The Ohio Supreme Court has accepted appeals in two more cases involving Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act, O.R.C. § 5301.56: Farnsworth v. Burkhart, 2014—1909 and Tribett v. Shepherd, 2014—1966.
Farnsworth concerns the lookback period for the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (i.e., ‘fixed’ vs. ‘rolling’), and the effect of claims to preserve. The issues accepted for appeal are:
- The 1989 version of R.C. § 5301.56, the Ohio Dormant Minerals Act (“Former DMA”), was prospective in nature; division (B) applies to any 20-year period that elapses when the Former DMA was in effect, and
- A Claim to Preserve filed and recorded under division H(1)(a) of the current version of R.C. § 5301.56 (“Current DMA”) does not have the same effect as a claim filed and recorded under division B(3)(e) of the Current DMA.
The Ohio Supreme Court will hold Farnsworth pending the outcomes in Eisenbarth v. Reusser, and Dodd v. Croskey, two cases involving Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act previously accepted by the Ohio Supreme Court for review.
Tribett concerns when the 1989 version of the DMA may be used by a surface owner and raises seven issues:
- The 2006 version of the DMA is the only version of the DMA to be applied after June 30, 2006 (the effective date of said statute) because the 1989 version of the DMA was not self-executing.
- To establish a mineral interest as ‘deemed abandoned’ under the 1989 version of the DMA, the surface owner must have taken some action to establish abandonment prior to June 30, 2006. In all cases where a surface owner failed to take such action, only the 2006 version of the DMA can be used to obtain relief.
- Interpreting the 1989 version of the DMA as “self-executing” violates the Ohio Constitution
- The 2006 version of the DMA is the only version of the DMA to be applied after June 30, 2006, the effective date of a said statute; and
- Interpreting the 1989 Version of the DMA as “self-executing” violates the Ohio Constitution.
- A severed oil and gas mineral interest is the ‘subject of’ any title transaction which specifically identifies the recorded document created by that interest by volume and page number.
- Irrespective of the savings events in R.C. 5301.53(B)(3), the limitations in R.C. 5301.49 can independently bar a claim under the DMA.
- If a court applies the 1989 version of the DMA in a lawsuit filed after June 30, 2006, the 20-year look-back period shall be calculated starting on the date a complaint is filed which first raises a claim under the 1989 version of the DMA.
- A claim brought under the 1989 version of the DMA must have been filed within 21 years of March 22, 1989 (or, at the very latest, March 22, 1992), or such claim is barred by the statute of limitations in R.C. 2305.04.
The Ohio Supreme Court will hold Tribett pending the outcome in Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, a case involving Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act previously accepted by the Ohio Supreme Court for review. Additional analysis of the Dormant Mineral Act litigation 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.