The Seventh District Court of Appeals Clarifies Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act

Attorney Michael J. Matasich provides the following case law update:

The Seventh District Court of Appeals recently decided Dodd v. Croskey, Case No. 12 HA 6, further clarifying the operation of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act, R.C. § 5301.56 (DMA).  First, the appellate court held that a mineral interest owner can preserve his or her interest by recording a claim to preserve the mineral interest within 60 days after the surface owner serves a notice of intent to declare the mineral interest abandoned.  This is true even if one of the “savings events” set out in the DMA did not occur during the 20 years immediately preceding the surface owner’s service of the notice.

Second, the court clarified what constitutes a “savings event” under the DMA.  The DMA provides numerous “savings events,” which operate to preserve severed mineral interests.  One such savings event is when the mineral interest is “the subject of a title transaction.”  There has been much debate and conflicting trial court decisions over what types of title transactions constitute such a savings event.  The Dodd court held that, for a mineral interest to be the “subject of” a title transaction, the grantor must have conveyed or retained the interest in the instrument at issue.  A deed or other instrument which merely references a prior reservation does not qualify as a savings event.

Finally, the Dodd court applied the 2006 version of the DMA, which affords more protection for mineral interest owners, rather than the 1989 version of the DMA, even though the pertinent facts of the case arose prior to the effective date of the 2006 version.  The court did not specifically address which version of the statute applies, but trial courts in Harrison, Monroe and Carroll Counties have since interpreted the Dodd decision as requiring that the 2006 version of the DMA be applied in all lawsuits filed after its effective date.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Matasich for more information.