the court erred in denying the motion to vacate because it did not give due consideration to the facts and law offered in support of the motion.