Cimarron River Ranch, Tri-County Electric, move toward February courtroom showdown

by C.F. David

Attorney Stan Manske, representing the Cimarron River Ranch, moved for a summary judgment against Tri-county Electric, on Thursday. The ranch has brought suit against Tri-County in an effort to have electrical power lines moved from property recently bought and prepared for cultivation. Clark Jett, attorney for Tri-County pointed out that the line was installed in the early 1950s when the area was first developed with electrical power. Manske responded that at the time of the power line's installation, an easement was not obtained, but that instead, the company asked for and received permission to cross what were then grasslands. Cimarron River Ranch had entered into the court record a statement signed by Asa Jones to the effect that permission for the lines to cross was granted by his, (Jones), father so that their neighbors could receive electrical power to their homes.

Manske then informed the court with the subsequent sale of the property to Cimarron River Ranch by Monty Joe Roberts that the aforementioned permission had been withdrawn and that having been withdrawn, the land had been broken out, tilled and a crop sown. Manske added that wells had been drilled and an irrigation system had been installed, but that without the removal of the lines, the crop would suffer. Manske then argued that if Tri-county had received an easement across the land there would or should have been some legal controversy of which there would be a legal record; a record Manske claims doesn't exist.

In response, Jett argued that Tri-county did have an easement from Roberts' father Monty, who had purchased the land from the Jones family. Manske countered that the legal document to which Jett referred had been signed by Monty Joe Roberts, who at the time the document was signed was not the legal owner of the property. Manske added that the line had been installed many many years ago, in the early 1950s, and that there had never been any legal squabble about its existence, or of the consent with which it was built. “We cannot argue an easement by prescription,” Manske said. Manske then added that with the crop planted; this was a pressing issue that needed to be settled.

Judge Greg Zigler thumbed through the documentation and then said, “I am not comfortable in granting a Summary Judgment in litigation in its early stages. The Summary Judgment is denied.”

Zigler then asked Manske how much time he needed for discovery before moving to trial.

“I don't think discovery is necessary,” Manske answered.

Jett responded that he felt any trial should be in January or February, after the holidays.

Zigler set a date of Jan. 19 for pre-trial and Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 9:30 for the beginning of an estimated three day trial.

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