Lancaster v. Kathleen Oil Co.,
241 U.S. 551 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lancaster v. Kathleen Oil Co., 241 U.S. 551 (1916)

Lancaster v. Kathleen Oil Company

No. 336

Submitted April 26, 1916

Decided June 12, 1916

241 U.S. 551


As one not in possession may not maintain an action to quiet title, and as, in Oklahoma, one may not maintain a suit in ejectment as lessee under an oil or gas mining lease, an adequate remedy at law

Page 241 U. S. 552

does not exist in this case, and therefore equity has jurisdiction of a suit brought by the holder of an oil and gas lease on lands in Oklahoma to restrain those claiming under another lease from interfering with the property.

If such leases cover Indian allottee land and have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior, the case arises under the laws of the United States, and a federal court has jurisdiction.

A suit by one lessee against another, the prayer of the complaint in which is not only recovery of possession of the property, but also an injunction restraining defendant from asserting rights under his lease, cannot be regarded as a mere suit for ejectment, and if the bill clearly shows that both plaintiff and defendant claim under leases of Indian lands, the validity of which depends upon the construction of Acts of Congress and the effect of approval given by the Secretary of the Interior, the case is one arising under the laws of the United States of which the district court has jurisdiction.

In such a case, the statements of the bill can determine the jurisdiction of the district court, as they are not mere anticipatory statements of a possible defense to be set up by defendant.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district court of a suit involving the validity of gas and oil leases on lands of allottee Indians, are stated in the opinion.

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