Cuprite Mine Partners v. Anderson

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Property Law
  • Date Filed: 12-31-2015
  • Case #: 13-16657
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. for the Court; Circuit Judge Fernandez and District Judge Morris
  • Full Text Opinion

A trial in suit for partition by sale required by Arizona law is procedural and therefore a federal court in diversity is required to follow federal procedural rules.

Guy Anderson owned sixteen mining claims in Arizona which he bequeathed to his six children upon his death. In 1975, each child received an undivided one-sixth interest in each claim. Five of the children sought to sell their interests to the owner of an adjacent copper mine, Freeport-McMoRan Morenci (Freeport). The five children formed Cuprite Mine Partners (together Cuprite) and filed a partition action against the one child, John Anderson, who did not want to sell. John granted his interests in part to his children (together the Andersons). Cuprite amended its complaint to add John’s children as defendants and sought partition by sale. The Andersons moved to dismiss and the district court denied. Cuprite filed a motion for summary judgment which the district granted. The district court appointed a commissioner over the sale and imposed a sixty-day waiting period on the sale to allow interested parties to submit an offer. At the end of the waiting period, Freeport was the only party to submit an offer. The district court approved the sale and the Andersons appealed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit decided whether partition by sale was more appropriate than partition in kind. The panel held that a trial in suit for partition by sale required by Arizona law is procedural and therefore a federal court in diversity is required to follow federal procedural rules. The panel further held that because the outcome would have been the same if a trial had been held, there was no genuine issue of material fact and summary judgment granting partition by sale was appropriate. AFFIRMED.

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