STATE v. LAMASCUS

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STATE v. LAMASCUS
1953 OK 339
263 P.2d 426
Case Number: 35182, 35184-35186
Decided: 11/17/1953
Supreme Court of Oklahoma

STATE ex rel. COM'RS OF LAND OFFICE v. LAMASCUS.
STATE ex rel. COM'RS OF LAND OFFICE v. VAUGHN et ux.
STATE ex rel. COM'RS OF LAND OFFICE v. YEARY et ux.
STATE ex rel. COM'RS OF LAND OFFICE v. SMITH et ux.

Syllabus

¶0 1. The Commissioners of the Land Office are authorized and empowered by statute to bring or defend suits in the name of and on behalf of the State of Oklahoma in all matters affecting their management and disposal of public lands of the State. Sec. 160, 64 O.S.1951.
2. The Commissioners of the Land Office are vested with full authority over the sale, rental, disposal, and managing of school lands and other public lands of the State and of the funds and proceeds derived therefrom under rules and regulations prescribed by the Legislature. Such authority grants to the Commissioners the discretionary power to sell at such time, on such terms and in such amount as will result in the greatest benefit to the common school fund. Sec. 32, art. VI of the Constitution of Oklahoma.
3. The Commissioners of the Land Office being vested with full power to sell may sell all or any interest in lands vested in them as trustee provided they reserve and retain for the State at least one-half of the minerals underlying such lands.
4. Sec. 32, art. VI, of the Oklahoma Constitution, creates the Commissioners of the Land Office and grants to them full power over the sale, rental, disposal, and management of school lands of the state, under rules and regulations prescribed by the Legislature. When all acts of the Legislature affecting the disposition or reservation of mineral interests in land sold are considered together, they vest in the Commissioners of the Land Office authority to retain and reserve for the state all minerals underlying land found or deemed by the Commissioners to be valuable for oil or gas. Otherwise, the per cent of the mineral rights reserved rests in the sound discretion of the Commissioners of the Land Office.
5. Where Commissioners of the Land Office offer land for sale and cause notice of sale to be published in the county where land is located, expressly stating that the purchaser will receive no interest whatsoever in the minerals underlying such land, and sale is so made, but Certificate of Purchase through clerical error reserves for the state only one-half of the minerals and patent issued later contains the same error and upon discovery of such error by the Commissioners of the Land Office they issue and have recorded a corrected certificate of purchase and corrected patent, it is error for the court, as a court of equity, to cancel the corrected certificate of purchase and patent, which speaks the true intent of the parties when sale contract was entered into.
6. The Commissioners of the Land Office are acting as trustees in their handling of school land and funds arising therefrom and under rules and regulations prescribed by the Legislature. One dealing with a trustee is charged with notice of the powers vested in the trustee and of the trustee's compliance or noncompliance with the rules and regulations so prescribed. One who purchases an equitable interest in school land without making inquiry as to the Commissioners' compliance with the terms of their trust is charged with notice of such defects and irregularities as exist in the proceedings of the trustee and cannot claim as a bona fide purchaser. The doctrine of bona fide purchaser applies only in favor of one who has acquired a legal title.
7. The principle of estoppel does not apply to unauthorized or ultra vires acts of state officials whether acting in a proprietary or governmental capacity.

Appeal from the District Court for Garvin County, Ben T. Williams, J.

R.H. Dunn, Rupert E. Wilson, Jr., Oklahoma City, for plaintiff in error.

Glen Ham and Garvin & Shumate, Pauls Valley, for defendant in error in Case No. 35182.

Cargill & Cargill, Oklahoma City, and Curtis & Blanton, Pauls Valley, for defendants in error in Cases Nos. 35184-35186.

HALLEY, C.J.

¶1 These are appeals by the State ex rel. Commissioners of the Land Office, hereinafter called Commissioners, from judgments of the District Court of Garvin County in favor of the various plaintiffs in the trial court, defendants in error here, and against the Commissioners, canceling correction certificates of purchase and correction patents and quieting title in the plaintiffs to various undivided interests in the minerals in lands, which had originally been acquired by the Commissioners by foreclosure proceedings and later sold by the Commissioners at public auction to the various defendants in error, or to their predecessors in title.

¶2 The notice of sale at public auction expressly provided that the purchasers would receive no interest whatsoever in the minerals. Only the surface rights were offered for sale. Through clerical error certificates of purchase and patents were issued reserving only 50 per cent of the minerals. Upon the discovery of this error, the Commissioners issued and caused to be recorded in Garvin County correction certificates of purchase and correction patents, providing, as did the notice of sale, that the purchaser of the land would receive no interest in the minerals whatsoever.

¶3 This action to quiet title by the various defendants in error resulted. Judgment canceling correction certificates of purchase and correction patents and quieting title to the mineral interests claimed by them was entered in favor of the various defendants in error. The Commissioners have appealed.

¶4 These appeals were filed prior to the decision by this Court in State ex rel. Commissioners of Land Office v. Duggins, Okl.Sup., 258 P.2d 891, and the case of State ex rel. Commissioners of Land Office v. Phillips Petroleum Co., Okl.Sup., 258 P.2d 1193. These cases involved the identical issues here presented and the opinions and syllabus in these cases are hereby adopted as the law in the present cases.

¶5 The judgments of the trial court canceling correction certificates of purchase and correction patents and quieting title in the various defendants in error are hereby reversed with instructions to enter judgment for the Commissioners quieting their title to the interests in the minerals claimed by the various defendants in error.

¶6 JOHNSON, V.C.J., and WELCH, DAVISON and BLACKBIRD, JJ., concur.

¶7 CORN, ARNOLD and O'NEAL, JJ., dissent.