Skip to Content

Fifth District Court of Appeals’ Opinion Upholds Automatic Operation of 1989 Dormant Mineral Act

10.20.14 written by

Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty oil and gas attorneys, David E. Butz and Matthew W. Onest, successfully represented a family seeking to affirm their ownership of valuable mineral rights, in a significant case in the Fifth District Court of Appeals, Wendt v. Dickersonet al., 2014–Ohio–4615. The decision impacts landowners and oil and gas producers throughout several counties in Ohio, including Stark, Guernsey, Tuscarawas, Morgan, and Wayne.

The significance of Wendt v. Dickerson, et al., 2014–Ohio–4615: 

Prior to this decision, the only appellate court in Ohio to confirm that the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (R.C. 5301.56 (in effect prior to June 30, 2006)) was self-executing, i.e. contained an automatic abandonment and vesting mechanism, was the Seventh District Court of Appeals.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals, in affirming the trial court’s decision, followed the holdings in Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, 2014-Ohio-1499 and Swartz v. Householder, 2014-Ohio-2359, and held that the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act automatically abandoned dormant, severed mineral interests and vested title to the same in the affected surface owners. 

Additionally, the Fifth District Court of Appeals held that the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act applied to the current litigation (meaning it applied to severed mineral interests which met the abandonment criteria prior to June 30, 2006) and not the amended version of the statute (amended in 2006).

The Fifth District Court of Appeals also held that the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act was constitutional. That portion of the decision relied upon the holding of Texaco v. Short, 454 U.S. 516, 102 S.Ct. 781 (1982), a United States Supreme Court case that reviewed Indiana’s dormant mineral statute, which is substantially similar to the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act.

Founded in 1958, Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., L.P.A. provides representation across various practice areas of the law: Oil, Gas & Mineral Law, Corporate and Business Law, Real Estate and Construction, Labor and Employment, Employee Benefits, Workers’ Compensation, Commercial Lending and Finance, Taxation, Health Care, Environmental Law, OSHA, Trusts and Estates, and Litigation in all areas. The Firm has over 50 attorneys with offices throughout Northeast Ohio, serving Canton, Akron, Alliance, New Philadelphia, and Sugarcreek. For more information visit