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Gerhard v. Stephens

Supreme Court of California
442 P.2d 692 (1968)


Facts

Joseph Gerhard (plaintiff) owned mineral rights in a parcel of land, including the right to use the surface estate to extract the minerals. The owners of the surface estate entered into a mineral lease with a third-party lessee (defendants). Gerhard sued to quiet title. The defendants claimed that Gerhard had abandoned the mineral rights. The defendants also claimed that the surface owners had acquired the mineral interests via adverse possession, because they had used the surface land for more than 20 years. The defendants did not drill on the land until right before the litigation. The trial court found that the defendants had acquired title by adverse possession and that Gerhard’s mineral rights had been abandoned. Gerhard appealed, claiming that mineral interests were not subject to abandonment. Among other assertions, Gerhard pointed out that courts have ruled that a fee-simple interest in property could not be abandoned.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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