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Williams v. Stillion

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Monroe

February 27, 2016

JON WILLIAMS, et al. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
RONNIE RAY STILLION, Trustee of the Charles R. Stillion Family Trust DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio Case No. 2013-273

          For Plaintiff-Appellee, Jon Williams, et al. Attorney Craig Sweeney Attorney Richard Yoss

          For Plaintiff-Appellee, State of Ohio ex re. Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine Attorney Gerald Dailey Attorney Jennifer Barrett Assistant Attorneys General

          Attorney Gerald Dailey Attorney Jennifer Barrett Assistant Attorneys General

          JUDGES: Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite.

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Ronnie Ray Stillion, Trustee of the Charles R. Stillion Trust, appeals the trial court's decision to apply the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56, Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act, thereby granting summary judgment and quieting title to the severed mineral interest in Plaintiffs-Appellees, Jon Williams, et al.

         {¶2} It was error for the trial court to resolve this action by applying the 1989 version of the DMA as the Ohio Supreme Court recently held that the 2006 version controls. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case remanded for the trial court to apply the 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56, pursuant to the Ohio Supreme Court's recent rulings regarding the DMA.

         {¶3} Appellees are the surface owners of certain real property in Monroe County. On June 28, 2013, Appellees filed a complaint alleging that the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56 operated to extinguish Stillion's severed mineral interests in that real property as of March 22, 1992.

         {¶4} Stillion filed an original and amended answer and counterclaim asserting that the trust was the present owner in fee simple of the mineral interest, and that the 1989 version violated Ohio's Constitution. The Ohio Attorney General intervened to defend the constitutionality of the statute and sought summary judgment on that basis. Appellees and Stillion filed cross-motions for summary judgment. One of the disputed issues was whether the 1989 or the 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56 controlled.

         {¶5} On July 1, 2014, the trial court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment and denied Stillion's; in so doing, it applied the 1989 version only, and further found it unnecessary to rule on the Attorney General's motion for summary judgment.

         {¶6} This appeal had been stayed on December 13, 2014 pending the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in multiple cases regarding, inter alia, whether the 1989 or the 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56, the ODMA, controls the resolution of disputed claims to severed minerals rights, where the claims were asserted after the effective date of the 2006 version.

         {¶7} In Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796 (Sept. 15, 2016), ¶ 2, the Court held "the 2006 version of the Dormant Mineral Act, which is codified at R.C. 5301.56, applies to all claims asserted after June 30, 2006[.]" On October 24, 2016, this case was returned to the active docket.

         {¶8} For clarity of analysis, Stillion's assignments of error will be addressed out of order. His second ...


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