Articles Posted in Real Estate Law

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Debtor Jennifer Lynn Jackson purchased a horse trailer in 2003 for personal use with the proceeds of a purchase-money loan from Defendant Arvest Bank. The Oklahoma Tax Commission issued a certificate of title for the trailer. The bank filed a UCC-1 financing statement for the collateral in 2003, and a UCC continuation statement in 2008. The central issue to this case was the issuance of title by the Oklahoma Tax Commission to the debtor and the title's implications on the perfection of the bank's security interest in the trailer. That security interest was not recorded on the face of the certificate of title, nor did the bank take steps to record the security interest. The debtor did not request that a title be issued. The manufacturer of the trailer had forwarded a statement of origin to an Oklahoma tag agent, who then issued the title. Susan Manchester, as the trustee of record, sought to avoid the perfected security interest by the bank in the trailer. She asserted that because title was issued and the lien was not noted on the title, the bank did not perfect its security interest and does not have a priority position in the bankruptcy proceeding. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma certified a question of law to the Oklahoma Supreme Court: "May a certificate of title for a vehicle issued by the Oklahoma Tax Commission be deemed to have been 'properly issued', within the meaning of OKLA. STAT. tit. 47 section 1110.A.1, even though the vehicle was not one for which a certificate of title is required as proof of ownership under applicable Oklahoma law?" The Supreme Court did not believe that answering the question as formulated by the Bankruptcy Court settled the underlying issue of whether the bank properly perfected its security interest the trailer. The Court reformulated the question to: "Does the filing of a UCC-1 financing statement for a personal/recreational use horse trailer perfect the creditor's security interest where the Oklahoma Tax Commission has issued a discretionary certificate of title, and the creditor is not named on the title?" The Court answered: title may be properly issued by the Oklahoma Tax Commission to non-required trailers for the convenience of showing ownership. The use of title beyond this single purpose for non-required vehicles would be contrary to the general scheme and purposes of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in Oklahoma. The proper method for perfecting a security interest in collateral that is not required to be titled (but may be titled at the discretion of the owner) still is, and has been by the filing of a UCC-1 financing statement.View "Manchester v. Arvest Bank" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case concerned a dispute over the title to real property along the Red River in Tillman County, Oklahoma. Plaintiff-Appellee, Chad H. Akin asserted title by adverse possession, even though he also insisted that he owned the property through a deed given to him by his father Hugh in 1975. Defendants-Appellees, Don S. Castleberry, Sam D. Castleberry, Terry G. Castleberry, denied Akin's assertion of adverse possession and, instead, insisted that they owned the property through a deed obtained from their aunt in 1986. The trial court determined that Akin neglected to prove title by adverse possession and Akin appealed. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and affirmed the trial court because title by adverse possession was not proven under the facts presented.View "Akin v. Castleberry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law

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The issue in this case was whether the parties' dispute over a provision in their lease for a shopping center store had to be resolved under the arbitration provision in the lease or whether it could have been resolved by a proceeding in district court. The disputed provision provided that landlord KWD River City Investments, L.P. would not alter the exterior of the shopping center without the consent of tenant Ross Dress for Less. KWD admitted that it allowed another tenant to alter the shopping center's exterior at that tenant's store location without Ross' consent. However, KWD maintained that Ross unreasonably withheld its consent in violation of the consent provision. KWD contended that the unreasonableness of Ross' refusal to consent was demonstrated by Ross conditioning its consent upon KWD making exterior alterations to benefit Ross. KWD then filed declaratory judgment action in district court to resolve the dispute. Ross filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion to compel arbitration. On appeal, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed. KWD petitioned the Supreme Court to review the opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals. Upon review, the Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals opinion and affirmed the trial court's denial of the motion to compel arbitration. View "KWD River City Investments, LP v. Ross Dress for Less, Inc." on Justia Law

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In August of 2009, Samson Resources Company owned oil and gas leases covering 87.78 mineral acres in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, including the Schaefer Lease. The Schaefer Lease covered 70 net acres in the Southwest Quarter of Section 28 and had a three-year primary term that ended on November 22, 2007. If drilling operations were commenced by the end of the primary term, the lease would continue so long as such operations continued. On August 2, 2007, Newfield sent a letter to Samson, proposing to drill a well in Section 28. The estimated cost of the well was over $8.5 million dollars. On August 9, 2007, Newfield filed an application with the Commission, seeking to force pool the interests of Samson and other owners in Section 28. Newfield sent an e-mail dated April 14, 2008, to Samson that informed Samson that Newfield had commenced operations prior to the expiration of the Schaefer Lease. Newfield's e-mail stated that Samson had underpaid well costs and that an election to participate with 87.78 acres would require prepayment of $1,411,982.45. Samson responded by e-mail on the same date, informing Newfield its intent was only to elect its 17.78 acres. On April 28, 2008, Samson filed an Application seeking to have its election to participate in the well limited to 17.78 acres rather than 87.78 acres. After an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge determined that Samson's timely election to participate only covered 17.78 acres of its interest and that Samson accepted the cash bonus as to its remaining 70 acres. The Oil and Gas Appellate Referee reversed the ALJ's determination, finding that the ALJ improperly relied on actions which occurred prior to the issuance of the pooling order. The Commission issued Order No. 567706, which adopted the Referee's report, reversed the ALJ, and declared that Samson had elected to participate to the full extent of its 87.78 acre interest in the unit. The Commission found Samson made a "unilateral mistake" when it elected to participate to the full extent of its interest. Samson appealed the Commission's order to the Court of Civil Appeals, which affirmed. Before COCA issued its opinion affirming the Commission, Samson filed an action in the district court alleging actual fraud, deceit, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, constructive fraud, and breach of duty as operator. Samson also alleged Newfield's actions amounted to extrinsic fraud on the Commission, rendering Pooling Order No. 550310 invalid as to Samson's working interest attributable to the 70-acre Schaefer Lease. The trial court granted Newfield's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding the petition to be an impermissible collateral attack on a valid Commission order. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. After its review, the Supreme Court found that Samson's actions for damages sounding in tort were beyond the Commission's jurisdiction, and the district court in this case was the proper tribunal for Samson to bring its claims. The trial court's order granting Newfield's Motion to Dismiss was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.View "Samson Resources Co. v. Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2005, Defendants-Appellants Robert and Shelly Heath executed a promissory note in favor of Option One Mortgage Corporation (Option One) which was secured by a mortgage. Defendants defaulted on the note in 2008. Plaintiff-Appellee Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Trustee for Option One Mortgage Loan Trust 2005-4 Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2005-4 (Appellee), filed its petition to foreclose. Attached to the Petition was a copy of the note, mortgage and assignment of the mortgage. The note contained neither an indorsement nor an attached allonge. The assignment of mortgage was made by Option One Mortgage Corporation to Appellee and was dated February 28, 2008. It did not purport to transfer the note. The bank filed a motion for summary judgment and Appellants did not respond. The judgment was granted in rem and in personam against Appellants. The property was sold at a sheriff's sale, and a motion to confirm the sale was filed on the same day. A day before the hearing to confirm the sale, Appellants filed for bankruptcy. In the pendency of the sale confirmation proceedings, Appellants obtained new counsel, and filed a motion to vacate the confirmation hearing. They alleged the bank did not prove it was entitled to enforce the note or to foreclose. The bank responded that because Appellants had their personal liabilities discharged in the bankruptcy, they no longer held any interest in the foreclosed property. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the bank with its unindorsed note did not prove that it was entitled to foreclose. The Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the bank and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Heath" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Appellants Billy and Jeanette Baber executed a promissory note ("Note") payable to Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Inc. ("Lender"). To secure payment of the Note, Appellants executed and delivered to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), as nominee for Lender, as mortgagee, a mortgage which conveyed and mortgaged to the mortgagee certain real property located in Oklahoma County. In both the Note and Mortgage, Ameriquest Mortgage Company is named as the Lender and Payee. Appellants defaulted on the Note. Appellee initiated foreclosure proceedings in 2006. A copy of the non-indorsed Note and Mortgage was included with the petition. In their answer, Appellants demanded strict proof of the ownership of the Note and Mortgage. Appellee U.S. Bank as trustee for the Lender, moved for summary judgment; in an attached affidavit, Appellee asserted it currently held both the Note and Mortgage at issue, and again produced a copy of both the unindorsed Note and Mortgage. The trial court granted judgment on the Note and foreclosure on the mortgage in favor of U.S. Bank. Appellants moved to vacate that judgment, arguing they were denied their statutory right to respond to the bank's cross-motion for summary judgment that the motion was not delivered to them in a timely fashion and that they did not receive notice of a hearing that occurred on September 5, 2010. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the bank by its unindorsed Note and Mortgage, did not prove that it was entitled to enforce either. The Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Baber" on Justia Law