Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Appeals of Two Cases Concerning Ohio Dormant Mineral Act

By: Alexandra K. McCluskey, Esq.

On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted two appeals concerning interpretation of the Ohio Dormant Minerals Act (“ODMA”): Dahlgren v. Brown Farm Properties, LLC, and Eisenbarth v. Reusser.

Dahlgren is held pending decisions in Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. v. Buell (scheduled for oral argument May 6, 2015) and Walker v. Shondrick-Nau (scheduled for oral argument June 23, 2015).

Dahlgren and Eisenbarth both come out of Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals. Both cases were appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court in the fall of 2014.

The issues for consideration on appeal are as follows:

Dahlgren

  • Whether the 2006 amendment of the ODMA was remedial in nature and intended to apply to facts occurring before its enactment, and
  • Whether, under the 1989 version of the ODMA, the 20-year dormancy period is measured from the date suit was commenced to determine title to the minerals.

Eisenbarth

  • Whether the 1989 ODMA was prospective in nature and operated to have a severed oil and gas interest “deemed abandoned and vested in the owner of the surface” if none of the savings events enumerated in ORC §5301.56(B) occurred in the 20-year period immediately preceding any date in which the 1989 DMA was in effect, and
  • Whether, assuming arguendo, that the 1989 DMA operates on a “fixed” 20-year look-back period from the date of enactment, an oil and gas lease is not a “title transaction” within the meaning of ORC §5301.47(F) and Appellees’ interest has nonetheless been abandoned.

Decisions in both cases will impact the ownership of mineral rights and by extension, the validity of numerous oil and gas leases in Ohio’s oil and gas producing counties.  Stay tuned—Leech Tishman’s Energy Practice Group continues to monitor the status of pending case law concerning the ODMA.

Alexandra McCluskey is an associate in the Energy Practice Group in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office. If you would like more information on the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act, please contact Alexandra at amccluskey@leechtisman.com.  Learn more about Leech Tishman’s Energy Practice Group here.

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