United States: Ohio Supreme Court Decides Dormant Mineral Act Cases

On September 15, 2016 the Ohio Supreme Court issued three opinions providing long-awaited clarity to Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act ("ODMA" or "Act"). Most notably, the court ruled that the 1989 ODMA did not automatically allow mineral interests to be deemed abandoned and vested in the surface owner. Instead, a surface owner seeking to merge a severed mineral interest with the surface under the 1989 Act was required to commence a quiet title action. Additionally, surface owners asserting claims after June 30, 2006 must follow the notice and recording procedures contained in the 2006 Amendment to the ODMA.

Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C.

In Corban, the surface owner argued that the severed mineral interest automatically vested in him under the 1989 ODMA before the 2006 amendments, and therefore the notice requirements do not apply to his claim. The severed mineral owner and its lessees, including Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., countered that the 2006 amendments to the ODMA should apply because they were in effect at the time the surface owner brought suit in 2013. The mineral interest owner and its lessees also argued that the payment of delay rentals restarted the 20-year abandonment period by precluding reversion of the mineral estate during the primary term of the lease, as it would be nonsensical to hold that a mineral owner has begun to abandon a mineral estate while collecting rent for that estate. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified two questions to the Supreme Court of Ohio, which agreed to hear both: (1) If the 2006 version or the 1989 version of the ODMA applies to claims asserted after 2006 alleging that the rights to oil, gas, and other minerals automatically vested in the surface landholder prior to the 2006 amendments as a result of abandonment, and (2) If the payment of a delay rental during the primary term of an oil and gas lease is a title transaction and "savings event" under the ODMA.

Reed Smith represented the oil and gas lessees, which prevailed in their argument that the 1989 ODMA did not automatically allow mineral interests to be deemed abandoned and vested in the surface owner, and that 2006 notice requirements apply to ODMA claims asserted after June 30, 2006.

Justice O'Donnell penned a plurality opinion holding that in enacting the 1989 law, and using the phrase "deemed abandoned and vested," the Ohio General Assembly created a "conclusive presumption" by establishing that a mineral rights holder had abandoned a severed mineral interest if the 20 year period passed without a saving event. The plurality opinion found that the statute remedied the difficulties faced by a surface owner seeking to quiet title to a dormant mineral interest, an action that at common law would have required proof that the mineral rights holder, who may not be locatable or identifiable from land records, had abandoned and relinquished that interest. However, because the conclusive presumption of abandonment was only an evidentiary device that applied to an action to quiet title to a dormant mineral interest, the ODMA did not automatically transfer the interest from the mineral rights holder to the surface owner by operation of law.

The plurality opinion found it apparent in analyzing the "sequential legislation" on the issue that the Ohio General Assembly did not intend title to dormant mineral interests to pass automatically and outside the record chain of title. Instead, a surface holder seeking to merge a severed mineral interest with the surface under the 1989 Act was required to commence a quiet title action. Turning its attention to the 2006 Amendment to the ODMA, the court found that the notice and recording requirements included in the amendment did not violate the Retroactivity Clause of the Ohio Constitution. The court held that the statute did not divest the surface holder of a right to abandoned mineral interests that accrued prior to the effective date of amendment, but rather, it modified only the method and procedure by which the right is recognized and protected. As a result, surface owners bringing claims after June 30, 2006 must follow the notice and recording procedures contained in the 2006 Amendment to the ODMA.

Finally, the Court unanimously held that a delay rental payment was not a title transaction or a saving event for purposes of the ODMA because it was not filed or recorded in the office of the county recorder.

Two justices joined in Justice O'Donnell's opinion with two additional justices concurring in the judgment on the first certified question and two justices dissenting as to that question. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Pfeifer accused the majority of "judicial modification under the guise of interpretation." All of the justices concurred in the opinion as to the second certified question.

Walker v. Shondrick-Nau

In Walker, the surface owner had initially attempted to use the notice provisions under the 2006 Amendments to the ODMA to declare the mineral interests under his property abandoned. When the mineral interest owner filed an affidavit to preserve the estate, the surface owner filed a quiet title action in 2012, asserting that under the 1989 ODMA, the mineral rights had merged with the surface when the grace period under the 1989 Act ended in 1992. Applying the holding of Corban, the Court held that that the 2006 Amendments applied to the surface owner's claim to the mineral rights. Under the 2006 Amendments, the mineral owner's claim to preserve his rights operated as a "saving event" sufficient to prevent the surface owner from declaring the mineral rights abandoned.

Albanese v. Batman

The primary issue in Albanese v. Batman was whether the filing of a will with the probate court and the county recorder's office was a saving event sufficient to prevent the subject mineral estate from being deemed abandoned under the 1989 Act. In applying Corban, the Court held that there was no automatic abandonment and vesting of the mineral interest in the surface owner under the 1989 Act. Because the surface owners had not followed the notice requirements under the 2006 Amendments, the mineral owners retained their interests.

Additional Cases

Applying the holding in Corban, the Court also decided Carney v. Shockley, Dahlgren v. Brown Farm Prop. LLC, Eisenbarth v. Reusser, Farnsworth v Burkhart, Swartz v. Householder, Shannon v. Householder, Taylor v. Crosby, Thompson v. Custer, Tribett v. Shepherd, and Wendt v. Dickerson.

This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
Gray Reed & McGraw LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
Gray Reed & McGraw LLP
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions