321 F.2d 468 (10th Cir. 1963), 7156, Buell v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Docket Nº:7156.
Citation:321 F.2d 468
Party Name:Temple Hoyne BUELL, Appellant, v. SEARS, ROEBUCK AND CO., a New York Corporation, Appellee.
Case Date:July 29, 1963
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Page 468

321 F.2d 468 (10th Cir. 1963)

Temple Hoyne BUELL, Appellant,


SEARS, ROEBUCK AND CO., a New York Corporation, Appellee.

No. 7156.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

July 29, 1963

Rehearing Denied Aug. 29, 1963.

Page 469

Laurence W. DeMuth, Jr., Denver, Colo. (Pauline J. Nelson, Denver, Colo., on the brief), for appellant.

Ira Rothgerber, Denver, Colo. (William P. Johnson, Denver, Colo., and Robert S. Slosky, Colorado Springs, Colo., on the brief), for appellee.

Before PICKETT and SETH, Circuit Judges, and CHRISTENSEN, District judge.

CHRISTENSEN, District Judge.

This suit to quiet title was removed from a state court to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado by reason of claimed diversity of citizenship. The appellant Buell, who was plaintiff in the lower court and who will be referred to herein as such, sued the defendant Sears, Roebuck and Co. to quiet title to a strip of land which the plaintiff originally had dedicated for street purposes. Presented here is a problem of state law concerning the effect upon title between the parties of a dedication by the owner and the subsequent vacation by the City and County of Denver of the portion of the street immediately abutting land now owned by the defendant-appellee, Sears, Roebuck and Co.

The trial court held that under the Colorado statute, C.R.S. 1953, 120-1-12, the vacated property vested in fee in the adjoining owner. Buell v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., 205 F.Supp. 865 (D.C.D.Colo.1962). It unconditionally quieted in favor of defendant and against plaintiff on defendant's counterclaim the 'complete fee simple title' in and to the property in question 1 and decreed that each and every other party to the action had no right, title or interest therein.

The plaintiff on this appeal contends that the trial court erred in so doing, and in failing to award the vacated strip to plaintiff as prayed for in his complaint.

On the merits, little need be said beyond what is contained in the opinion of the lower court. That opinion illustrates the situation of the land and ably analyzes the problem of local law involved. We see no reason to repeat the details of the lower court's reasoning, with which we find ourselves in substantial agreement.

We think that the trial court correctly indicated that under Colorado law there was 'vested' in the city by the original dedication the fee title to the surface and so much of the subsurface as was reasonably necessary for street and highway purposes. This was in line with the Colorado authorities exemplified by City of Leadville v. Bohn Milling Co., 37 Colo. 248, 86 P. 1038, 8 L.R.A., N.S., 422 (1906). This case involved, as the court points out, a statute almost identical with Section 139-1-7 2 in force at

Page 470

the time of the dedication in question. The trial court also properly held that since only a portion of the street was vacated, subdivision (2) of Section 120-1-12, C.R.S. 1953, applied. 3

The further holding that the vacation statute operated to vest in the adjoining owner not only the title which initially passed to the city and county but the complete legal title to both surface and subsurface rights is not so clearly supportable, although Skerritt Inv. Co. v. City of Englewood, 79 Colo. 645, 248 P. 6 (1926), presages such a result. In any event there is no authority from the courts of Colorado on this point to the contrary. Under such circumstances we should accept the determination of the trial court as to local law unless clearly convinced to the contrary. Dallison v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., 313 F.2d 343 (10th Cir. 1962); Mitton v. Granite State Fire Inc. Co., 196 F.2d 988 (10th Cir. 1952); F. & S Construction Co. v. Berube at al., 322 . f, 2d 782 (10th Cir. 1963). We agree with the trial court that there are no constitutional difficulties to the construction indicated. A dedicator, even though not immediately divested of subsurface rights, is on notice at the time of dedication that if a portion of the dedicated street should be vacated by the city and county unconditional title would vest in the adjoining owner.

Before closing this opinion a jurisdictional...

To continue reading