Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lipsey v. Giles

Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 17, 2016

MAURICE R. LIPSEY, WILLIAM LARRY COX, and CONNIE L. COX, APPELLANTS
v.
KAREN GILES, APPELLEE

Page 367

          APPEAL FROM THE CLEBURNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV-2011-223-4. HONORABLE TIM WEAVER, JUDGE.

         Holton Law Firm, PLLC, by: John R. Holton, for appellants.

         Eric Bray; and PPGMR Law, PLLC, by: Kimberly D. Logue, for appellee.

          OPINION

         

Page 368

          ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

         Maurice R. Lipsey, William Larry Cox, and Connie L. Cox appeal from an order of the Cleburne County Circuit Court granting summary judgment in favor of appellee Karen Giles on their complaint. They argue that the circuit court erred by granting summary judgment because (1) Giles failed to come forth with proof on their theories of damages and (2) they met Giles's lack of proof with proof of a question of material fact as to the existence of damages. As this court has previously heard an appeal in this case, our jurisdiction is pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 1-2(a)(7) (2015). We affirm the grant of summary judgment.

         Appellants are property owners and holders of oil-and-gas leases in Cleburne County. Karen Giles is the Cleburne County Circuit Court Clerk. Appellants filed a class-action complaint in which they alleged that Giles and two of her deputies falsely and fraudulently notarized oil-and-gas leases. Specifically, the complaint alleged that landmen, who were procuring the leases on behalf of oil-and-gas companies, obtained landowners' signatures on the leases and delivered them to the clerk's office, where the clerks notarized the signatures and recorded the leases, despite the fact that the clerks had not witnessed the landowners signing the leases. Appellants alleged that their leases were fraudulently notarized; however, they did not allege that their leases were fraudulently or illegally procured. Appellants sought an injunction requiring appellee to " inspect and verify each and every oil and gas lease received for recording and filing to determine if the notarial acknowledgment is accurate, true, and correct." Appellants sought to enjoin appellee to " purge any and all oil and gas leases which contain false notarial acknowledgments." Appellants also sought costs and attorney's fees.

         After discovery had commenced, appellants filed a motion for injunction. During the hearing on the motion for injunction, the circuit court questioned appellants regarding their damages. After concluding that appellants had not been damaged, the circuit court dismissed the case on its own motion. Appellants appealed from the written order dismissing the case. This court reversed and remanded, holding that the sua sponte dismissal deprived appellants of notice and the opportunity to meet proof with proof and demonstrate that a material question of fact existed regarding whether they had suffered damages due to the allegations in the complaint. Lipsey v. Giles, 2014 Ark. 309, 439 S.W.3d 13.

         Following remand of the case to the trial court, Giles filed a motion for summary judgment in which she alleged that appellants had failed to demonstrate that they had suffered any damages as a result of the allegations in the complaint. Appellants opposed the motion and attached to their response an affidavit executed by Tom Ferstl, an attorney and certified appraiser. In the affidavit, Mr. Ferstl states that, in his opinion, the actions of Giles and the deputy clerks have had a " chilling effect" on property values in Cleburne County because buyers will be less likely to purchase property there knowing the uncertainty in the official county-property records. He further states that, in his

Page 369

opinion, appellants have been damaged by the inclusion of the fraudulently notarized leases in the county-property records. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order in which it found that appellants had failed to show any damages as a result of Giles's purportedly unlawful act in recording their leases and granted the motion for summary judgment. This appeal followed.

         The law is well settled regarding the standard of review used by this court in reviewing a grant of summary judgment. SeeBrock v. Townsell, 2009 Ark. 224, 309 S.W.3d 179. A trial court will grant summary judgment only when it is apparent that no genuine issues of material fact exist requiring litigation and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. The burden of proof shifts to the opposing party once the moving party establishes a prima facie entitlement to summary judgment; the opposing party must demonstrate the existence of a material issue of fact. Id. After reviewing the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.