883 F.3d 1015 (8th Cir. 2018), 16-4172, Roberts v. Unimin Corp.

Docket Nº:16-4172
Citation:883 F.3d 1015
Opinion Judge:ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Kathy ROBERTS; Karen McShane, Plaintiffs-Appellants v. UNIMIN CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee
Attorney:Benjamin R. Askew, Kevin M. Carnie, Jr., John G. Simon, THE SIMON LAW FIRM, Saint Louis, MO, for Plaintiffs-Appellants. Barrett S. Moore, Robert D. Stroud, BLAIR & STROUD, Batesville, AR, for Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, Chief Judge, ARNOLD and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 28, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 1015

883 F.3d 1015 (8th Cir. 2018)

Kathy ROBERTS; Karen McShane, Plaintiffs-Appellants

v.

UNIMIN CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee

No. 16-4172

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 28, 2018

Submitted: December 12, 2017

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas— Batesville

Benjamin R. Askew, Kevin M. Carnie, Jr., John G. Simon, THE SIMON LAW FIRM, Saint Louis, MO, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Barrett S. Moore, Robert D. Stroud, BLAIR & STROUD, Batesville, AR, for Defendant-Appellee.

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

OPINION

ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

Page 1016

For the past century, the Williamson family has leased out a plot of Arkansas land for silica mining. The current lease, signed in 1961, provides for a term of years until 2007 and continuing " as long thereafter as" certain activities occur on the property. In 2015, Kathy Roberts and Karen McShane (both né e Williamson), the present lessors, sought a declaratory judgment against Unimin Corporation, the present lessee, that the lease created a tenancy at will. The lessors claimed further that the lease was unconscionable and that Unimin had unjustly enriched itself by refusing to vacate the land when they demanded possession. After the close of discovery, the lessors dismissed their unconscionability claim with prejudice. The district court1 granted summary judgment to Unimin on the remaining claims, ruling that the lease had created a determinable leasehold, not a tenancy at will, and so Unimin did not unjustly enrich itself by staying in possession. The lessors appeal from that judgment, and we affirm.

We review the district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo, keeping in mind that summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute of material fact and, viewing the record in a light most favorable to the lessors, Unimin is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See

Smith v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc., 664 F.3d 1208, 1212 (8th Cir. 2012). We also review the district court’s construction of the lease and its interpretation of state law de novo. Id. The parties to this diversity action agree that Arkansas law governs. See id.

On appeal, the lessors challenge only the district courts ruling that the lease created a determinable leasehold and not a tenancy at will. The lease provides that the leasehold will endure as long as " siliceous materials" are " shipped" from the lessees mill and at least one of the following activities also takes place on the land: " mining," " mining operations," or...

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