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Union Oil Co. v. Smith

United States Supreme Court
249 U.S. 337 (1919)


The Union Oil Company (Union Oil) (defendant) located five contiguous mining claims on several acres of land. Union Oil was not in actual occupation of the five claims. Smith (plaintiff) and his associates occupied one of the claims while Union Oil was engaged in exploratory drilling on a contiguous claim. Union Oil never found oil on the site occupied by Smith. Both Union Oil and Smith filed claims to the site. Smith brought action against Union Oil in state trial court to resolve the dispute. Union Oil asserted a possessory right to the disputed claim based on the fact that Union Oil had located the five contiguous claims. The trial court ruled in favor of Smith, and the state supreme court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted a writ of error to review the case.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pitney, J.)

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