The Supreme Court of Ohio rendered three important decisions yesterday regarding the interpretation of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act, with significant implications for landowners and owners of mineral rights involving the Utica Shale.
The Dormant Mineral Act governs the ownership rights of minerals which have been severed from the surface. Originally enacted in 1989, the Dormant Mineral Act was amended in 2006 to establish conditions and procedures by which the ownership of mineral rights are preserved with the mineral holder or abandoned to the owner of the surface.
1. In Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L. L. C., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5814, the Court ruled that the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act was not self-executing and did not automatically transfer ownership of severed mineral rights by operation of law.
2. In Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5793, the Court, relying on its decision in Dodd v. Croskey, 143 Ohio St.3d 293, 2015-Ohio-2362, 37 N.E.3d 147, (which was argued successfully by McDonald Hopkins) held that under the 2006 amendments to the statute the severed mineral owner’s timely filed claim to preserve was sufficient to preclude the minerals from being deemed abandoned, thus vesting the rights with the mineral holder.
3. In Albanese v. Batman, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5814, citing Corban, the Court held that the 2006 version of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act applies to claims filed after June 30, 2006. The Court also ruled on 10 additional cases by entries that cite Corban and/or Walker.
These are significant rulings from the Supreme Court which finally resolve whether the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act was self-executing and automatically reunited severed mineral interests with the owner of the surface. Now that the Court has made it clear that the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act is not self-executing, there are significant implications for both severed mineral interest holders and surface owners.
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