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.

[U] Lee v. Estate of Riemer

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

December 13, 2013

ALAN W. AND ROSEANN LEE, HUSBAND AND WIFE, Appellees
v.
ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS; ANDREW SMITH, INDIVIDUALLY, AND A.E.S. SPECIALIZED SERVICES, LLC APPEAL OF: ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; AND ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS Appellants ALAN W. AND ROSEANN LEE, HUSBAND AND WIFE, Appellees
v.
ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS; ANDREW SMITH, INDIVIDUALLY, AND A.E.S. SPECIALIZED SERVICES, LLC, APPEAL OF: ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS Appellants ALAN W. AND ROSEANN LEE, HUSBAND AND WIFE, Appellees
v.
ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS; ANDREW SMITH, INDIVIDUALLY, AND A.E.S. SPECIALIZED SERVICES, LLC APPEAL OF: JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER Appellants ALAN W. AND ROSEANN LEE, HUSBAND AND WIFE, Appellees
v.
ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS; ANDREW SMITH, INDIVIDUALLY, AND A.E.S. SPECIALIZED SERVICES, LLC APPEAL OF: ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER, D/B/A HERMAN RIEMER GAS COMPANY; JAMES HOWARD RIEMER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ANNA PEARL RIEMER; ROBERT W. SIEBERT, JR., D/B/A HARBOR VIEW OIL & GAS Appellants

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order entered February 29, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Division at No(s): A.D. 10-12020

Appeal from the Order entered October 5, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Division at No(s): A.D. 10-12020

Appeal from the Order entered December 7, 2011, in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Division at No(s): A.D. 10-12020

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., ALLEN, and COLVILLE, [*] JJ.

MEMORANDUM

ALLEN, J.

The Estate of Anna Pearl Riemer, [the Estate], d/b/a Herman Riemer Gas Company, James Howard Riemer, individually, ["Riemer"], and as executor of the Estate of Anna Pearl Riemer, Robert W. Siebert, Jr., d/b/a Harbor View Oil & Gas, ["Siebert"], (collectively "Appellants"), appeal from the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Alan and Roseann Lee, husband and wife, ("the Lees"), regarding the termination of a 1923 gas lease between the parties, and their predecessors, due to the non-production from a well, known as the Dawson Well, on the Lees' property. Appellants further appeal from the trial court's order denying Appellants' motion for partial summary judgment seeking to dismiss the Lees' nuisance claims against Riemer and Siebert. Appellants additionally appeal from the trial court's order requiring the Estate d/b/a Herman Riemer Gas Company and Riemer, as the Estate's executor, to plug the Dawson Well. Lastly, Appellants appeal from the trial court's order denying Appellants' motion to strike irrelevant and unduly prejudicial statements from the Lees' response to Appellants' motion for partial summary judgment. After careful consideration, we affirm.

The trial court recited the following facts and procedural history regarding this case:

This case arises from a Complaint to Quiet Title filed by [The Lees], on November 19, 2010. [The Lees] assert that they are owners of a parcel of land in Buffalo Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. A 1923 gas lease between [the Lees'] and [Appellants'] respective predecessors gives [Appellants] the right to enter on [the Lees'] property for purposes of producing oil and gas for "the term of ten years, (and so long thereafter as oil or gas shall be produced from the lands hereby leased)." [The Lees] assert that, in 1998, [Appellants] either voluntarily shut in the only existing well on [the Lees'] property, referred to by both parties as the "Dawson Well, " or that [Appellants] voluntarily closed off said well from the pipeline leading from [the Lees'] property. [The Lees] allege that the Dawson Well was shut in and not producing between February 1998 and May 2010. [The Lees] also assert that they have not been paid any royalties since February 1998. [The Lees] allege that the lease has expired by its own terms because [Appellants] have failed to produce gas or pay royalties for a period in excess of twelve years. On May 26, 2010, [the Lees] gave [Appellants] written notification that the lease was no longer valid. [The Lees] assert that, despite having such notification, [Appellants] entered upon [the Lees'] property the following day claiming that the lease remained valid. [The Lees] also assert that [Appellants] conducted earthmoving activities on [the Lees'] property in June 2010. Additionally, [the Lees] assert that the Dawson Well has been abandoned and that [Appellants] are statutorily required to have it plugged, which [Appellants] have not yet done. Based on these assertions, [the Lees] aver claims of Quiet Title, Trespass, and Public Nuisance.
On December 17, 2010, [Appellants] filed an Answer and New Matter to [the Lees'] Complaint in Quiet Title. [Appellants] admit that, in 1998, the Dawson Well was either shut in or disconnected from the pipeline running from [the Lees'] property. [Appellants] deny that the lease has expired, and they assert that gas could be produced from the well, which gas could then be marketed. In their New Matter, [Appellants] allege that Plaintiff, Alan Lee, has been difficult to deal with and that [the Lees] have impeded [Appellants'] access to the Dawson Well.
Finally, [Appellants] assert that the Dawson Well does not meet the statutory definition for abandonment because it has continued to produce gas from February 1998 to present, even though said gas could not be marketed. [The Lees] filed a Reply to [Appellants'] New Matter on January 6, 2011.
On May 26, 2011, [the Lees] filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to their claim for Quiet Title. [The Lees] assert that [Appellants] admit that the Dawson Well was shut in between February 1998 and May 2010. [The Lees] further assert that [Appellants] admit that they took no action to produce gas from the well during that time. [The Lees] also assert that [Appellants] admit to not having paid [the Lees] any royalties between February 1998 and May 2010. [The Lees] assert that the habendum clause of the lease provides that the lease will continue for "the term of ten years, (and so long thereafter as oil or gas shall be produced from the lands hereby leased)." [The Lees] argue that, since the secondary term of the lease expires when production ceases, the lease has terminated by its own terms, where [Appellants] have not operated the well, extracted or marketed any gas, and have not paid royalties to [the Lees] for a twelve-year period.
On June 23, 2011, [Appellants] filed a Response and New Matter to [the Lees'] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and a Brief in Support thereof. [Appellants] argue that there are at least two issues of material fact in this case. [The Lees'] interference with [Appellants'] contractual right of entry, and [Appellants'] attempts at production. [Appellants] allege that [the Lees] interfered with their right of entry, and, in their New Matter, [Appellants] raise the affirmative defense of frustration of purpose to [the Lees'] assertion of failure to produce. [Appellants] allege that they had difficulty dealing with Mr. Lee. [Appellants] also allege that [the Lees] put a gate across the access way leading to the Dawson Well. [Appellants] argue that [the Lees'] interference prevented [Appellants] from exercising their right to produce oil and gas, and they further argue that [the Lees] would wrongfully benefit from such improper actions if the lease is deemed terminated.
On September 20, 2011, [the Lees] filed an Amended Brief in Support of their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. [The Lees] again assert that it is undisputed that the Dawson Well was either shut-in or closed off from the gas line leading from [the Lees'] property in 1998.
[The Lees] assert that [Appellants] took such actions voluntarily. As such, [the Lees] argue that the legal effect of termination is clear in light of case law and the habendum clause of the lease. [The Lees] argue that [Appellants] have not produced any evidence to support their frustration defense. [The Lees] argue that the lease is terminated as a matter of law because the well has been shut in, or closed off, and in a state of nonproduction for more than a decade.
On October 13, 2011, [Appellants] filed an Amended Response to [the Lees'] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and an Amended Brief in Support thereof. [Appellants] again argue that there are issues of material fact as to the defenses of frustration of purpose and unclean hands, as well as to the question of [Appellants'] attempts to produce. [Appellants] assert that [the Lees] interfered with [Appellants'] right to enter [the Lees'] property, and they argue that Mr. Lee's testimony that he did not block [Appellants'] access directly conflicts with [Appellants'] affidavit of Jeffrey Riemer. Mr. Riemer's affidavit states that a cable across the access way blocked his entry to the Dawson Well when he attempted to make repairs to the well after the 1998 shut-in. [Appellants] argue that Mr. Lee admits that he put a gate, and later a cable, across the access way. [Appellants] further argue that such actions would clearly restrict access. [Appellants] also argue that their expert report shows that the Dawson Well continues to produce to this day. [Appellants] admit that they have been "unable to market gas" from the well for some time, but they argue that said inability to market gas does not mean the well is not producing. [Appellants] argue that the lease remains in effect because the well remains capable of producing gas.

Trial Court Opinion, 12/7/11, at 2-5.

On December 7, 2011, the trial court filed a memorandum opinion and a separate order determining that Appellants' leasehold interest in the Dawson Well had terminated due to the non-production from the well in paying quantities, which quieted title in the Lees' favor under Count I. On January 9, 2012, Appellants filed a motion for partial summary judgment to, inter alia, dismiss Count II of the Lees' action involving trespass, and to dismiss Riemer and Siebert from the Lees' public nuisance claim under Count III. On January 25, 2012, the Lees filed a praecipe to discontinue Count II and a response to Appellants' partial motion for summary judgment regarding Count III. On February 25, 2012, Appellants filed a motion to strike portions of the Lees' response to Appellants' motion for partial summary judgment. On February 29, 2012, after hearing arguments, the trial court filed separate orders which, inter alia: 1) concluded that Appellants' motion for partial summary judgment regarding Count II was rendered moot by the Lees' praecipe discontinuing the same; 2) denied dismissing Riemer and Siebert from Count III's public nuisance claims; and 3) denied striking language from the Lees' responsive pleadings. On August 27, 2012, the Lees moved for partial summary judgment regarding Count III to determine that the Dawson Well was a public nuisance that required plugging by Appellants. On September 26, 2012, Appellants responded to the Lees' partial motion for summary judgment and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment regarding the same count. On October 4, 2012, Appellants filed an additional motion for summary judgment to dismiss Siebert from Count III. On October 5, 2012, the trial court determined: 1) that the Dawson Well constituted a public nuisance under the Oil and Gas Act, §§ 3220 and 3252; and 2) that the Estate d/b/a Herman Riemer Gas Company, and Riemer, as the Estate's executor, were the owners of the Dawson Well and were required to plug the Dawson Well. The trial court further determined that there were material questions of fact regarding Riemer's individual liability, and denied the portions of the Lees' partial motion for summary judgment, and Appellants' cross motion for partial summary judgment, regarding Riemer's individual responsibility for the Dawson Well's public nuisance and its plugging. On October 19, 2012, with the consent of Appellants, the Lees filed a motion to discontinue Count III against Riemer and Siebert, which the trial court granted on October 23, 2012. This timely appeal followed. Appellants complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925. On January 10, 2013, the trial court issued four Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinions individually addressing the issues Appellants raise on appeal.

Appellants present the following issues for our review:

I. Did the trial court abuse its discretion or commit an error of law when it granted [the Lees'] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and held that Appellants' leasehold interest in the Dawson Well has terminated?
II. Did the trial court abuse its discretion or commit an error of law when it ordered James Howard Riemer, Executor of the Estate of Anna Pearl Riemer, and the Estate of Anna Pearl Riemer, d/b/a Herman Riemer Gas Company, to plug the Dawson Well without first requiring [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.