Home | Perspectives |Shale Energy Law Blog | Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Interpretation of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Interpretation of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court issued three written opinions interpreting the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (O.R.C. §5301.56) (the “ODMA”) and decided 10 related cases based upon its decisions set forth in the written opinions. Notably, in Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration L.L.C., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796), the Supreme Court held that the 1989 version of the ODMA (the “1989 Act”) did not automatically abandon oil, gas and mineral rights in favor of the surface owner. Instead, the Supreme Court interpreted the statute to require the surface owner to seek a judicial decree that the mineral rights were abandoned. The Court focused on the statutory phrase “shall be deemed abandoned and vested in the owner of the surface” in determining that the legislature intended the 1989 Act to serve as a method of terminating abandoned mineral rights through a quiet title action rather than automatically transferring the mineral interests to the surface owner by operation of law. Additionally, the Court held that payment of delay rentals under a lease does not constitute a “title transaction” under Ohio law since the payment of delay rentals are not filed or recorded in the country recorder’s office.

In Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, Exr., (Slip Opinion No 2016-Ohio-5793), the Ohio Supreme Court built upon its decision in Corban and held that, if a surface owner failed to quiet title under the 1989 Act prior to the enactment of the 2006 version of the ODMA (the “2006 Act”), then the 1989 Act is unavailable and the surface owner can only pursue a claim to abandon mineral interests under the 2006 Act.

Finally, in Albanese, Exr. v. Batman et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5814), the Ohio Supreme Court followed the rationale of Corban regarding the necessity of filing an action to quiet title under the 1989 Act prior to the enactment of the 2006 Act. The Court further held that under the 2006 Act mineral rights cannot be deemed abandoned if the owner of the minerals had not been served notice of the abandonment pursuant to the 2006 Act. The notice requirement is mandatory under the 2006 Act.

Citing to the above cases, the Supreme Court decided 10 additional cases consistent with the three written opinions. The 10 cases are listed below:

Carney et al. v. Shockley et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5824)
Dahlgren et al. v. Brown Farm Prop. L.L.C., et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5818)
Eisenbarth et al. v. Reusser et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5819)
Farnsworth et al. v. Burkhart et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5816)
Swartz v. Householder et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5817)
Shannon et al. v. Householder et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5817)
Taylor et al. v. Crosby et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5820)
Thompson et al. v. Custer et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5823)
Tribett v. Shepherd et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5821)
Wendt et al. v. Dickerson et al., (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5822)