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Walsh v. Superior Oil Co.

JUNE 4, 1964.

RUTH T. WALSH, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,

v.

THE SUPERIOR OIL COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the County Court of Jefferson County; the Hon. ALVIN LACY WILLIAMS, Judge, presiding. Judgment order affirmed.

DOVE, P.J.

Rehearing denied June 19, 1964.

The general taxes for 1957 upon undivided fractional interests in oil, gas and other minerals, in and under certain described real estate, located in Jefferson County, Illinois, of which Peter L. Guth was the owner of record, not being paid, the County Court of said County, on October 1, 1958, entered a judgment and order of sale. At said sale, Ruth T. Walsh became the purchaser, and evidencing said purchase, she received from the County Clerk tax sale certificates of purchase.

Thereafter, and on August 30, 1960, Ruth Walsh filed her petition in the County Court of Jefferson County, which, among other things, recited the purchase by her of said mineral interests and the failure to redeem said premises from said tax sale. This petition prayed for an order directing the clerk to issue to her a deed of conveyance of the property described in her certificates of purchase. The defendants in this petition were Peter L. Guth, The Superior Oil Company, and Pursuit Oil Company, both corporations. The defendants did not appear and were defaulted.

On December 5, 1960, an order was entered directing the clerk to forthwith execute and deliver to petitioner, Ruth T. Walsh, "a good and sufficient deed of conveyance of the mineral interest," in the described real estate, and directing the defendants, upon the production of said deed of conveyance, to surrender possession of said mineral interest in the described real estate to the grantee, and upon default of so doing, that a writ of assistance issue.

On September 26, 1961, Ruth T. Walsh filed in the County Court of Jefferson County her petition, which alleged, among other things, that the clerk had issued the mineral deed as directed to petitioner, and that by virtue thereof petitioner succeeded to all the right, title and interest of defendant, Peter L. Guth, in the described premises; that Superior Oil Company is the tenant in possession of the greater part of said mineral interests as assignee of a valid and subsisting oil and gas lease; that it refuses to recognize petitioner as the lawful successor of Peter L. Guth in the ownership of said premises, and refuses to acknowledge that petitioner has any rights in or to the mineral interests in said premises.

This petition prayed that a writ of assistance issue, "directed to the Superior Oil Company, a corporation, its agents and servants, commanding it forthwith to put petitioner, without delay, into the full, peaceable and quiet possession of that part of said mineral interests in real estate wherein the relation of lessor and lessee between them was established on the fifth day of December, A.D. 1960, by the order of this honorable court, and to maintain and keep her in such peaceable and quiet possession thereof according to the true intent and meaning of said order."

The clerk of said court issued this writ as directed, and delivered it to the Sheriff of Jefferson County to execute. This writ referred to the judgment and order of sale entered by the County Court on October 1, 1958, and described the real estate involved as "that mineral interest in real estate then described as Grand Prairie Mineral Deeds, Peter Guth, Boyd Field Unit Lease, .0005510 R.I., and that mineral interest in real estate then described on the T4 records of said county as Rome Mineral Deeds, Peter Guth, Boyd Field Unit Lease, .0006510 R.I., sold for the delinquent 1957 general taxes." This writ commanded the Sheriff to immediately enter upon said mineral interests and expel therefrom the Superior Oil Company "out of and from any and all interest in said mineral interests in real estate, save that interest therein which said corporation enjoys as an assignee of a valid and subsisting oil and gas lease of a part of said mineral interests, and that you do place and put the said Ruth T. Walsh into the full, peaceable and quiet possession thereof, subject to, and only to, the lawful right of said corporation therein as said assignee, and keep her in such peaceable and quiet possession, when and as often as said corporation shall interrupt or shall attempt to interrupt, or shall attempt otherwise to interfere with, or minimize the basic lessor-lessee relationship between the said Ruth T. Walsh and said corporation, established on the fifth day of December, A.D. 1960, according to the true intent and meaning of said order."

This writ of assistance was served by the Sheriff on October 19, 1961, as shown by his return thereon, by delivering a copy thereof to the Production Manager of the Boyd Field Unit, Russell Lockwood.

On December 26, 1961, Ruth Walsh filed the instant petition in the County Court of Jefferson County, which recited the foregoing proceedings, and prayed for the entry of rule directing the Superior Oil Company to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court for its defiance of the writ of assistance issued by the court for the purpose of putting petitioner in quiet possession of "said mineral interests in real estate."

The Superior Oil Company appeared and filed its verified answer. This answer averred that the tax deed, the proceedings therefor, and the mineral interests therein described, are all subject to oil and gas leases, and also subject to incidental agreements, all appearing of record in Jefferson County; that by the terms of these leases, the lessees therein and their assigns obtained the exclusive right to produce oil and gas from the lands therein described, for the primary term therein specified and so long thereafter as continued, upon a one-eighth royalty basis, by delivering said share of the oil produced for the credit of lessors and their assigns, or by paying the market price therefor; that by the terms of said leases no change in ownership of the land, on assignment of the royalties, or rentals therein provided, should be binding upon the lessee until after the lessee has been furnished with good and sufficient evidence thereof; that petitioner, though requested, has failed and refused to furnish defendant with a supplemental abstract of title or transcript of proceedings evidencing the asserted changes in ownership; that said leaseholds, and the lands therein described are, and were, at the time of the issuance of said tax deed, and prior to and during the proceedings therefor, within and a part of the oil producing area commonly known as the "Boyd Field Unit," as particularly evidenced by an unitization agreement, and by the Unit Operating Agreements, all of which appear of record in Oil and Gas Lease Records in the Recorder's Office of Jefferson County, Illinois.

The answer of defendant then averred that by virtue of said agreements, forty-five tracts of land, and the respective oil and gas leases covering said tracts, have been pooled and are being operated, in the production and marketing of oil, as a single unit, known as the "Boyd Field Unit." It is then averred that 38 persons, firms, and corporations (giving their names), own leasehold or working interests in said "Boyd Field Unit," and that there are 182 royalty owners in the Boyd Field Unit (giving their names), whose royalties are paid by corporations other than defendant, Superior Oil Company, and 145 royalty owners (giving their names), to whom royalties are paid by defendant.

It is then averred that the Superior Oil Company is the operator of said "Boyd Field Unit" pursuant to, and as provided in, said Unitization Agreement and Unit Operating Agreement; that the said Oil Company is powerless to surrender possession of said mineral interests or put petitioner in possession of said mineral interests as demanded by petitioner; that any rights which petitioner has, or could have acquired, in and to said mineral interests are expressly subject to said oil and gas leases, Unitization Agreement and Unit Operating Agreement; and that petitioner is not entitled to possession of any mineral interests in said premises, and any right she may have in said land is not recoverable, or enforceable, by a writ of assistance.

In its answer the defendant then averred that petitioner's rights, if any, are limited to a right of participation in the proceeds of oil or gas produced, saved and marketed from said "Boyd Field Unit," and that petitioner's remedy, if any, is by appropriate legal action for the recovery of such part of the oil proceeds or the enforcement of such rights as she may have in the "Boyd Field Unit Operating Agreement." The answer concluded by averring that defendant was not in contempt of any of the orders of the court, and prayed that the rule to show cause be discharged. Attached to the answer of the defendant was a copy of a map of the Boyd Field Secondary Recovery Project, a schedule listing the names of 38 persons who are working interest owners in the Boyd Field Unit, a schedule listing the names of 182 royalty owners in ...


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