By Michael T. Altvater
The Ohio Supreme Court will review a key question of state law concerning application of the Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”). In Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified the following questions to the Ohio Supreme Court for review:
(1) Does the 2006 version or the 1989 version of the DMA apply to claims asserted after 2006 alleging that the rights to oil, gas, and other minerals automatically vested in the surface land holder prior to the 2006 amendments as a result of abandonment?
(2) Is the payment of a delay rental during the primary term of an oil and gas lease a title transaction and “savings event” under the DMA?
The question of whether the 1989 or 2006 version of the DMA applies to current disputes concerning ownership of mineral rights has been the subject of numerous lawsuits throughout eastern Ohio. Trial courts have reached varying conclusions, but the Seventh District Court of Appeals recently ruled that the 1989 version is self-executing and can still be relied upon. A decision from the Ohio Supreme Court will presumably resolve this unsettled issue of law.
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