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Stalder v. Bucher

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Monroe

February 27, 2017

DAVID STALDER, ANO PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
JOHN R. BUCHER, et al. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio Case No. 2013-234

          For Plaintiffs-Appellees: Atty. Richard A. Yoss Atty. Ryan M. Regel Yoss Law Office.

          For Defendants-Appellants: Atty. Scott D. Eicicelberger Atty. William J. Taylor Atty. David J. Tarbert Atty. Ryan H. Linn Kincaid, Taylor & Geyer.

          Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Carol Ann Robb Judge.

          OPINION

          WAITE, J.

         {¶1} Appellants John R. Bucher, Jan Bucher Carmichael, Fred L. May, Dale L. Binkley, Elizabeth Miller, Michael Vreeland, Susan Leach Swisher, Henry Carter Castilow, Sharon Castilow, and Brian Castilow collectively appeal a June 16, 2014 decision of the Monroe County Common Pleas Court to grant summary judgment in favor of Appellees David and Sherrie Stalder ("the Stalders"). Appellants' brief has been filed on behalf of the Heirs of Godfrey Winkler ("Winkler Heirs"). John R. Bucher is a Winkler Heir. The Winkler Heirs argue that the trial court erroneously applied the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act ("DMA") in this oil and gas lease dispute. Even if the 1989 DMA applied, the Winkler Heirs argue that the trial court erroneously determined that unreleased oil and gas leases are not "title transactions." Pursuant to Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796, the 1989 DMA does not apply in this matter and the judgment of the trial court is reversed. Appellant's remaining arguments are moot. However, as the trial court resolved this matter in summary judgment and there are other issues still in dispute, the matter is remanded for consideration of those issues.

         Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} On February 21, 1946, Godfrey Winkler conveyed approximately 100 acres of land situated in Monroe County, Ohio to Anna S. Winkler. The deed contained the following reservation: "Excepting and reserving therefrom all oil and gas in and underlying said premises." (2/21/46 Deed, p. 2.) On September 13, 1950, Anna Winkler entered into an oil and gas lease with H.S. Shaffer, Jr. The lease was recorded on November 14, 1950. On February 24, 1956, the Winkler Heirs conveyed the property by quitclaim deed to Glenn and Juanita Stalder. The deed contained the following reservation:

But excepting and reserving, however, unto the grantors, their heirs and assigns, all of the oil, gas, coal and all other minerals of a similar or dissimilar nature on, within and underlying the above three tracts of land, together with all of the leasing and mining rights and privileges/belonging thereto.

         (2/24/56 Deed, p. 2.) On July 2, 2001, Glenn and Juanita Stalder deeded the property to Appellees David and Sherrie Stalder. The deed was recorded on July 6, 2001.

         {¶3} On May 15, 2013, the Stalders filed an affidavit pursuant to R.C. 5301.252 stating that the Winkler Heirs had abandoned their mineral interests in the property. The affidavit also asserted that the dormant mineral rights had vested in the Stalders because of the automatic and self-executing nature of the 1989 DMA. In response, the Winkler Heirs filed a claim to preserve their mineral interests pursuant to the 2006 DMA.

         {¶4} Subsequently, on May 28, 2013, the Stalders filed a quiet title and declaratory judgment action. The complaint alleged that the Winklers abandoned their mineral interests pursuant to the 1989 DMA. The complaint did not address the 2006 DMA. On April 30, 2014, the Stalders filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the dormant mineral interests in the property vested in them pursuant to the 1989 DMA, before the 2006 DMA took effect. In the alternative, they argued that the Winkler Heirs' interests were extinguished pursuant to the Marketable Title Act ("MTA"). The Winkler Heirs did not file a competing motion for summary judgment. On June 16, 2014, the trial court granted the Stalders' motion. The court found that the Winkler Heirs abandoned their rights under the 1989 DMA and did not address any other issue. This timely appeal followed.

         Summary Judgment

         {¶5} An appellate court conducts a de novo review of a trial court's decision to grant summary judgment using the same standards as the trial court, as set forth in Civ.R. 56(C). Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105, 671 N.E.2d 241 (1996). Before summary judgment can be granted, the trial court must determine that: (1) no genuine issue as to any material fact remains to be litigated, (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, (3) it appears from the evidence that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and viewing the evidence most favorably in favor of the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, the conclusion is adverse to that party. Temple v. Wean United, Inc.,50 Ohio St.2d 317, 327, 364 N.E.2d ...


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