Shelton v. Wright

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtMADDOX; TORBERT
Citation439 So.2d 55
PartiesHenry SHELTON, Corine S. Freeman, Gladys S. Schakleford and Zilla S. Wright v. George S. WRIGHT and Camille W. Cook. 82-473.
Decision Date23 September 1983

Page 55

439 So.2d 55
Henry SHELTON, Corine S. Freeman, Gladys S. Schakleford and Zilla S. Wright
v.
George S. WRIGHT and Camille W. Cook.
82-473.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Sept. 23, 1983.

Page 56

James D. Smith of Hubbard, Waldrop, Tanner & deGraffenried, Tuscaloosa, for appellants.

James J. Sledge of Rosen, Harwood, Cook & Sledge, Tuscaloosa, for appellees.

MADDOX, Justice.

This appeal involves a quiet title action involving the severed mineral estate of two specific parcels of real estate situated in Tuscaloosa County. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

The Tuscaloosa County lands which are the subject of this appeal are: 160 acres located in Section 26, Township 19 South, Range 11 West; and 240 acres located in Section 27, Township 19 South, Range 11 West. The appellants, who were the defendants below, and the appellees, who were the plaintiffs below, claim title to the mineral interests of these two parcels through a common grantor, E.B. Tierce, who acquired the mineral interests in 1914. The trial court, following the filing of the appellees' complaint, quieted title in the appellees, and this appeal followed.

The facts surrounding the conveyances appear as follows: By a deed dated March 8, 1915, E.B. Tierce, conveyed the mineral interests in the above described parcels of land to W.E. Bowers, who, along with his wife, mortgaged the mineral estates to Reuben H. Wright. The mortgage was then transferred to Bessie Wright Ragland, who purchased the mineral interests at a foreclosure sale, as evidenced by a foreclosure deed dated July 24, 1934. On the same day, an instrument was executed by Bessie Ragland conveying the mineral interests to Reuben Wright, which interests later passed to the appellees under the will of Reuben Wright.

The facts indicated that those individuals in the chain of title from W.E. Bowers to the appellees assessed the mineral interests for ad valorem taxes beginning in 1916, and continued without interruption through 1971. As to the mineral interests located in Section 26, assessment and payment of taxes continued unabated to the filing of this suit. In 1972, however, the Tuscaloosa County tax assessor inadvertently removed the mineral interests in Section 27 from the appellees' property assessment. This error was discovered by the appellees after the quiet title action was filed. The tax assessor corrected the error by making amended returns and noted on the returns the error and reason for the correction. The appellees subsequently paid the taxes for the entire period.

The appellants' claim rests on a mineral deed from E.B. Tierce to C.M. Ayres dated July 11, 1914. The deed to Ayres recites that the consideration was paid by a promissory note and reserves a vendor's lien. The interest of Ayres passed through three estates to the appellants, who gave an oil, gas and mineral lease to Conwood Exploration, Inc. Neither C.M. Ayres nor any of his devisees or the heirs of his devisees assessed the lands for taxation prior to the time the complaint was filed. After the complaint was filed, appellants assessed the mineral interests for taxation by means of an escape assessment.

The evidence indicates that there has been no development of the mineral rights, either through mining or drilling, for either oil or gas or other minerals. Consequently, neither party is in actual possession of the mineral interests.

I

The appellants contend that this is an adverse possession case under Code 1975,

Page 57

§ 6-5-200. As denominated in both the complaint and the trial judge's order, however, this is an in rem action to quiet title to the described mineral interests, pursuant to §§ 6-6-560 through 6-6-573. This statute is often referred to as the Grove Act.

In their reply brief, the appellants claim that the Grove Act was intended to clear up title disputes involving surface rights and not those title disputes involving mineral interests, although the statute contains no language which would otherwise limit its application to in rem proceedings resolving only surface right disputes. In fact, Section 6-6-570 contains the following pertinent wording: "When any person, natural or artificial, claims either in his own right or in any representative capacity whatsoever, to own any land or any interest therein ..." (emphasis added). This language suggests that the statute is applicable to establish a person's right or title irrespective of the type of interest claimed.

The fundamental rule of statutory construction is that a court is under a duty to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent as expressed in the statute, see e.g., Gundy v. Ozier, 409 So.2d 764, 765, 766 (Ala.1981), which may be gleaned from the language used, the reason and necessity for the act and the purpose sought to be obtained. See Rinehart v. Reliance Ins. Co., 273 Ala. 535, 538, 142 So.2d 254, 256 (1962).

The Grove Act, as originally enacted, was adopted for...

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42 practice notes
  • Ex parte Green, No. 1071195 (Ala. 4/9/2010), No. 1071195.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 9, 2010
    ...years on the lands or interest claimed, and no other person has paid taxes thereon during any part of said period.'" Shelton v. Wright, 439 So. 2d 55, 57 (Ala. 1983) (quoting Fitts v. Alexander, 277 Ala. 372, 375, 170 So. 2d 808, 810 (1965)). However, these three sets of circumstances can e......
  • Ex Parte Johnnie Mae Alexander Green Et Al.(in Re Frank Stokes, 1071195 and 1071204.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 9, 2010
    ...years on the lands or interest claimed, and no other person has paid taxes thereon during any part of said period.’ ” Shelton v. Wright, 439 So.2d 55, 57 (Ala.1983) (quoting Fitts v. Alexander, 277 Ala. 372, 375, 170 So.2d 808, 810 (1965)). However, these three sets of circumstances can exi......
  • Ankrom v. State, CR–09–1148.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2011
    ...will attempt to ascertain and to effectuate the intent of the Alabama Supreme Court as set out in the rule” and citing Shelton v. Wright, 439 So.2d 55 (Ala.1983) ). As an intermediate appellate court, this Court may interpret and apply the existing rules of procedure, but it may not rewrite......
  • Ankrom v. State, CR-09-1148
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2011
    ...will attempt to ascertain and to effectuate the intent of the Alabama Supreme Court as set out in the rule" and citing Shelton v. Wright, 439 So. 2d 55 (Ala. 1983)). As an intermediate appellate court, this Court may interpret and apply the existing rules of procedure, but it may not rewrit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Ex parte Green, No. 1071195 (Ala. 4/9/2010), No. 1071195.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 9, 2010
    ...years on the lands or interest claimed, and no other person has paid taxes thereon during any part of said period.'" Shelton v. Wright, 439 So. 2d 55, 57 (Ala. 1983) (quoting Fitts v. Alexander, 277 Ala. 372, 375, 170 So. 2d 808, 810 (1965)). However, these three sets of circumstances can e......
  • Ex Parte Johnnie Mae Alexander Green Et Al.(in Re Frank Stokes, 1071195 and 1071204.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 9, 2010
    ...years on the lands or interest claimed, and no other person has paid taxes thereon during any part of said period.’ ” Shelton v. Wright, 439 So.2d 55, 57 (Ala.1983) (quoting Fitts v. Alexander, 277 Ala. 372, 375, 170 So.2d 808, 810 (1965)). However, these three sets of circumstances can exi......
  • Ankrom v. State, CR–09–1148.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2011
    ...will attempt to ascertain and to effectuate the intent of the Alabama Supreme Court as set out in the rule” and citing Shelton v. Wright, 439 So.2d 55 (Ala.1983) ). As an intermediate appellate court, this Court may interpret and apply the existing rules of procedure, but it may not rewrite......
  • Ankrom v. State, CR-09-1148
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2011
    ...will attempt to ascertain and to effectuate the intent of the Alabama Supreme Court as set out in the rule" and citing Shelton v. Wright, 439 So. 2d 55 (Ala. 1983)). As an intermediate appellate court, this Court may interpret and apply the existing rules of procedure, but it may not rewrit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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