Ritter, Laber & Assoc. v. Koch Oil

20030347 Ritter, Laber and Associates, Inc.;
Elizabeth Cantarine, Personal
Representative of the Estate of
Eugene A. Burdick; and Russell L.
Kiker, Plaintiffs and Appellants
Koch Oil, Inc., a division of Koch
Industries, Inc., Defendant and Appellee

Appeal from: District Court, Southwest Judicial District, Stark County
Judge Zane Anderson
Nature of Action: Oil, Gas and Minerals
Appellant: Serkland Law Firm
Appellant: Kaiser Law Firm
Appellant: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Appellee: Fleck, Mather & Strutz
Appellee: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Appellee: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Appellee: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Appellee: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Term: 03/2004   Argument: 03/10/2004
ND cite: 2004 ND 117
NW cite: 680 N.W.2d 634

Listen to recording of oral argument in MP3 format

Issues: Appellant's Statement of the Issues:
1. This class action includes owners of royalty and leasehold interests in North Dakota oil wells who agreed Koch Oil Company could remove and purchase oil. Do material questions of law and fact exist on the owners' cause of action for conversion when it is undisputed that Koch possessed more oil than it reported to the owners and that Koch never paid for the excess oil?
The district court held no because title passed to Koch upon removal of the oil.
2. Some owners contracted directly with Koch; other owners leased their interests to a producer, who then contracted directly with Koch. Do material questions of law and fact arise on owners' claim for unjust enrichment because Koch possessed more oil than it reported to the owners, and Koch never paid for the excess oil, but instead retained the full amount received from the subsequent sale of the oil?
The district court held that no unjust enrichment claim arises when there is an express contract between the parties.
3. Did the district court err in granting summary judgment on the owners' request for an accounting based on the dismissal of other claims for conversion and unjust enrichment?
The district court held that without other claims in conversion and unjust enrichment, the class was not entitled to seek an accounting.
4. Did the district court abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend the complaint to include a cause of action for breach of contract where the court did not find Koch was prejudiced, Koch included contract defenses in its answer to the complaint, and the owners previously declined to assert a contract claim because of strategic concerns?
The district court denied leave to amend.

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Docket entries:
112/04/2003 NOTICE OF APPEAL: 12/01/2003
212/04/2003 ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT: 12/01/2003
312/04/2003 MOT. EXT/TIME APPELLANT BRIEF (sua sponte)
412/04/2003 ACTION BY CLERK (sua sponte). Granted: 01/10/2004
512/04/2003 DISK - TRA (7-14-03) (e-filed) (Transcript is part of ROA)
612/04/2003 DISK - TRA (9-8-03) (e-filed) (transcript is part of ROA)
712/11/2003 Supplmental Affidavit of Gary J. Gordon (Rule 11.1)
801/05/2004 RECORD ON APPEAL (13 vols.) & Separates, which include 7 vols. of Transcripts & Video Tape
1101/16/2004 Copies of Judgment filed 10-13-03 for ATA
1201/21/2004 Affidavits of Deborah A. Ellingboe, Charles F. Webber, Jerry W. Snider, & Aaron Van Oort (Rule 11.1
1301/21/2004 Motion for Permission to Appear as Counsel (To allow Aaron Van Oort to appear)
1401/21/2004 ACTION BY CLERK (Mot/to appear). Granted
1501/23/2004 DISK - (e-filed) (corrected ATB)
1602/11/2004 APPELLEE BRIEF
1802/12/2004 DISK - AEB
1902/24/2004 REPLY BRIEF
2002/25/2004 DISK - RYB
2103/10/2004 APPEARANCES: Ronald H. McLean and Gary J. Gordon; Charles F. Webber and John W. Morrison
2203/10/2004 ARGUED: McLean and Gordon; Webber (Volume Y, Page 215)
2406/03/2004 DISPOSITION (and remanded): AFFIRMED/PT, REVERSED/PT
2506/03/2004 UNANIMOUS OPINION: Sandstrom, Dale V.
2606/03/2004 At the direction of the Court no costs will be taxed on this appeal
2706/08/2004 Judgment Mailed to Parties
2807/02/2004 MANDATE
3005/20/2011 EXPUNGED - Nonpermanent record items destroyed

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