Marion Energy, Inc. v. KFJ Ranch P'shipAnnotate this Case
Appellants, Marion Energy and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, leased and owned oil and gas deposits lying underneath property owned by the KFJ Ranch Partnership. In order to build a road to access those deposits, Appellants sought to condemn a portion of KFJ's land by relying upon a statute that permits the exercise of eminent domain for the construction of roads to facilitate the working of mineral deposits. The district court dismissed Appellants' condemnation action, concluding that the statute did not provide the authority to take land for roads to access oil and gas deposits. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal, holding that the phrase "mineral deposits" in the statute was ambiguous, and because all ambiguities in a statute purporting to grant the power of eminent domain are strictly construed against the condemning party, Appellants were not authorized by the statute to condemn KFJ's land.