The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted appeals in two cases involving Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act, O.R.C. § 5301.56: Eisenbarth v. Reusser, 2014-1767 and Dahlgren v. Brown Farm Properties, L.L.C., 2014-1655.
Eisenbarth concerns the look back period for the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (i.e., ‘fixed’ vs. ‘rolling’), and the issues accepted for appeal are:
1) “The 1989 DMA was prospective in nature and operated to have a severed oil and gas interest ‘deemed abandoned an vested in the owner of the surface’ if none of the savings events enumerated in ORC §5301.56(B) occurred in the twenty (20) year period immediately preceding any date in which the 1989 DMA was in effect,” and
2) “Assuming, arguendo, that the 1989 DMA operates on a ‘fixed’ twenty (20) year look-back period from the date of enactment, an oil and gas lease is not a ‘title transaction’ within the meaning of ORC §5301.47(F).”
Dahlgren raises two issues:
1) “The 2006 amendment of Ohio’s ‘dormant mineral’ statue was remedial in nature and intended to apply to facts occurring before its enactment. In suits filed after June 30, 2006 (the effective date of the amendment), courts should apply the new version of the statute, rather than the old version,” and
2) “Under the 1989 version of Ohio’s ‘dormant mineral’ statute, the twenty year dormancy period is measured from the date suit was commenced to determine title to the minerals.”
The Ohio Supreme Court will hold Dahlgren pending the outcomes in Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, two cases involving Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act previously accepted by the Ohio Supreme Court for review.
The Oil, Gas & Mineral Law team at KWGD will continue to closely monitor the cases pending before the Ohio Supreme Court. Additional analysis of the Dormant Mineral litigation, including the appellate court decisions in the above cases, may be found here.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
If you have any questions concerning this client alert, please contact Attorney Gregory W. Watts at 330-497-0700.