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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ohio Court Rules on DMA Due Diligence

From Vorys Energy & Environmental Law Blog:
Earlier this week, Ohio’s 7th District Court of Appeals again addressed the amount of diligence required to identify the holders of severed mineral interests under the 2006 version of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (2006 DMA). In Sharp v. Miller, 2018-Ohio-4740, the Court reaffirmed its earlier ruling in Shilts v. Beardmore that the 2006 DMA only requires a surface owner to exercise reasonable due diligence to ascertain the names and addresses of mineral holders prior to serving its notice of abandonment by publication. Further, the Court held that whether a surface owner’s actions constitute “reasonable due diligence” will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Thus, there is no right-line rule or definition of “reasonable due diligence.” Actions that may be reasonable in one case may not be reasonable in another case. 
In Sharp, the surface owners searched the local probate records and deed records, but their search failed to reveal the names of any heirs of the record mineral owners. Moreover, the only address the surface owners found in their search was a post office box that formerly belonged to one of the record mineral owners. Their search did produce a Release of Estate from Administration for one of the record mineral owners. However, that Release did not reference the subject mineral interest. A title report ordered by the surface owners also failed to reveal any potential heirs.
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