Legal Updates

A Win for Landowner Rights in the Colorado Supreme Court

In a unanimous decision endorsing the position argued by Welborn counsel Joe Pierzchala and Sam Bacon, the Colorado Supreme Court held that landowners next to a road own the minerals under and through to the centerline of the road, unless the seller expressed a different intent in the conveyance. Colorado law has long recognized the “centerline presumption,” which infers an intent to convey the road interest even if unstated. This case, however, presented a novel question asking whether that presumption applied to the minerals beneath the road. Plaintiffs brought the case seeking to exploit the unsettled area of property law to create a windfall for parties that had previously subdivided property above mineral lands. Indeed, the advent of modern drilling technologies unlocked significant value in minerals below rights of way, and the plaintiffs sued hoping to recoup the royalties from those interests. More details on the case are found here:

Welborn attorneys were proud to successfully defend the case in the trial court, Court of Appeals, and Colorado Supreme Court. The unanimous opinion in Great Northern Properties LLLP v. Extraction Oil and Gas Inc. et al., 2022SC805, represents the culmination of years of briefing and argument securing the owner’s rights in new areas of Colorado property law. “We are thrilled with the final result securing this win for the owners of these property interests,” said Mr. Bacon. “Thanks to comprehensive legal research at the outset of the dispute, we developed and maintained a consistent theme of the case from the trial court to the Supreme Court.” Mr. Pierzchala added, “It was a privilege arguing this case, developing this novel area of the law, and most of all defending our client’s rights when the plaintiffs tried to take their property.” The entire opinion is available here: