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First National Bank of Oregon v. Townsend

Law Dictionary
CASE BRIEFS

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.27 Or. App. 103, 555 P.2d 477 (Ct. App. 1976)

Brief Fact Summary. In this case, a deed was found unrecorded in the grantee’s personal effects after the death of the grantee. The deed was recorded by the Plaintiff, Townshend (Plaintiff), the personal representative of the grantee’s estate. The grantor was also deceased and had no heirs. The State of Oregon was the interested party on the grantor’s behalf, due to escheat. The deed was titled, “Warranty Timber and Mineral Deed,” but was confusing as to what the deed intended to convey (whether a timber and mineral interest was to vest in the grantee or whether a fee simple interest was to vest in the grantee).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. When there is doubt as to whether the parties intended that a deed transfer a fee simple or a lesser interest in land that doubt should be resolved in favor of the grantee and the greater estate should pass.


Facts. In this case, a deed was found unrecorded, in the grantee’s personal effects after the death of the grantee. The deed was recorded by the Plaintiff, personal representative of the grantee’s estate. The grantor was also deceased and had no heirs. The State of Oregon was the interested party on the grantor’s behalf, due to escheat. The deed was titled, “Warranty Timber and Mineral Deed,” but was confusing as to what the deed intended to convey (whether a timber and mineral interest was to vest in the grantee or whether a fee simple interest was to vest in the grantee). The deed did contain language, which granted to the grantee the right to enter upon the land and cut timber and mine ores without interference from the grantor. The consideration was listed as $200 “paid on all Trees and Minerals removed from his property.” However, the grantee, his heirs and assigns, were to pay all taxes levied after the deed and the land was to be “in quiet, peaceable, and exclusive possession
of the [grantee, his heirs and assigns] against all persons lawfully claiming the whole or any part thereof,” which the grantor would warrant and defend against. The lower court construed the deed as granting a fee simple interest in the grantee, in favor of Plaintiff, the grantee’s personal representative. The State of Oregon appealed.

Issue. Did the deed convey a fee simple interest, or a limited interest in the timber and mining rights, with the fee simple interest retained by the grantor?

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