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Leathers v. Leathers

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

August 27, 2013

MICHAEL LEATHERS, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD LEATHERS, et al., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MONTI L. BELOT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the court on the following:

Plaintiff Michael Leathers’ Motion for Leave to File Summary Judgment Out of Time (Doc. 152) and Motion for Summary Judgment and Order Allowing Interpleader(Docs. 152-1, 151-2); Cross-Claimant United States’ Response (Doc. 153); Defendants/Counterclaimants Ronald Leathers and James Holden’s Response and Answer to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment and Interpleader (Docs. 154, 155); United States’ Motion for Rule 54(b) Entry of Judgment on Cross-Claim (Docs. 156, 157); Ronald Leathers’ and James Holden’s Objection (Docs. 160, 161); and United States’ Reply (Doc. 162).

I. Michael Leathers’ Motion for Leave (Doc. 152).

The parties and the court are all too familiar with the history of this case, so it will not be repeated here. The court now has before it Michael Leathers’ request for leave to file a summary judgment motion out of time and his request for an order of interpleader. The United States does not object and believes granting these motions would further resolution of the case. Ronald Leathers and James Holden oppose the requests.

Michael seeks leave to file an additional summary judgment motion in the wake of accountings by the energy companies who paid royalties to the Leathers. At a pretrial conference with the parties in August of 2012, the court set up a schedule for completion of the accountings, granted Ronald’s request to take additional discovery, and set up a briefing schedule for a summary judgment motion by the United States. The court has since resolved the United States’ motion for summary judgment. The final pretrial order has not yet been entered.[1]

The court finds that the circumstances warrant leave to file the additional summary judgment motion. The amount of royalties in dispute on Ronald’s claim of unjust enrichment was previously unknown, as was noted in the original pretrial order, but the accountings now establish both the amounts in dispute and the dates of payment. When these newly ascertained facts are applied to the court’s prior legal rulings, they provide a basis for narrowing the scope of the remaining claims as a matter of law.

The court finds plaintiff has shown good cause for filing the motion out of time; that the interests of justice – including the interest favoring just, speedy and inexpensive determination of actions (Fed. R. Civ. P. 1) – warrant granting leave; and that defendants will not suffer unfair prejudice or surprise from the filing of the motion (in fact, defendants have commendably included their responses to the summary judgment motion with their opposition to the request for leave). Michael’s motion for leave to file the summary judgment motion out of time is therefore granted. See St. Clair v. City of Iola, Ks., 1994 WL 129993, *1-2 (Mar. 2, 1994) (“The court, in the exercise of its discretion, finds that under the circumstances of this case it is a benefit to both the court and the parties to permit the defendant to file a motion for summary judgment out of time.”).

II. Michael Leathers’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 152-1, 152-2).

Facts.

The following facts are uncontroverted for purposes of summary judgment. See Doc. 155 at 3.

1. Michael Leathers first discovered he was receiving royalty payments that should have been paid to Ronald Leathers or Theresa Leathers in December of 2006.[2]

2. Only Merit Energy Company paid Michael Leathers royalties on petroleum production from the mineral interests that had been inherited by Michael’s brother Ronald Leathers.

3. The Merit Energy Company royalties which were mistakenly paid to Michael Leathers were royalties on petroleum production from two wells known as the Weeks ...


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