Buckingham Scores a Win at the Supreme Court of Ohio in French Case

(Canton, OH, March 24, 2022) –Buckingham is pleased to announce that the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled by unanimous decision in favor of Buckingham’s clients on March 24, 2022, in the case of Michael P. French et al. v. Ascent Resources – Utica, LLC. Mr. French and the other Appellants in this case were represented by Buckingham Partners Joshua O’Farrell and Jude Streb. At oral argument and through briefing, Mr. O’Farrell effectively persuaded the Court that an action seeking a judicial declaration that an oil and gas lease expired by its own terms and operation of law constitutes a controversy involving title to or possession of real estate and was therefore not subject to mandatory arbitration under Ohio law. The Buckingham clients were parties to an oil and gas lease with Ascent Resources that would expire after a term of five years unless oil and gas production was obtained from the property or Ascent Resources had commenced operations prior to the lease’s expiration.


Our clients sought a declaration in the trial court that Ascent Resources failed to commence operations before the lease’s five-year primary term expired. In response, Ascent Resources filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration pursuant to the broad arbitration provision contained in the lease. The trial court denied Ascent Resource’s motion to compel arbitration, finding that our clients’ claim involved title to or
possession of real estate and was therefore not subject to mandatory arbitration under Ohio law, but
the Seventh District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. The Supreme Court of Ohio
accepted this case on a discretionary appeal and, after extensive briefing and oral argument, the
Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Seventh District’s decision and reinstated the decision of the
trial court—a huge win for our clients.


Jude Streb, Buckingham’s Litigation Practice Group Leader said, “As always, Josh was well-prepared,
articulate and persuasive, as demonstrated by the unanimous decision in favor of our clients on a highly-contested issue. With this outcome,” Streb continues, “Josh continues to demonstrate why he is one of
the leading oil and gas litigators in Ohio.”


About Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs:
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC is a corporate law firm that counsels middle-market executives
and business leaders all over Ohio and beyond. With offices in Akron, Canton and Cleveland,
Buckingham offers clients sophisticated and practical legal services. Serving the region for more than
100 years, Buckingham’s mission is to deliver meaningful experiences through the practice of law,
exceed expectations in terms of service, counsel and business sense, and to offer continuous value to
the industries, communities and clients they serve. For more information, news and updates, visit
bdblaw.com.

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