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Category Archives: Arkansas

Arkansas’s high court says an affidavit of lost mortgage is notice of nothing

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You can ignore an affidavit of lost mortgage in Arkansas. Is this news you can use?

Maybe not, but there’s still a lesson in Wetzel v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., a May 20, 2010 decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The lesson is Read the rest of this entry

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Reformation, or when may a court change a deed?


When Rocky Lawrence saw the rig move onto his property to drill a gas well, he checked his deed. Sure enough, nothing on the deed indicated that the seller of the property reserved the mineral rights.

Patsy Barnes saw the same drilling rig and went to Conway Title Company to make sure that she had reserved the mineral rights when she signed the deed conveying that property to Lawrence.   She was certain that the contract for sale stated that the mineral rights would not be conveyed to Lawrence.

Sarah at Conway Title had one of those awful moments, realizing that the reservation of mineral rights was not in the deed that Patsy signed, though the purchase contract stated that the mineral rights would be reserved to the seller. Sarah asked Lawrence to sign a correction deed, but he refused. Then Lawrence filed a quiet title suit, hoping to affirm that he and his wife owned the mineral rights and would receive royalties from natural gas produced from the well on their land.

People ought to be bound by what they sign, especially when it comes to real estate. Otherwise, what would be the point of putting the contract or deed in writing or reading a contract before signing it?

Mistakes are inevitable, and it would be unfair to allow someone to benefit from a mistake at the expense of another. Courts have developed the equitable remedy of reformation for the correction of mistakes and have also developed some strict rules for determining whether to reform a contract or a deed. Though the exact rules vary a bit from state to state, the basic rules are these: Read the rest of this entry

Why get a lawyer to help you sell a business?


In this interview for the New York Times’ online “You’re the Boss” feature, I give some of the reasons. Here’s the link: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/how-a-lawyer-can-help-you-sell-your-business/

Bentonville business broker Barbara Taylor interviewed me a couple of weeks ago.

Barbara is one of a dozen or so business people whose blogs appear in the Small Business Section of the online version of the New York Times. Jack Stack, of Springfield, Missouri, is the other Ozarks representative on the Times’ blogging roster.

Taking a fresh look at the history, politics and ecology of the rainbow trout fishing industry


This morning, I scanned the headlines of Arts and Letters Daily, and was jolted by this:

Behold the regal rainbow trout, dappled denizen of deep lake and rushing river, fierce hunter of fish and fly—and prize of pork-barrel politics, invigorator of men, eradicator of native species, payload of numerous bombing missions.

Intrigued, I followed links to the webpage of Anders Halverson, the author of these words, whose book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How One Fish Beguiled American and Overran the World, has recently been published by Yale University Press.

I have accepted rainbow trout fishing as simply a part of the world as I know it. I live a couple of blocks from Lake Taneycomo, where almost every day of the year I wake to the sounds of motors on the boats of trout anglers. While the Branson entertainment business ebbs and flows, the trout-fishing business in Branson seems to be evergreen, though it requires that tax and permit revenues be spent for propagating the trout, enforcing regulatons, and protecting the quality of the fishery. My own fishing license bears a trout stamp.

cover of An Entirely Synthetic Fish

As a child, I read Bill Potter’s annual accounts of the trout season’s March 1 opening day in the Joplin Globe, and the Missouri Conservationist’s articles about the Missouri Department of Conservation’s hatcheries and stocking programs for rainbow trout and the need to buy a trout stamp in addition to a fishing license to support these activities. School children in my home county were taken to the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, America’s oldest federal fish hatchery, it was said, for educational tours. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocked rainbows in Capps Creek, a short spring-fed tributary of Shoal Creek near my childhood home in eastern Newton County, Missouri.

Opening day at trout parks around the Ozarks, notably at Roaring River, Bennett Spring, Montauk and Meramec state parks in Missouri is a ritual for thousands. Shoulder to shoulder, in all kinds of weather, stouthearted anglers line the banks and tangle lines to catch newly-stocked rainbows and browns. Trout are stocked and pursued in various other cool rivers in the Ozarks, such as the White River below Beaver and Bull Shoals dams, the North Fork of of the White River, and the Current River. There are numerous private “trout farms” where trout are raised for sale to restaurants, some of which allow fishing. Trout fishing is economically important in the Ozarks.

Lately, I was aware that the Neosho fish hatchery was the beneficiary of a $1 million appropriation for a new visitors center and a solar water heater (to aid in the propagation of the pallid sturgeon) contained in the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A visitors center itself doesn’t hatch fish, but the construction of it helps the Neosho economy, creates a few permanent government jobs, and builds support for the program. The Neosho hatchery obtains rainbow trout eggs from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson and raises fingerlings which are transported back to Lake Taneycomo and other Missouri trout fisheries.

I guess I’ll read An Entirely Synthetic Fish and begin the uncomfortable process of reexamining something that I had accepted without much thought. I wonder where I’ll end up.

Bill sure knew how to revoke his will!


He marked “void” over each paragraph; wrote “bastard” and “get nothing” on the will; and applied Liquid Paper over the names of the beneficiaries. He later shredded the document in the presence of his insurance agents….

But that wasn’t enough for his former in-laws, who had a photocopy of the will that Bill shredded. They claimed Bill was under “insane delusions,” lacking the mental capacity to effectively revoke his will. If the will was still valid, the in-laws would divide up an estate worth over Read the rest of this entry

Business broker Barbara Taylor speaks out


Barbara Taylor and her husband Chris are the founders of Synergy Business Services, a business brokerage company.  She’s a regular blogger on “You’re the Boss,” a feature of the New York Times’s Small Business section, which is where I discovered her. Then I learned that she lives and works in Northwest Arkansas.

I posed several questions to her:

1.  At what stage-if at all–should you ask for a lawyer’s assistance in purchasing a business?

I see some clients – most of whom are sellers – get an attorney involved as soon as an offer to purchase is presented by a buyer, which is typically done in the form of a non-binding Letter of Intent or Term Sheet. However, I’d say it becomes mandatory to get attorneys involved as soon the LOI has been signed and both parties have moved into the Due Diligence phase of a deal.

More often than not it’s the buyer’s attorney who will be drafting the Definitive Agreement (either an Asset or Stock Purchase Agreement, depending on the situation). As a buyer, you will more than likely want your attorney to help you draft an LOI to present to the seller. Once an offer is accepted, ask your attorney to start drafting the Definitive Agreement right away.

If you’re a a seller, I recommend that you send the first draft of the Definitive Agreement to your attorney immediately, and keep him or her involved throughout the remainder of the ownership transfer process (from Due Diligence through Closing). In my opinion, no one should buy or sell a business without counsel from a qualified attorney and a CPA.

2.   How can you tell if a lawyer has the right temperament and skills to be helpful in a business transaction? Read the rest of this entry

Updated diversions: Ozarks drama and fiction


I’ve added a new feature called Ozarks on stage, with the first short bit about the play “Maid in the Ozarks,” which ran for 103 performances on Broadway in 1946, before and after thousands of performances in regional theatres around the country. Its playwright, a woman named Claire Parrish who was apparently an Ozarks native, is a mystery. Can you provide any clues about this person?

I would love to have an essay about the plays of Lanford Wilson, born in Lebanon, Missouri in 1937, who went to high school in Ozark, Missouri. He was a giant of Off Broadway in the 1960s and 1970s and won a Pulitzer for “Talley’s Folly,” one of the plays in the Talley Trilogy, which involved a family in Lebanon at the end of World War II and during the Vietnam War era.  He also wrote “Hot l Baltimore,” which was first a play before Norman Lear turned it into a TV sitcom that had a short run in 1975. If you have stories or thoughts about Wilson or his plays, please let me know.

If you know of other plays set in the Ozarks, please comment.

I’ve also been fleshing out the Ozarks in fiction compilation, with new info about Suzette Elgin Haden’s Ozarks Trilogy, Donald Westlake’s Baby, Would I Lie? and Edgar Hulse’s Light on the Lookout. I’ ve received several helpful suggestions which I’m working on integrating into the text. Please let me know about deserving books that should be mentioned here.

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