JENNIFER POFF TALLEY, BARRY TALLEY, NATHAN L. POFF, JR., ROSE M. LEW, AND JOHN LAURENCE POFF APPELLANTS
CAROLYN PEEDIN, ET AL. APPELLEES
FROM THE CLEBURNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 12CV-12-141]
HONORABLE TIM WEAVER, JUDGE
Rock LLP, by: Jess Askew III and Samantha B. Leflar, for
Gammill & Gammill, by: Randall L. Gammill; Dunn, Nutter
& Morgan, LLP, by: Charles A. Morgan and M. Wade Kimmel;
Brian G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks;
and Maureen H. Harrod, for appellees.
M. GLOVER, Judge.
is a long history of litigation between appellants, who are
the children (Poff children) of Dr. Nathan Poff, Sr. (Dr.
Poff), and his first wife, Lou Veta Poff Moon (Lou Veta), and
appellees, Carolyn Poff Peedin (Carolyn), who was Dr.
Poff's second wife, and her current husband, Merlin
Peedin. This latest action involves contested mineral rights.
It originated when SEECO, Inc., filed a complaint for
interpleader and declaratory judgment to have the trial court
determine to whom SEECO should pay natural-gas production
royalties regarding designated property in Cleburne County.
All of the individuals and entities named by SEECO as having
a potential interest in the property are traceable to Dr.
Poff. One group consists of Dr. Poff's children with Lou
Veta (who now claim their ownership by inheritance from their
mother). The other group consists of Dr. Poff's second
wife, Carolyn, (who claims her interest by inheritance from
Dr. Poff), and her current husband, Merlin Peedin. We
dismissed an earlier appeal in this case on April 22, 2015,
concluding there was no final order. Talley v.
Peedin, 2015 Ark.App. 261.
April 4, 2016, the trial court entered an "Amended Final
Judgment, " which describes the property at issue as
The Court finds that the mineral interest at issue is located
in Section 12-T10N-R8W, Cleburne County, Arkansas, and is
particularly described as:
Tract 1: The North Half of the Northeast Quarter (N ½
NE ¼), Southeast Quarter of the Northwest Quarter (SE
¼ N.W. ¼), and the North Half of the Northwest
Quarter of the Northwest Quarter (N ½ N.W. ¼
N.W. ¼), containing 140 acres in the aggregate, more
Tract 2: The Northeast Quarter of the Northwest Quarter (NE
¼ N.W. ¼), containing 40 acres, more or less.
Tract 3: The South Half of the Northeast Quarter (S ½
NE ¼), containing 80 acres, more or less.
Tract 4: The South Half of the Northwest Quarter of the
Northwest Quarter (S ½ N.W. ¼ N.W. ¼),
and the North Half of the Southwest Quarter of the Northwest
Quarter (N ½ SW ¼ N.W. ¼), containing 40
acres in the aggregate, more or less.
The disputed mineral interests involve a one-fourth (1/4)
interest in Tracts 1, 2, and 3 and a three-sixteenth (3/16)
interest in Tract 4.
trial court found that ownership of the undivided one-fourth
(1/4) interest in the minerals underlying Tract 3 is held by
Carolyn; that ownership of the undivided one-fourth (1/4)
interest in the minerals underlying Tracts 1 and 2, as well
as the three-sixteenth (3/16) interest in the minerals
underlying Tract 4 are held by MAP2009-OK; that the lease
interests arising from Carolyn and her successors-in-interest
are valid, i.e., XTO Energy, Inc., holds an
undivided eighty-five percent (85%) leasehold interest in the
minerals in Tracts 1, 2, 3, and 4; that Shaw Farms, Inc.,
holds an undivided seven and one-half percent (7½%)
leasehold interest in the minerals in Tracts 1, 2, 3, and 4;
and that Boston Mountain Oil & Gas, LLC, has an undivided
seven and one-half percent (7½%) leasehold interest in
the minerals in Tracts 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a one hundred
percent (100%) wellbore reservation in the GreenBay Packaging
trial court further found that the Poff children have no
ownership interest in the subject minerals and that all
leases involving the subject minerals executed by the Poff
children in favor of Sedna Energy, Inc., and Chesapeake
Exploration, LLC, and the later assignments of those leases
to Barlow Projects, Inc., XTO Energy, Inc., and BHP Billiton
Petroleum (Fayetteville), LLC, are null and void. The trial
court incorporated by reference its amended findings of fact
and conclusions of law into the "Amended Final Judgment,
" which included the legal conclusions that the Poff
children were estopped from pursuing an ownership interest in
the subject mineral interests under the doctrines of res
judicata, collateral estoppel, judicial estoppel, and
equitable estoppel. Finally, the trial court awarded
attorney's fees and costs to Carolyn in the amount of $5,
000 plus postjudgment interest.
appeal followed, with the Poff children contending 1) the
trial court erred in not finding their mother owned half the
mineral rights at the time of her death; 2) they are not
estopped from claiming ownership of their mother's
mineral interests based on the previous lawsuit regarding
their father's interest in the mineral rights; and 3) the
attorney's fee award of $5, 000 should be reversed
because a justiciable controversy existed and there was no
finding or evidence of bad faith. We affirm.
Poff's marriage to Lou Veta took place in 1953. In 1971,
he acquired by warranty deed, in his name only, 100% of the
surface rights to the Cleburne County property that is in
dispute, along with one-half of the mineral interests in
Tracts 1, 2, and 3, and three-eighths of the mineral
interests in Tract 4.
October 9, 1973, Dr. Poff and Lou Veta conveyed the Cleburne
County property by form-type warranty deed to William Clyde
Glover. The deed provided in pertinent part
THAT we, Nathan L. Poff and Lou Veta Poff, his wife, for and
in consideration of the sum of . . . do hereby grant,
bargain, sell and convey unto said William Clyde Glover,
grantees, and unto his heirs, successors, and assigns
forever, the following ...