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Seventh District Court of Appeals Reaffirms Fixed Look Back Period Under The 1989 Version of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act

12.17.14 written by

In Lipperman v. Batman and Albanese v. Batman, two related cases, the Seventh District Court of Appeals reviewed a decision from the Belmont County Court of Common Pleas that found a severed mineral interest holder preserved their rights under the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act, O.R.C. § 5301.56, by the recording of an affidavit evidencing the transfer of title in 1981 and the subsequent recording of an out-of-state will in 1989 which evidenced the death of the former holder in 1981. The Seventh District agreed the severed oil and gas interest was preserved, but under the theory that the relevant 20-year period was a fixed period from March 22, 1969, to March 22, 1989 (with a three-year grace period through March 22, 1992). 

The parties in Lipperman and the parties in Albanese agreed that the affidavit recorded in 1981 was a title transaction and that the same was a savings event. At issue with the trial court was whether the 1989 filing of an out-of-state will constituted a title transaction and thus preserved the previously severed interest. The trial court had agreed with the severed mineral holder that the recording of the will in 1989 to evidence the death of the former holder in 1981 was sufficient to preserve the interest for an additional twenty years (i.e., until 2009). As no claims were brought under the 2006 version of the Dormant Mineral Act, the trial court found the previously severed mineral interest was not reunited with the surface owner given the lack of any 20-year period without a relevant savings event. 

The Seventh District agreed with the result but disagreed with the analysis of the trial court, reaffirming its holding in Eisenbarth v. Reusser that the relevant look-back period under the Dormant Mineral Act is a fixed period, not a rolling 20-year period. The Seventh District found it unnecessary to opine as to whether the recording of the will in 1989 evidencing the death of a holder in 1981 alone was a title transaction, as the Court found the affidavit recorded in 1981 sufficient to preserve the previously severed oil and gas interest. A more thorough discussion of Eisenbarth v. Reusser may be found here

Lipperman, et al., v. Batman et al., 7th Dist. Belmont No. 14 BE 2, 2014-Ohio-5500 (Dec. 12, 2014) Albanese, et al., v. Batman et al., 7th Dist. Belmont No. 14 BE 22, 2014-Ohio-5517 (Dec. 12, 2014)

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.