Pursche v. Matanuska-Susina Borough

[PROPERTY LAW]

In Pursche v. Matanuska-Susitna Borough,[1] the supreme court held that land with a federal patent in its chain of title is properly under the subject matter jurisdiction of the superior court and is subject to local taxes.[2] Ray Pursche owned real property that was originally conveyed by a federal homestead patent.[3] When Pursche failed to pay property taxes, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough listed the property on its annual petition for foreclosure filed in superior court.[4] Pursche objected to the foreclosure, and the superior court granted summary judgment for the Borough.[5] On appeal, Pursche argued that the superior court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the property because federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over claims involving federal land patents.[6] The supreme court reasoned that a federal patent in the chain of title does not by itself give rise to federal jurisdiction and that once a federal land patent issues, the disputes surrounding the property are matters of local property law that are properly resolved in local courts.[7] As the state’s court of general jurisdiction, then, the superior court properly exercised authority over this parcel.[8] The supreme court also reasoned that property once owned by the federal government becomes subject to local taxes when it is conveyed to a private party.[9] Affirming the lower court’s grant of summary judgment for the Borough, the supreme court held that the superior court properly exercised jurisdiction over property with a federal patent in its chain of title.[10]

[1] 371 P.3d 251 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 252.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 253.

[7] Id. at 253-54.

[8] Id. at 254.

[9] Id. at 255.

[10] Id. at 252.

Pursche v. Matanuska-Susina Borough

[PROPERTY LAW]

In Pursche v. Matanuska-Susitna Borough,[1] the supreme court held that land with a federal patent in its chain of title is properly under the subject matter jurisdiction of the superior court and is subject to local taxes.[2] Ray Pursche owned real property that was originally conveyed by a federal homestead patent.[3] When Pursche failed to pay property taxes, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough listed the property on its annual petition for foreclosure filed in superior court.[4] Pursche objected to the foreclosure, and the superior court granted summary judgment for the Borough.[5] On appeal, Pursche argued that the superior court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the property because federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over claims involving federal land patents.[6] The supreme court reasoned that a federal patent in the chain of title does not by itself give rise to federal jurisdiction and that once a federal land patent issues, the disputes surrounding the property are matters of local property law that are properly resolved in local courts.[7] As the state’s court of general jurisdiction, then, the superior court properly exercised authority over this parcel.[8] The supreme court also reasoned that property once owned by the federal government becomes subject to local taxes when it is conveyed to a private party.[9] Affirming the lower court’s grant of summary judgment for the Borough, the supreme court held that the superior court properly exercised jurisdiction over property with a federal patent in its chain of title.[10]

[1] 371 P.3d 251 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 252.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 253.

[7] Id. at 253-54.

[8] Id. at 254.

[9] Id. at 255.

[10] Id. at 252.