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Ohio Appeals Court Decides Additional Dormant Mineral Act Issues

The Seventh District Court of Appeals decided two additional legal issues concerning application of the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) in Tribett v. Shepard. The two issues were whether application of the 1989 DMA in the lawsuit was barred by Ohio’s 21-year statute of limitations to recover title to real property and whether the 1989 DMA is constitutional. On the first issue, the Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the case was not commenced within 21 years of the enactment of the 1989 DMA on March 22, 1989. The Court reasoned that the lawsuit was not time-barred because the 1989 DMA contains a three-year savings clause, which is March 22, 1992. Twenty-one years from March 22, 1992 is March 22, 2013. Plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed in April of 2012 and was therefore not time-barred. In dicta, the court commented that the statute of limitations defense “may have merit” in lawsuits filed after March 22, 2013.

The Court also found that because the 1989 DMA contained a three-year savings clause, application of the statute is not an unconstitutional taking.