United Park City Mines Co. v. Estate of Clegg

Citation737 P.2d 173
Decision Date31 March 1987
Docket Number18841,Nos. 18835,s. 18835
PartiesUNITED PARK CITY MINES COMPANY, a corporation, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. ESTATE OF Vernon H. CLEGG, Zula C. Brinkerhoff, Burk O. Clegg, personally and as personal representative of the Estate of Neil C. Clegg, TIDC, Inc., a corporation, Dawnette Schaffer Clegg, Carol Ann C. Zoellner, Verna J. Allgier, George V. Clegg, personally and as personal representative of the Estate of Vernon H. Clegg, Verdon C. Brinkerhoff, Leon D. Brinkerhoff, Dermont A. Brinkerhoff, La Verle C. Giles, Sandra London, Dorothy Clegg, Ted Clegg, and Boyd Clegg, Defendants and Appellants.
CourtSupreme Court of Utah

Richard H. Thornley, Ogden, for defendants and appellants.

Douglas L. Davies, Lowell V. Summerhays, Edward T. Wells, Alan L. Sullivan, Harriett Styler, Salt Lake City, for plaintiff and respondent.

STEWART, Associate Chief Justice:

United Park City Mines Company (United Park) brought this action in district court to quiet title to nine patented mining claims in Summit County. Some of the defendants (the Cleggs) counterclaimed to quiet title in them. The Cleggs argued, among other things, that they had obtained title to the surface estate by adverse possession. At the close of evidence on the Cleggs' adverse possession claim, United Park moved for a directed verdict on that claim and the Cleggs' other claims. The trial court granted the motion on the adverse possession claim only. The Cleggs appeal this directed verdict claiming adverse possession founded upon a written instrument. We affirm.


On May 22, 1929, Charles David Clegg (C.D. Clegg) and his wife, Martha Clegg, received a patent from the United States for approximately 172 acres of mining claims in Park City. They previously held unpatented claims to the same property which they transferred by mineral deed to the Silver King Extension Mining Company (Silver King), a corporation formed by C.D. Clegg and Clarence Bamberger for the purpose of holding the claims. After the patents were received, C.D. Clegg and his wife transferred the patented claims, again by mineral deed, to Silver King. The mineral deeds transferred both the surface and mineral estates, although the Cleggs claimed below that they thought the surface estate had been reserved. In exchange for the claims, C.D. Clegg and his son Neil received one-half of the stock of Silver King. Over the next two decades, Silver King occasionally worked the mining claims. C.D. Clegg, and later his son Vernon Clegg, personally worked the claims for Silver King pursuant to an agreement. C.D. Clegg died in 1961, and his stock in Silver King passed to his children. Silver King transferred its entire interest in the mining claims to United Park in 1974 upon the dissolution of Silver King. The Cleggs consented to this dissolution and sale.

For several years, the Cleggs, by a series of written and oral leases, leased the surface estate of the mining claims to a Gillmor family. The Gillmors in turn traded the lease to the Jordan Livestock Company. The Jordan Livestock Company used the surface two to three months out of each year for grazing sheep. Other possessory activities claimed by the Cleggs include activities directly related to the mineral estate, such as building and maintaining a small building to house a compressor and maintaining the Silver King Extension Tunnel and a dirt road from the tunnel to the mine dump. The Cleggs also used the surface for recreational activities, such as picnicking and riding dirt bikes and dune buggies.

From 1931 to the commencement of this action, the Utah State Tax Commission levied and assessed taxes to Silver King and United Park on the mining claims and separately on the compressor pursuant to U.C.A., 1953, §§ 59-5-3 and -57 (1974 ed.). Prior to 1979, Summit County never made a separate assessment on the surface. The Cleggs were aware that Silver King paid taxes on the mining claim. In 1979, shortly before this action was commenced, the Cleggs requested Summit County to assess them for the value of the surface estate. The County complied and assessed taxes on the surface estate for the years 1979, 1980, and 1981, and the Cleggs paid those taxes. They made no effort prior to 1979 to pay taxes on the surface value.

The Cleggs argue that they had a claim of title to the surface based on the mineral deeds because they thought the deeds conveyed only the mineral estate. Under these deeds they claim adverse possession founded upon a written instrument pursuant to U.C.A., 1953, §§ 78-12-8 and -9 (1977 ed.). But the Cleggs also assert that they did not have to pay taxes on the surface estate pursuant to § 78-12-12 because separate taxes were never assessed. We hold, however, that under these circumstances, the Cleggs should have affirmatively sought tax assessments on the value of the surface estate as used for other than mining purposes to establish a prima facie adverse possession claim. We need not, therefore, address the Cleggs' other arguments.


For the Cleggs to prevail in an adverse possession claim, they must show that "all taxes which have been levied and assessed upon such land according to law" were paid by them for the statutory seven-year period. § 78-12-12. Taxes were levied and assessed on mining claims during the relevant period pursuant to § 59-5-57, which at the time read in relevant part as follows:

All metalliferous mines and mining claims ... shall be assessed at $5.00 per acre and in addition thereto at a value equal to two times the average net annual proceeds thereof for the three calendar years next preceding or for as many years next preceding as the mine has been operating, whichever is less; .... All machinery used in mining and all property or surface improvements upon or appurtenant to mines or mining claims and the value of any surface use made of mining claims or mining property for other than mining purposes shall be assessed at thirty per cent of their reasonable fair cash value. In all cases where the surface of lands is owned by one person and the mineral underlying such lands is owned by another, such property rights shall be separately assessed to the respective owners. In such cases the value of the surface if it is used for other than mining purposes shall be assessed by the...

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3 cases
  • Gillmor v. Blue Ledge Corp.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • 27 Agosto 2009
    ...of the mining location, as well as to the land beneath the surface." Id. at 406, 6 S.Ct. 95; see also United Park City Mines Co. v. Estate of Clegg, 737 P.2d 173, 176 (Utah 1987) (stating "mining claims presumptively include both the surface and mineral estates, unless a severance has ¶ 18 ......
  • Marchant v. Park City, 890139
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • 5 Marzo 1990
    ...Mansfield v. Neff, 43 Utah 258, 134 P. 1160 (1913).12 See Royal St. Land Co. v. Reed, 739 P.2d 1104 (Utah 1987); United Park City Mines Co. v. Clegg, 737 P.2d 173 (Utah 1987).13 Marchant, 771 P.2d at 680.14 Crane v. Crane, 683 P.2d 1062 (Utah 1984).15 Marchant, 771 P.2d at 682; see also Gar......
  • Royal Street Land Co. v. Reed
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • 9 Julio 1987
    ...the surface use, defendants were not required to pay them. This result is in accord with our recent decision in United Park City Mines Co. v. Clegg, 737 P.2d 173 (Utah 1987). There, we reaffirmed our holding in Utah Copper Co. v. Eckman, 47 Utah 165, 152 P. 178 (1915), and in Utah Copper Co......

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