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Sunburst Minerals, LLC v. Emerald Copper Corp.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 25, 2017

SUNBURST MINERALS, LLC, Plaintiff/Counterdefendant,
v.
EMERALD COPPER CORP., Defendant/Counterclaimant.

          ORDER AND OPINION [RE: MOTION AT DOCKET 52]

          JOHN W. SEDWICK, SENIOR JUDGE

         I. MOTION PRESENTED

         At docket 52 plaintiff and counterdefendant Sunburst Minerals, LLC (“Sunburst”) moves for partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Sunburst supports the motion with a separate statement of facts at docket 53. Defendant and counterclaimant Emerald Copper Corp. (“Emerald”) opposes the motion at docket 70, supported by controverting statement of facts and separate statement of additional facts at docket 71. Sunburst replies at docket 76 and supports its reply with a “supplemental statement of facts” at docket 78.[1] Oral argument was requested, but would not assist the court.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Sunburst's complaint refers to 53 unpatented lode claims and mill sites in Mohave County, Arizona, commonly known as “the Emerald Isle Mine, ” but identifies only the following 52:[2]

         Mill Sites:

1. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 1
2. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 2
3. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 3
4. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 4
5. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 5
6. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 6
7. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 7
8. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 8
9. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 10
10. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 11
11. Copper Hill Mill Site No. 12
12. Hermes Mill Site No. 13
13. Copper Hill Mill No. 1 Mill Site 14
14. Copper Hill Mill No. 1 Mill Site No. 15

         Lode Claims:

1. Copper Hill No. 2
2. Hermes
3. Hermes No. 2
4. Jimtown Copper No. 1
5. Valley Copper No. 1
6. Valley Copper No. 2
7. Valley Copper No. 3
8. FDR
9. Emerald No. 1
10. Emerald No. 2
11. Emerald 5
12. Emerald 6
13. Emerald 7
14. Emerald 8
15. Emerald 9
16. Emerald 10
17. Emerald 11
18. Emerald 12
19. Emerald 13
20. Emerald 14
21. Emerald 15
22. Emerald 16
23. Emerald 17
24. Emerald 18
25. Emerald 19
26. Emerald 20
27. Emerald #21
28. Emerald #22
29. Emerald #30
30. Emerald 31
31. Emerald #43
32. Emerald 44
33. Emerald #45
34. Emerald 2B
35. Emerald 3A
36. Emerald 4A
37. Emerald 40
38. Emerald 41

         Sunburst located these last five claims (claims 34-38) in June 2016.[3] Sunburst's motion does not seek summary judgment regarding these new claims; it seeks partial summary judgment regarding the remaining claims and mill sites, which were located on various dates between 1907 and 2004. All subsequent references to “Sunburst's claims” excludes the claims Sunburst located in 2016.

         In 2012, 2014, and 2016, Emerald located unpatented mining claims in the same general location as Sunburst's claims.[4] Sunburst brings this quiet title and trespass action against Emerald, alleging that Emerald's claims are invalid because they overlap with and are junior to Sunburst's valid claims. Emerald's counterclaim alleges that its claims were staked on open ground, and therefore asserts quiet title and trespass causes of action against Sunburst. The parties recognize that the fate of their competing trespass causes of action depends solely on the success of their respective quiet title actions.[5]

         III. ...


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