Grinde v. Tindall

Decision Date06 April 1977
Docket NumberNo. 13504,13504
Citation562 P.2d 818,172 Mont. 199
PartiesArthur GRINDE et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. Francis M. TINDALL and Marian B. Tindall, his wife, Defendants and Appellants.
CourtMontana Supreme Court

Robert L. Johnson, Torger S. Oaas (argued), Lewistown, for defendants and appellants.

Bradley B. Parrish (argued), Lewistown, for plaintiffs and respondents.

HARRISON, Justice.

In a claim and delivery action tried before the district court, Fergus County, without a jury, the court found plaintiffs are entitled to the possession of certain property constituting a fuel tank installation. Defendants appeal.

During World War II the United States government constructed and placed a fueling system on land belonging to Frank and Mary Hruska. The site was adjacent to the Lewistown Air Force Base and the government entered into a lease with Hruskas for the 7 acres of land upon which the fueling system was located. The lease provided that the structures placed on the land would remain property of the government and could be removed or otherwise disposed of by the government.

In 1947, the lease was renewed for a 10 year period. In June 1948, the government transferred and quitclaimed the fueling system and the fence surrounding it to the city-county airport commission of the city of Lewistown and county of Fergus, which plaintiffs herein represent. In July 1957, the commission entered into another lease with Hruskas. Again in May 1969, another lease was entered into with Hruskas similar to the leases of 1947 and 1957. The 1969 lease was for a period of 3 years with an option for an additional 3 years. The rental was $40 per year and Hruskas were paid $75 at the time of the execution of the 1969 lease.

In June 1970, Hruskas sold certain real property to defendants herein Francis and Marian Tindall. This sale included the 7 acres leased by plaintiff commission. In 3 of the contract for deed appears this statement:

'The Airport Commission leases about 7 acres in the South part of SE 1/4 SW 1/4 and/or SW 1/4 SE 1/4 of said Section 17, and Buyer will take said land subject thereto and he shall be entitled to all rents hereafter paid thereon. The six fuel storage tanks and stands thereon are owned by said Commission and they do not go with the land.'

When the 1959 lease expired the commission attempted to gain possession of the fueling installation but were refused possession by defendants who contend the fuel tanks are fixtures to the land. Defendants argue that while the United States government retained right of removal, the right did not pass to the commission and even if it did pass those rights terminated in 1972 when the 1969 lease expired, or in 1970 when the commission stopped paying rent.

While the parties argue the controlling issue is whether the fueling installation is real or personal property, we find the above quoted statement from 3 of the contract for deed controls. However, we will consider the issues raised.

Defendant argue section 67-209, R.C.M.1947, is controlling. However, in Pritchard Petroleum Co. v. Farmers Co-op, 117 Mont. 467, 161 P.2d 526, this Court in interpreting that statute held it to be merely a rule for general guidance concerning itself more with ultimate than with probative facts. This Court's cases hold that proper test for determining whether a particular object has become a fixture or not, is said to comprise (1) annexation to the realty, (2) an adaption to the use to which the realty is devoted and (3) intent that the object become a permanent accession to the land. Of these three, the intent of the parties has the most weight and is the controlling factor. Montana Electric Co. v. Northern Valley Mining Co., 51 Mont. 266, 153 P. 1017; Sanders v. Butte Motor Co., 142 Mont. 524, 385 P.2d 263; Shipler v. Potomac Copper Co., 69 Mont. 86, 220 P. 1097; Butte Electric Ry. Co. v. Brett, 80 Mont. 12, 257 P. 478.

Considering the evidence before the trial court clearly the intent of all parties, prior to defendant's arrival, was that the fueling system installation was to be considered personal property after it was...

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3 cases
  • Schwend v. Schwend
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • August 19, 1999
    ...Metal Co. v. Northwestern Bank of Helena (1983), 205 Mont. 323, 329, 667 P.2d 958, 961 (emphasis added) (citing Grinde v. Tindall (1977), 172 Mont. 199, 201-02, 562 P.2d 818, 820). ¶ 16 This Court has never addressed the specific question of whether an irrigation system is a fixture. Howeve......
  • Pacific Metal Co. v. Northwestern Bank of Helena
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • August 5, 1983
    ...which it is annexed to the realty are factors of lesser weight than evidence of the parties' intent. As held in Grinde v. Tindall (1977), 172 Mont. 199, 201-02, 562 P.2d 818, 820: "This Court's cases hold the proper test for determining whether a particular object has become a fixture or no......
  • Frederick C. Munchmeyer and Denise H. Munchmeyer v. Irvin G. Burfield
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • March 26, 1996

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