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Save Our Little Vermillion Env't v. Illinois Cement Co.

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20420
Nos. No. 3-99-0315, 725 N.E.2d 386/(Ill. App. Ct., 02/17/2000)

The court holds that although an environmental group possesses certain subsurface ownership rights to a property, a cement company that possesses the property's surface rights owns limestone on and under the surface of the property. When the original owner conveyed the property to the company's predecessor, he reserved the coal and other minerals underlying the property and the group later acquired a majority interest in these rights. The court first holds that the cement company owns the limestone on the property. The case must be decided on the language of the grant or reservation of mineral rights, the surrounding circumstances, and the intention of the grantor. In this case, there is no evidence of the original owner's intent beyond the language of the reservation of coal and other minerals. This reservation is ambiguous, and the surrounding circumstances do not resolve that ambiguity. However, under the doctrine of ejusdem generis, limestone is not in the same enumerated class as the coal identified in the original owner's reservation. Further, decisions of other jurisdictions have held that a grant or reservation of minerals does not include limestone. Moreover, any ambiguity in the deed should be interpreted in favor of the grantee, and the company is the successor to the original grantee's rights.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (4 pp., ELR Order No. L-185).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert M. Eschbach
Law Offices of Robert M. Eschbach
728 Columbus St., Ottawa IL 61350
(815) 434-1600

Counsel for Defendant
John S. Duncan III
Herbolsheimer, Lannon, Henson, Duncan & Reagan
State Bank Bldg.
654 First St., Ste. 400, La Salle IL 61301
(815) 223-0111