865 F.3d 1094 (8th Cir. 2017), 16-3715, Enerplus Resources (USA) Corp. v. Wilkinson

Docket Nº:16-3715
Citation:865 F.3d 1094
Opinion Judge:SMITH, Chief Judge.
Party Name:Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff - Appellee v. Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Defendant - Appellant, Three Affiliated Tribes, Fort Berthold District Court, Defendant, Reed Alan Soderstrom, agent for Wilber D. Wilkinson, Defendant - Appellant, Ervin J. Lee, an individual, Defendant
Attorney:For Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff - Appellee: Neal S. Cohen, Fox & Rothschild, Denver, CO. For Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Reed Soderstrom, agent for Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Defendants - Appellants: Reed Soderstrom, Pringle & Herigstad, Minot, ND.
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 02, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
SUMMARY

After Enerplus mistakenly overpaid mineral royalties to defendant and demanded repayment, defendant filed suit in tribal court. Enerplus then filed suit in federal court, seeking the return of the excess funds and a declaration that the tribal court lacked jurisdiction over the dispute. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to preliminarily enjoin defendant from proceeding... (see full summary)

 
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Page 1094

865 F.3d 1094 (8th Cir. 2017)

Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff - Appellee

v.

Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Defendant - Appellant,

Three Affiliated Tribes, Fort Berthold District Court, Defendant,

Reed Alan Soderstrom, agent for Wilber D. Wilkinson, Defendant - Appellant,

Ervin J. Lee, an individual, Defendant

No. 16-3715

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 2, 2017

Submitted May 9, 2017.

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck.

For Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff - Appellee: Neal S. Cohen, Fox & Rothschild, Denver, CO.

For Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Reed Soderstrom, agent for Wilbur D. Wilkinson, Defendants - Appellants: Reed Soderstrom, Pringle & Herigstad, Minot, ND.

Before SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1095

SMITH, Chief Judge.

Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation (" Enerplus" ) mistakenly overpaid mineral royalties to Wilbur Wilkinson and demanded a return of the excess funds. In response, Wilkinson sued Enerplus in tribal court. Enerplus then filed suit in federal court, seeking the return of the excess funds and a declaration that the tribal court lacked jurisdiction over the dispute. The district court1 preliminarily enjoined Wilkinson from proceeding with his case in tribal court. Wilkinson appeals. We affirm.

I. Background

Wilbur Wilkinson sued Peak North Dakota, LLC (" Peak North" ) in tribal court. Subsequently, on October 4, 2010, Peak North and Wilkinson entered into a " Settlement Agreement, Full Mutual Release, Waiver of Claims and Covenant Not to Sue" (" Settlement Agreement" ),2 whereby Peak North agreed to assign Wilkinson an overriding royalty interest (ORRI) in certain oil and gas leases located in North Dakota.[3]

Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, Peak North and Wilkinson agreed that " any disputes arising under this Agreement and/or the transactions contemplated herein shall be resolved in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota Northwest Division and such court shall have exclusive jurisdiction hereunder and no party shall have the right to contest such jurisdiction or venue."

Page 1096

The Assigning Documents contained similar clauses, stating that all disputes " shall be resolved in the State Courts of the State of North Dakota or an applicable Federal District Court sitting in North Dakota and such courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction hereunder and neither [party] shall have the right to contest jurisdiction or venue."

In December 2010, Peak North merged with and into Enerplus, with Enerplus being the surviving entity. Because of an alleged clerical error between August 2014 and October 2015, Enerplus claims it overpaid the ORRI due to Wilkinson by $2,961,511.15. Upon discovering the error, Enerplus promptly, but unsuccessfully, sought return of the overpaid funds.

On February 29, 2016, Wilkinson sued Enerplus in the Fort Berthold Tribal Court, alleging Enerplus breached the Settlement Agreement by underpaying Wilkinson. Specifically, Wilkinson sought " an accounting on the leases, mineral acreage and [ORRI]" ; " an order...

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