Cimarron River Ranch denied in summary judgment; files motion to reconsider decision

In documents filed on Jan. 26, Cimarron River Ranch lost in its first attempt to force Tri-County Electric to move power lines that have been in place since 1952.

Cimarron River Ranch is owned by Samuel Parker. His father James consulted with the younger Parker and was instrumental in the ranch leasing more than 20 thousand acres of school land in the Kenton area in October, 2005. The ranch, which is comprised of both leased and deeded property near Kenton, has erected circle irrigation systems on two different acreages of deeded property. One of those sites, already planted to winter wheat, cannot be irrigated until the lines in question have been removed.

District judge Greg Zigler in his decision, wrote that after hearing arguments from both sides, and studies of evidentiary material, he found no substantial controversy and that the defendant, (Tri-County) was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Zigler noted that Tri-County had obtained an easement from Tom E. Jones on Feb. 4, 1952 , in order to allow electric lines to cross through his property. The line was established later that year and furnished electricity to Jones' neighbors.

Again, on Feb. 18, 1986 , Tri-County again sought and received an easement from Monty Joe Roberts and again constructed an electric line.

On Oct. 11, 1995 , Roberts took possession of the property over which he had granted an easement nine years earlier.

Zigler wrote that he rendered judgment for the defendant, (Tri-County), and against the Plaintiff, (Cimarron River Ranch), and that the defendant holds a current legal right to operate and maintain its electric distribution system across the property. Zigler also wrote that Tri-County had vested property rights in the property purchased by the Cimarron River Ranch, in the form of easements, and that Cimarron River Ranch had notice of the easements when they took title to the property.

Cimarron River Ranch files motion to reconsider

In documents filed on Feb. 3, 2006 , Cimarron River Ranch filed a motion to reconsider. In the motion, Cimarron River Ranch is asking the judge to reconsider and rule in its favor in the second amended petition in an effort to have Tri-County Electric move their electric power lines.

In the motion, it is pointed out that the property abstract had note of a former litigation of Elzy Tanner v. A.L. Walthers and Bob Moore in relation to a “long established, clearly visible roadway” that had been used regularly by the plaintiff, (Tanner), for more than 18 years across the defendant's property to adjoining property of the plaintiff. The decision was that the road had become a public roadway, and that the plaintiffs were enjoined from interfering with the defendant's use of the road. However, the motion points out, that decision of the district court was later overturned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, by ruling that “mere permissive use of a way over the land of another, however long indulged in, will not ripen into an easement.”

The motion contends that the abstracts disclose no easements of record to support the maintenance of electrical lines across the property except that signed by Monty Joe Roberts in 1986. The motion continues by making the claim that the property, (in 1986), was listed as The Annie Evelyn Roberts Trust as shown as “the undersigned” and was the party granting the easement; but that the document was not signed by The Annie Evelyn Roberts Trust, or any party purporting to act as trustee of the Trust.

The motion further contends that the easement of Feb. 4, 1952 was not notarized, recorded, and makes no reference to property in Section 33-6-1.

The motion contends that Cimarron River Ranch was aware of the existence of the lines on the property at the time of purchase and did make inquiry as to the rights, if any, of Tri-County to maintain them, and that Oklahoma law is clear that even without an inquiry, if the rights of the possessing party are not enforceable that the purchaser of the property takes the property free of those interests.

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