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July 30, 2020

Media contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued the following statement regarding the regarding the Supreme Court'S decision in Sorum, et al. v. State:

Today the North Dakota Supreme Court issued an important opinion upholding the constitutionality of legislation that sought to resolve numerous significant disputes over the ownership of minerals under Lake Sakakawea.  In doing so, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s holding that a majority of the law is constitutional, and reversed the district court’s holding that one section of the law was unconstitutional. The result upholds the constitutionality of the entire law.  The Supreme Court also reversed the district court’s decision awarding over $700,000 in attorney’s fees, costs, and a service award, to each of the individual Plaintiffs.  The Plaintiffs had originally sought over $60 Million from the State in attorneys’ fees, costs and service award.

“We expect this will resolve various disputes over mineral ownership under the lake, and mineral royalties that have been held in suspense by companies for years now can be distributed to their rightful owners,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

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