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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lower Courts Await Ohio Supreme Court Rulings on Dormant Mineral Act

The Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA) has created a lot of headaches and legal battles over the past couple of years, and now those legal battles are beginning to back up in lower courts of the state while parties await decisions on several ODMA-related cases that are pending before the Ohio Supreme Court.

From Gas & Oil, here is a summary of the cases that have been picked up by the Supreme Court:
Dodd v. Croskey, Case Number 2013-1730
The Court is considering two propositions of law relating to the 1989 version of the ODMA: 1) does a notice of preservation filed by a severed mineral interest owner after a notice of abandonment is received from the surface ownercure a severed mineral interest holder’s past non-use of minerals or simply give the holder a right to contest the abandonment in future court proceedings, and, 2) does a transfer of the surface that specifically references the severed mineral interest qualify as a “title transaction” when the title to the minerals is not affected? 
Chesapeake v. Buell, Case Number 2014-0067 
The Court is considering two questions of law: 
Is a lease of the mineral rights (which has been recorded) a title transaction under the ODMA? 
Is the expiration of a recorded lease and the reversion of the rights granted under that lease a title transaction, even though the reversion itself is not recorded? 
Corban v. Chesapeake, Case Number 2014-0804 
The Court is considering two questions of law: 
Does the 2006 version or the 1989 version of the ODMA apply to claims asserted after 2006 alleging that the rights to oil, gas and other minerals automatically vested in the surface land prior to the 2006 amendments as a result of abandonment? 
Is the payment of a delay rental during the primary term of an oil and gas lease a title transaction and “savings event” under the ODMA? 
Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, (formerly Walker v. Noon), Case Number 2014-0803 
The Court is considering six propositions of law: 
Is the 2006 version of the ODMA the only version of the ODMA to be applied after June 30, 2006? 
Was a surface owner required to take some action to establish abandonment of minerals under the 1989 version of the ODMA prior to June 30, 2006, in order to for the minerals under their property to be “deemed abandoned” under the 1989 version? 
To the extent the 1989 version of the ODMA remains applicable, should the 20-year look back period be calculated starting on the date a complaint is filed which first raises a claim under the 1989 version of the ODMA? 
Does a transfer of the surface that specifically references the severed mineral interest, including the recorded document creating that interest, qualify as a “title transaction?" 
Can a statute of limitations, irrespective of the savings events in the ODMA, bar a claim under the ODMA? 
Does the 2006 version of the ODMA apply retroactively to severed mineral interests created prior to the effective date of the statute (June 30, 2006).
The lower courts will understandably hold off on issuing rulings in other ODMA cases that come before them, looking to avoid making a decision that will be invalidated shortly afterwards by a conflicting Supreme Court ruling.  So in the meantime, anxious landowners involved in these matters will have to exercise patience.

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