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UNITED STATES v. 706.98 ACRES OF LAND

January 13, 1958

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
706.98 ACRES OF LAND IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, ARKANSAS; BLACK SPRINGS LUMBER COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, AND ALFRED FEATHERSTON, INTERVENOR.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

The question before the Court is whether the intervenor, Alfred Featherston, should be permitted to intervene in the instant case, and his right to intervene will be determined largely from the record in the case.

The record in the instant case discloses the following facts:

On May 30, 1932, Ed B. Mooney and Fannie L. Mooney, his wife, entered into a written agreement to sell certain lands owned by them to the United States, including "Tract 373o T 4 S, R 27 W, S 20, S1/2 SE, 80 acres at $2.75 per acre".

On October 10, 1933, the United States filed a petition in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, alleging among other things that it had entered into an agreement of purchase with Ed B. Mooney and Fannie L. Mooney, his wife, the apparent and presumptive owners of "Tract 373o, T 4 S, R 27 W, Sec. 20, S1/2SE, 80 acres", but that the United States had some doubt as to the title to the lands, and in order to obtain perfect title it was necessary for the United States to condemn the lands. The United States prayed for a judgment condemning the land upon payment of just compensation to the owners.

The action brought by the United States was styled "United States of America v. 706.98 acres of land in Montgomery County, Arkansas, Black Springs Lumber Company, et al., Civil Action No. 7836, Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division".

Attached to the petition for condemnation was a copy of the purchase agreement between the Mooneys and the United States and a plat of Tract 373o showing it to be the S1/2 of the SE1/4 of Section 20, Township 4 South, Range 27 West, in Montgomery County. The tract is also referred to on page 22-b of the petition as "S1/2 SE1/4 of Sec. 20, T 4 S, R 27 W", and on page 25 of the petition the tract is again referred to as "S1/2 SE1/4 of Sec. 20, T 4 S, R 27 W".

On December 5, 1933, Ed B. Mooney and wife filed a petition alleging ownership of "Tract 373o, T 4 S, R 27 W, S1/2SE S 20, 80 acres", and praying distribution of the money in the registry of the court.

The condemnation suit was duly prosecuted, and on April 12, 1934, the jury returned a verdict finding just compensation to be $220 ($2.75 per acre for 80 acres) for the Ed B. Mooney Tract No. 373o. On July 11, 1934, the Court entered an order reciting payment by the United States in the registry of the court of the just compensation and ordering that all right, title, and interest of the defendants be divested and that an indefeasible and unencumbered title in fee simple be vested in the United States.

On April 27, 1934, the Court entered a judgment reciting the verdict of the jury and reciting that Ed B. Mooney and Fannie L. Mooney are "the owners of the fee simple title in and to the following described lands situate in Montgomery County, in the State of Arkansas, to-wit: * * * S1/2SE1/4, Section 20, Township 4 South, Range 26 West". (Emphasis added.) The judgment divests the title out of the Mooneys and vests title in fee simple in the United States.

On June 26, 1956, the case was transferred from the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, to the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division. (This change was made because Montgomery County, which had formerly been located in the Eastern District of Arkansas, was changed to the Western District of Arkansas.)

Upon being transferred, the case retained the same style but was assigned No. 675 in the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division. Thus, the action now before the Court is the same one that was filed by the United States on October 10, 1933, and it merely has a new number by reason of the transfer from the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, to the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division.

On July 13, 1956, the United States filed a motion under Rule 60, Fed.RulesCiv.Proc., 28 U.S.C.A., to correct a clerical mistake in the judgment. The United States alleged that Tract 373o was located in Range 27 West, but that by clerical error the judgment recited that the tract was located in Range 26 West.

On July 13, 1956, the Court, "upon motion of the United States of America, and from the pleadings, process, jury verdict, judgment, and record in the above-entitled cause" found that Tract 373o was located in Range 27 West; that fee simple title in said tract was divested out of Ed B. Mooney and Fannie L. Mooney and vested absolutely in the United States in the condemnation proceeding; and that the United States was entitled under Rule 60, F.R.C.P., to correction of the clerical mistake. The Court ordered the clerical mistake corrected to properly describe the tract as being in Range 27 West.

On July 1, 1957, the intervenor, Alfred Featherston, filed his "Intervention and Motion to Set Aside Judgment". Among other things, the intervenor alleges that on July 31, 1954, he obtained a quitclaim deed from Ed B. Mooney, an unmarried person, to "S1/2SE1/4, Sec. 20, Twp. 4 S.R. 27 West, containing 80 acres, more or less", and that said deed was filed of record September 10, 1954, and duly recorded in the Deed Records of Montgomery County, Arkansas. He alleges he is an innocent purchaser for value of said lands, which are wild and unimproved, and that he has paid all taxes on said lands for the past three years. He alleges that he bought such lands "after making a thorough search ...


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