Zigler denies Cimarron River Ranch

by C.F. David

In a decision sent down on March 6, District Judge Greg Zigler once again denied Cimarron River Ranch, (CRR) of Kenton their request to force Tri-County Electric, (T-CE), to move electric lines running across the ranch's property.

Cimarron River Ranch is located in Cimarron County 's west end, near Kenton and is comprised of both deeded and leased school land. The owner of record is Samuel Parker, his father James Parker, acts as his son's consultant.

Part of the deeded property was grassland purchased by Parker from Monty Joe Roberts. The land was cleared and two circle irrigation systems were installed.

 

On one plot was an electric line, owned and maintained by T-CE since 1952. The line prevents the operation of one of the irrigation systems.

On Jan. 26, Zigler denied a summary judgment filed by CRR in an effort to have the line removed. In the denial, Zigler pointed out that T-CE had obtained an easement from Tom E. Jones on Feb. 4, 1952 , and that on Feb. 18, 1986 had sought and received an easement from Monty Joe Roberts, (The property at that time was owned by the Evelyn Roberts Trust). Upon receiving the 1986 easement from Roberts, another line was constructed.

After the Jan. 26, 2006 decision by Zigler, CRR then filed a motion to reconsider. That motion was heard on March 2.

In asking the court to reconsider its decision, Stan Manske, the attorney of record for CRR, told Zigler that the application to reconsider wasn't meant as an insult to the court. Manske continued by complimenting the court on its string of “accurate” decisions, but then explained that they struggled to understand its decision on the summary judgment.

“The 1952 Jones easement was not notarized. It's not valid if not recorded,” Manske said.

Manske then challenged the 1986 easement signed by Monty Joe Roberts and pointed out that Evelyn Roberts Trust was the trustee and that Monty Joe Roberts was merely a tenant on the property.

“The plaintiff is struggling to understand the court's ruling,” Manske reiterated.

Clark Jett, attorney for T-CE stood and admitted that he didn't think he'd be able to persuade Manske, but hoped to persuade the court that it [the court] was correct in its Jan. 26 decision.

“Our request is that the court deny this reconsideration,” Jett said. “Mr. Manske simply says that the court hasn't correctly applied Oklahoma law,” he added. “Tri-County electric's power line is clearly visible,” he continued.

To answer Manske's charge that Monty Joe Roberts shouldn't have signed the 1986 easement, Jett pointed to the fact that the easement had been a matter of record for 20 years, and the tap line established with that easement was built 20 years ago.

“The court's decision is not inconsistent. Your ruling is consistent with cases we've discussed and with recording statutes,” Jett argued. Cimarron River Ranch property is subject to the easement of Tri-county electric,” he continued.

In an attempt to rebut, Manske admitted that Jones had given an easement in 1952.

“Everyone was dying to get electricity to their homestead,” he said. “That right was granted by Tom E. Jones. Everyone was eager to turn on the electric lights, and turn off the coal oil lamps.” he continued.

But at that point, Manske contends, a permanent easement wasn't pursued. The Jones easement was never recorded and the Roberts easement wasn't signed by the property's trustee.

In his March 6 decision Zigler wrote that it remained an undisputed fact that T-CE obtained an easement from Tom E. Jones in 1952 and the fact that he never had his signature notarized had no impact on the validity of the easement. Zigler also brushed aside the contention that the easement wasn't recorded by pointing out that T-CE's electric line was clearly visible, and was clearly visible to CRR when the land was purchased, and that a reasonable inquiry would have revealed the easement.

 

As to the challenge of the 1986 easement Zigler wrote that the easement had been of record since March 25, 1986 and that Monty Joe Roberts took title of the land in question on Oct. 11, 1995, and that even if Roberts wasn't the proper representative of the trust and not authorized to execute the legal instrument at the time of its signing, the validity is no longer pursuant to Oklahoma Statutes.

“It remains an undisputed fact in 1986 Tri-county Electric Cooperative, Inc. in exercising its' rights under the Annie Evelyn Roberts Trust easement constructed an electric line,” Zigler wrote.

“In conclusion, there is nothing for this court to reconsider. Plaintiff's Motion is ordered denied.”

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