Justia Alaska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
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Gas producers that lease land from Alaska must pay royalties calculated on the value of the gas produced from the leased area. The royalty may be calculated in one of two methods: the “higher of” pricing or contract pricing. “Higher of” pricing is the default method of calculating royalties and is calculated using market data and the prices of other producers. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) usually does not calculate the royalty payments under “higher of” pricing until years after production. Under contract pricing, the lessee’s price at which it sells gas is used to determine the royalty payment. Appellant Marathon Oil requested contract pricing from 2008 onward and sought retroactive application of contract pricing for 2003-2008. The DNR approved contract pricing from 2008 onward but denied the retroactive application. The superior court affirmed the DNR’s decision. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Marathon argued that the statute that governs contract pricing permitted retroactive application of contract pricing. Upon review of the arguments and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court concluded that though the statute was ambiguous, it would defer to the DNR’s interpretation. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the superior court’s decision to uphold the DNR’s order. View "Marathon Oil Co. v. Dep't. of Natural Resources" on Justia Law

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Chilkoot Lumber Company, a commercial landlord (Chilkoot) and its tenant, Rainbow Glacier Seafood (Rainbow) resolved their lease dispute by settlement and entered the terms of the settlement on the record at trial. Rainbow did not follow through with its duties under the settlement agreement. After the time for performance by Rainbow had expired, Chilkoot moved the court to enforce the agreement. The superior court denied the motion to enforce. On reconsideration, the parties tentatively agreed to reinstate the settlement agreement with new deadlines for performance. When they could not agree on new deadlines, the superior court entered an order that enforced the settlement agreement as modified by Rainbow’s proposed deadlines. Chilkoot subsequently violated the order, and the superior court ordered it to pay $1,000 per day it violated the agreement. Chilkoot appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the superior court erred by imposing its own deadlines and sanctioning Chilkoot $1,000 per day. Upon review of the record, the Supreme Court reversed the superior court’s order. The Court held it was an error for the lower court to conclude that the parties had not reached a settlement agreement and to deny Chilkoot’s motion to enforce the agreement. Furthermore, the Court found that the court’s sanctions against Chilkoot were "coercive and remedial, rather than punitive." The Court reversed the superior court’s order and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Chilkoot Lumber Co. v. Rainbow Glacier Seafoods, Inc." on Justia Law