WILLISTON - A district judge has denied the state of North Dakota dismissal of a case involving N.D. mineral rights owners who filed against the state, alleging the state is unlawfully taking their oil payments from riverbed land.
Northwest Judicial District Judge David W. Nelson, of Williston, signed and issued the order Monday in Williston.
According to Nelson's order, the action commenced on March 7.
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., a law firm in Minneapolis, filed the suit and is seeking class-action status.
Plaintiffs in the case include Stanford A. Reep and Amy Reep, the Stockman Family Mineral Trust, the Charles and Ruth Patch Trust, the Florence E. Irwin Family Mineral Trust including Loren Irwin, Thomas Selby and Sogard Davidson.
Defendants are the state of North Dakota, N.D. Board of University and School Lands and Lance D. Gaebe, commissioner of the N.D. Trust Lands Department.
The 50-mile area involved in the suit is between the North Dakota/Montana border and the Williston area of the Missouri River, according to Jan Conlin, formerly of Williston, and Richard Allyn, attorneys with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.
The plaintiffs claim actions by the N.D. Board of University and School Lands, the State of North Dakota and the commissioner of the Trust Lands Department have deprived them of their mineral interests without just compensation in N.D. They allege it is a violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the state Constitution, as well as North Dakota eminent domain statutes.
Nelson said in his July 16 order "that the defendants argue, and the court agrees, that the underlying issue in the case is Count 1 the dispute over who holds the right to the minerals in and under the 'shore zone,' the area of navigable waterways between the 'low water mark' and the 'ordinary high water mark.' All of the plaintiffs' other claims are dependent upon resolution of the underlying questions," he said.
Nelson also noted in his order a federal case that allegedly has the same shore zone foundational question (Brigham Oil & Gas v. North Dakota Board of University and School Lands) has been remanded to the Williams County District Court. He said three cases are now pending in Williams County District Court. Those cases are Brigham, (William) Wilkinson v. Board of University and School Lands, and the case involving his order.
Nelson encouraged the counsels of the three cases to communicate to determine if a consensus can be reached on which of the three cases should go forward to resolve the common question before the various dependent and/or other issues are decided.