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Butte Pipe Line Co. v. King

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

December 31, 2014



SAM E. HADDON, District Judge.


On September 9, 2014, Defendants Clarice Owen, Lyle [Curt] Owen, and Richard and Clarice Owens Testamentary Trust by and through Lyle [Curt] Owen, Trustee (the "Owens") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Supporting Brief, and a Statement of Uncontroverted Facts. Owens sought an order dismissing all of Butte Pipe Line Company's ("Butte") claims and imposing liability on Butte for constructing a new pipeline on their property.

On September 29, 2014, Butte filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, a Statement of Uncontroverted Facts, and Supporting Brief. Butte asked the Court to enter an order that the 1955 Easements were valid and allowed the construction of the new pipe line.

The Motions were fully briefed and the parties responded to each other's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts. Oral Argument was held on December 2, 2014. The Court entered its ruling at the close of arguments, and asked Butte to prepare proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. The Court now enters its Findings ofFact and Conclusions of Law.


As noted, both sides have submitted and responded to each other's Statements ofUncontroverted Facts. Beginning with the Owens' Statement of Uncontroverted Facts, Proposed Facts No.1 and No.2 are not disputed. Those facts are accepted as established.

Owens' Proposed Fact No.3 is not disputed as far as it goes; although there is undisputed evidence in this record that additional pipeline work was in fact done and the pipeline has been completed, other than perhaps some additional remediation work on Owens' property.

Owens' Proposed Fact No.4, as set forth by Owens, is not disputed. Insofar as the language of the easement is concerned, there is a suggestion in the Owens' statement that the easement "purports" to do thus and so. The Court takes the "purports" language to be in substance argument. The Court accepts as established the fact of what the easement says and does not accept the declaration that the easement purports to do something. That is an argument, not a fact. Owens' Proposed Fact No.5 as set forth by Owens is not disputed as a matter of fact, except that there is an assertion that in the statement that the Pipe Line Company attempted to do certain activities. The Court accepts the facts as stated, but not the declaration of "attempted."

Owens' Proposed Fact No.6 is, in substance, an argument on a position statement and it's not accepted as fact for purposes ofthis motion. The same is true for Owens' Proposed Fact No.7.

Owens' Proposed Fact No.8 is disputed. It appears to the Court we have a clear conflict of facts in the record here, and the Court does not accept Proposed Fact No.8 as established for purposes ofthis summary judgment motion.

Owens' Proposed Fact No.9 is undisputed and will be accepted as established.

Owens' Proposed Fact No. 10 is an assertion about the pleadings and it is not a statement of fact appropriate for consideration for the summary judgment motions that are before the Court.

Turning to the Butte's statement of undisputed facts, there are a very high number that are not disputed and are, for all purposes, accepted. They are Proposed Facts: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. Those are all undisputed and are accepted as established for purposes of the motions before the Court.

With regard to Butte's Proposed Fact No.4, the amount paid is in dispute and is not accepted for purposes ofthis motion.

As to Butte's Proposed Fact No.6, the language of the 1955 easement is recited. The statement of the language in the easement is not challenged and that will be accepted for summary judgment purposes. Disputed matters which are arguments will not be accepted.

With respect to Butte's Proposed Fact No. 10, Owens assert that the new pipeline is not a replacement pipeline, but a new and a different pipeline. It appears to the Court, from the basis of the record that is in reality not disputed, we have a new pipeline that replaced in its function the prior pipeline.

The Courts Findings of Fact are as follows:

1. Clarice Owen and the Richard Owen Testamentary Trust own approximately 16, 000 acres, as tenants in common, in Carter County, Montana (the "Owen Ranch"). Lyle [Curt] Owen ("Mr. Owen") is a beneficiary and the trustee of the Richard Owen Testamentary Trust.

Owens SOUF No.1.

2. The Owen Ranch is burdened by easements, signed by the Owens' predecessors-in-interest in the year 1955 (the "Easement, " collectively) and conveyed to Defendant Butte Pipe Line Company ("Butte").

Owens SOUF No.2 and Butte SOUF No.2.

3. Butte is a common carrier pipeline that owns a 16-inch crude oil pipeline that transports crude oil from Baker, Montana to connecting carriers at Guernsey, Wyoming.

Butte SOUF No.1.

4. Copies of the 1955 Easements and maps showing the location of the easements were made exhibits at the January 3, 2014 hearing for Temporary Restraining Order.

Butte SOUF No.3.

5. The recording information and the servient estates for the ...

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