Marshal county wv property records
However, the parties dispute the meaning of language in the deed regarding the one-half interest in the oil and gas. In an affidavit, Ms. Over the next plus years after , tax documents indicate that Ms. McCardle paid real estate taxes on the one-half oil and gas interest.
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For instance, tax records from show Ms. McCardle stated that since she has paid all of the real estate taxes due on the surface estate and on the one-half oil and gas interest. The same tax documents show that, after conveying the property to Ms. McCardle in , the Yohos did not pay real estate taxes on the oil and gas interest. An entry in the tax records indicates that the Yohos were initially assessed taxes on the tract. There are no entries in the tax records suggesting that the Yohos paid taxes on the tract or the one-half oil and gas interest after In , Ms. McCardle entered into an oil and gas lease with defendant Gastar Exploration, Inc.
The lease covers the Marshall County tract described in the deed between Ms. McCardle and the Yohos. Gastar subsequently drilled a well and began extracting oil and gas from beneath the tract. Yoho died in ; Mr. Yoho died intestate in Then, in , sixteen years after Mr. Yoho's death, plaintiff Gary Rine was appointed administrator of the estate of Mr.
Yoho, to act on behalf of Mr. The Yoho heirs asserted that, in the deed, the Yohos retained ownership of the one-half undivided interest in the oil and gas.
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In other words, the heirs contend that the Yohos did not convey their one-half interest to Ms. McCardle, and that the interest eventually passed on to the Yoho heirs. The Yoho heirs alleged that the defendants have trespassed on their oil and gas interest and, by taking oil and gas from the ground, engaged in conversion. As relief, the Yoho heirs sought compensatory damages, an injunction, and an order creating a lease between the heirs and Gastar.
The Yoho heirs later amended the complaint to request a declaratory judgment interpreting the deed. In December , the parties informed the circuit court that they had agreed to dispose of the declaratory judgment action while staying the remainder of the case. Based upon the parties' agreement, the circuit court stayed discovery on all claims except the declaratory judgment claim.
In April , the Yoho heirs filed a motion for summary judgment on the declaratory judgment claim and stated that no genuine question of material fact existed regarding ownership of the disputed oil and gas rights. McCardle and unambiguously reserved to the Yohos ownership in the one-half interest in the oil and gas. The defendants opposed the motion and asked the circuit court to enter judgment in the defendants' favor. The defendants argued that the deed was ambiguous, and argued that the parties' actions in the decades after delivery of the deed left no question that the Yohos believed Ms.
McCardle was the sole owner of the one-half interest after In an order dated September 13, , the circuit court decided that the deed was clear and unambiguous. Defendants Gastar and Ms. McCardle now appeal the circuit court's declaratory judgment order. The salutary purpose of a declaratory judgment action is to resolve legal questions.
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We likewise review a circuit court's summary judgment order de novo. Because the purpose of a summary judgment proceeding is to expedite the disposition of a case and avoid unnecessary litigation and trials, we proceed with the well-established rule in mind that a summary judgment may be rendered against the party moving for judgment and in favor of the opposing party even though the opposing party has made no motion for summary judgment. As this Court once stated,. When it is found from the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file, and the affidavits of any party, in a summary judgment proceeding under Rule 56 of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, that a party who has moved for summary judgment in his favor is not entitled to such judgment and that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, a summary judgment may be rendered against [the moving] party in such proceeding.
The parties agree that, in , the Yohos purchased a one-half undivided interest in oil and gas. The parties' arguments center upon the interpretation of the deed, and whether the oil and gas interest was conveyed by the Yohos to Ms. When a deed expresses the intent of the parties in clear and unambiguous language, a court will apply that language without resort to rules of interpretation or extrinsic evidence. However, when a deed is inconsistent, confusing or ambiguous on its face, a court must look to extrinsic evidence of the parties' intent to construe the deed.
To enable the court to construe a deed or other writing, ambiguous on its face, it is always permissible to prove the situation of the parties, the circumstances surrounding them when the contract was entered into and their subsequent conduct giving it a practical construction, but not their verbal declarations.
But, if a latent ambiguity is disclosed by such evidence, such for instance as that the terms of the writing are equally applicable to two or more objects, when only a certain one of them was meant, then prior and contemporaneous transactions and collocutions of the parties are admissible, for the purpose of identifying the particular object intended.
The parties dispute whether the deed is ambiguous. The mere fact that parties do not agree to the construction of a deed does not alone render it ambiguous. The Yoho heirs assert that the deed is clear and unambiguous, and that the deed conveyed only the surface to defendant McCardle.
McCardle assert that the deed is ambiguous and is reasonably susceptible to several interpretations. In the opening paragraphs of the deed, the Yohos conveyed to Ms. The opening paragraphs are in harmony with West Virginia law, which presumes grantors in a deed intend to convey ownership of the whole interest that the grantors had power to dispose of. Because the later paragraph is identical to the oil-and-gas paragraph in the Franklins' deed, the defendants argue that the intent of the Yohos is ambiguous: they might have been referring to the one-half interest already reserved by the Franklins in , or they might have meant to keep for themselves the one-half interest.
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First, in , a predecessor deeded The defendants also offered the opinion of an expert on deeds. This expert noted that the deed was a general warranty deed. Under West Virginia law, a grantor who delivers a general warranty deed provides an actual warranty of the title and has an obligation to defend the grantee against any claims regarding the property. The defendant's expert was of the opinion that the exception and reservation of the one-half interest in oil and gas in the deed referred solely to the interest owned by the Franklins. The expert concluded that the Yohos included the exception and reservation as a way to limit their general warranty.
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In other words, the language used by the Yohos established they were not giving a warranty of title to the one-half interest owned by the Franklins, but that they otherwise were conveying their own one-half interest to Ms. After reviewing the parties' arguments, we find that the deed is ambiguous. The deed was poorly drafted, the language of the document is uncertain, and reasonable minds may disagree as to just what was conveyed. The deed does not express the precise intentions of the Yohos regarding the one-half interest in the oil and gas underlying the tract.
The Yohos may have intended to retain ownership of the one-half interest, as the Yoho heirs assert. The Yohos may have intended to convey ownership of the one-half interest, as the defendants assert.
Or, this Court discerns a third interpretation that neither party advanced: the Yohos may have intended to convey ownership of only a one-quarter interest. Our ultimate conclusion, then, is that the deed is ambiguous. We must therefore look to extrinsic evidence to understand the parties' intent.
Further, because of the ambiguity introduced into the deed by the Yohos, our law compels us to adopt the deed interpretation that is most favorable to the grantee, Ms. To divine the intent of the parties to an ambiguous deed, and to give the deed a practical construction, a court may consider the circumstances surrounding the parties when the deed was negotiated and delivered, and may consider their subsequent conduct. These tax records show that, before the Yohos conveyed the property in , the Yohos paid taxes on the one-half oil and gas interest.
McCardle in , Ms. McCardle paid the taxes on the same one-half oil and gas interest while the Yohos stopped paying the taxes altogether. The parties agreed before the circuit court that no questions of material fact existed on the declaratory judgment issue, and both parties asked for a declaratory judgment as a matter of law in their favor. On its face and within its four corners, a reasonable person can interpret the deed provision regarding ownership of the one-half oil and gas interest in several diametrically opposed ways.
We therefore find the deed provision to be ambiguous as a matter of law. We must construe that provision in favor of the grantee Ms. McCardle , against the grantors the Yohos , and in light of the parties' conduct in paying taxes before and after delivery of the deed in April In sum, on the record presented by the parties, there is no doubt that the Yohos intended to convey the oil and gas interest to Ms.
McCardle in The circuit court therefore erred in granting a declaratory judgment in favor of the heirs of Mr.
On this record, the circuit court should have entered judgment in favor of the defendants, Gastar and Ms. The circuit court erred in finding that the deed was unambiguous and in granting a declaratory judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, Mr. Rine and the other Yoho heirs. We therefore reverse the circuit court's September 13, , order, and remand the case for entry of judgment in favor of the defendants, Gastar and Ms. A affidavit in the record suggests that Ms.
McCardle is now Rona Rice. However, the parties, pleadings, tax records, and deed all use Ms. Rice's name as it was in Hence, for purposes of clarity and simplicity, throughout this opinion we refer to the defendant as Ms. Rine was the husband of one of Mr. Yoho's daughters, Linda Rine, who died after the complaint was filed. Rine asserts he is acting as a direct heir of Mr.
Yoho as well as the administrator of his estate. Amendments to the original complaint added other heirs of Mr.
Marshall County West Virginia Court Directory
Raleigh County is located in southern West Virginia. According to the U. Because of this, homeowners in the county generally pay low annual property taxes. Harrison County is the seventh most populous county in West Virginia. Property taxes in Harrison County are slightly higher than the state average. That ranks as the 18th lowest annual property tax payment in the entire state. Marion County is located southwest of Morgantown, in northern West Virginia. It has the second highest average property tax rate of any county in the state. The average effective property tax rate in Marion County is 0.
While the average effective property tax rate of 0.