BRUCE SMITH AND JAN SMITH, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLANTS/CROSS-APPELLEES
MOUNTAIN PINE TIMBER, INC.; JOE T. BENTON III; RUSSELL A. BENTON; AND SHEILA SNOWDEN, IN HER CAPACITY AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF DANNY H. SNOWDEN, DECEASED, APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS
FROM THE CLEBURNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV-2010-210-4.
HONORABLE TIM WEAVER, JUDGE.
WAYNE BOWEN, GREG D TAYLOR, for appellants.
TURNER COLEMAN, MELVIN E MORGAN, RODNEY PAUL MOORE, SETH RYAN
JEWELL, for appellees.
GRUBER, Judge. ABRAMSON and VAUGHT, JJ., agree.
W. Gruber, Judge
appeal arises out of a mineral-rights dispute. Mountain Pine
Timber, Inc. (MPT), sold land located in Cleburne County,
Arkansas, to Bruce Smith and Jan Smith (the Smiths) and
claimed to convey
all rights to the land to them. However, MPT had previously
conveyed the mineral rights to the land to another entity.
The Smiths learned of the previous conveyance when they
attempted to sell the mineral rights. Following this
discovery, the Smiths sued MPT and its former shareholders
for breach of warranty of title. The result was a $250.22
jury verdict in the Smiths' favor. This appeal followed.
1987, the Smiths purchased two tracts of land from MPT. MPT
was an Arkansas corporation owned by Joe Benton, Russell
Benton (the Bentons), and Danny Snowden. On February 12,
1987, the Smiths agreed to purchase 130.22 acres of land from
MPT. They paid for the land over time and eventually obtained
a warranty deed to the land on April 22, 1993. On March 27,
1987, the Smiths purchased an additional 120 acres from MPT;
they paid for the land immediately and were given a warranty
deed to the land on that date. Neither deed contained a
reservation or exception of minerals.
to the execution of these warranty deeds, MPT conveyed the
minerals underlying both tracts of land to CenArk Oil and Gas
Company (CenArk). CenArk was also owned by the Bentons and
Danny Snowden. In 2008, the Smiths contracted to sell the
mineral rights to both tracts of land for $1,500 per acre. It
was at this time that the Smiths discovered the prior mineral
deed from MPT to CenArk. Because of the prior deed, the
Smiths were unable to effectuate their sale of the mineral
October 2010, the Smiths initiated this litigation against
MPT suing it for breach of warranty of title. MPT responded
by filing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6) arguing that the statute of limitations had expired
on the Smiths' claim. The circuit court denied MPT's
motion to dismiss finding that the breach occurred at the
time of constructive eviction and concluding that the statute
of limitations did not bar this action. During the pendency
of the litigation, the Smiths learned that MPT was a
dissolved corporation. Upon this discovery, they amended
their complaint to add the Bentons and the Estate of Danny
Snowden, the former shareholders of MPT, as
litigation progressed, the Smiths filed a motion to determine
the measure of damages applicable to their claim for breach
of warranty of title. The Smiths argued that their damages
should be based on the value of the minerals at the time of
constructive eviction, while the Bentons and the Estate of
Danny Snowden argued that damages should be based on the
value of the minerals at the time of conveyance but limited
to the ...