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Owens v. Tergeson

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Second Division

November 5, 2015

Barbara G. Owens and G. Charles Gadbois, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
Edward H. Tergeson, as Trustee of the Harold Furrow Family Trust and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Esther A. Furrow; AED Group, LLC; and Pegasus Minerals, LLC, Defendants-Appellants

Page 827

Weld County District Court No. 14CV30160. Honorable Julie C. Hoskins, Judge.

Poulson, Odell & Peterson, LLC, Scott M. Campbell, Aaron G. Norris, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, Jennifer Lynn Peters, Christian J. Schulte, Greeley, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellants.

Booras and Navarro, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 828

DAILEY, JUDGE.

[¶1] In this dispute over mineral rights, defendants Edward H. Tergeson, as trustee of the Harold Furrow Family Trust and as personal representative of the Estate of Esther A. Furrow; AED Group, LLC; and Pegasus Minerals, LLC (collectively, the Furrow Defendants), appeal the district court's order denying their motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, Barbara G. Owens and G. Charles Gadbois. We affirm.

I. Background

[¶2] Plaintiffs and the Furrow Defendants both assert that they are the rightful owners of certain mineral interests located in four adjacent tracts of land (Tracts A-D) in Weld County.

[¶3] The parties' conflicting claims revolve, in the first instance, around an interpretation of two warranty deeds dated November 25, 1950 (1950 Deeds). One conveyed Tract A; the other conveyed Tracts B-D. The parties disagree whether the language in the 1950 Deeds reserved all oil, gas, and other mineral interests in the land to the original grantors or fully conveyed those interests to the deeds' grantees. Plaintiffs argue that, as successors-in-interest to the deeds' grantors, they are the rightful owners of the mineral rights reserved in the deeds. The Furrow Defendants, as successors-in-interest to the grantees on the deed, argue that, inasmuch as no such reservation of rights occurred, they own the rights.

[¶4] In addition, the Furrow Defendants argue that, by way of a 1973 quiet title action (1973 Action) and a subsequent conveyance, they became the rightful owners of at least some of the disputed mineral rights. Plaintiffs,

Page 829

however, argue that the 1973 Action was void because they were not named as parties in the action and their predecessors-in-interest were not properly served in the case.

[¶5] In the district court, the parties presented their arguments in cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs, concluding,

o as a matter of law, that, in the 1950 Deeds, the grantors, Plaintiffs' predecessors-in-interest, validly reserved their interest in the mineral rights in Tracts A-D; and
o the judgment in the 1973 Action affected only Tract A but was void because of invalid service of process on Plaintiffs' predecessors-in-interest.

[¶6] Consequently, the district court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment while denying the Furrow Defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment.

II. Analysis

[¶7] The Furrow Defendants contend that they, rather than Plaintiffs, should have been granted summary judgment with respect to the 1950 Deeds and the effect of the 1973 Action. Alternatively, they contend that, at the very least, disputed issues of fact existed with respect to those issues, precluding summary judgment in Plaintiffs' favor. We are not persuaded.

[¶8] Initially, we note that, while the denial of summary judgment is usually not appealable, Moss v. Members of Colo. Wildlife Comm'n, 250 P.3d 739, 742 (Colo.App. 2010), it is appealable when, as here, it effectively puts an end to the litigation, as when cross-motions result in entry of judgment for one party and a denial for the other, Glennon Heights, Inc. v. Cent. Bank & Tr., 658 P.2d 872, 875 (Colo. 1983); Mahaney v. City of Englewood, 226 P.3d 1214, 1217 (Colo.App. 2009).

[¶9] Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Geiger v. Am. Standard Ins. Co., 192 P.3d 480, 482 (Colo.App. 2008). We review a grant or denial of summary judgment de novo. Id.

[¶10] With these principles in mind, we address the issues raised by the Furrow Defendants on appeal.

A. Interpretation of 1950 Deeds

1. Facts

[¶11] Plaintiffs' predecessors-in-interest on the deed conveying Tract A were Frankie Alice Gadbois and G. C. Gadbois (the Gadbois); Plaintiffs' predecessors-in-interest on the deed conveying Tracts B-D were Frankie Alice Gadbois and William Van Pelt.[1]

[¶12] The grantee on both 1950 Deeds (and, thus, a predecessor-in-interest to the Furrow Defendants) was Hubert A. Brown.

[¶13] The deed conveying Tract A contains the following granting language:

WITNESSETH, That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of DOLLARS ($10) and other good and valuable considerations, [to] the said parties of the first part in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt wherof is hereby confessed and acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold and conveyed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm, unto the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever, all the following described lots or parcels of land, situate, lying and being in the County of Weld and State of Colorado, to-wit:
[Tract A]
TOGETHER with all and singular the hereditaments and appurtenances thereto belonging, or in anywise appertaining, and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders, rents, issues and profits thereof; and all the estate, right, title, interest, claim and demand whatsoever of the said parties of the first part, either in law or ...

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