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Gentile v. AcKerman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Monroe

March 6, 2017

ANTHONY M. GENTILE, et al. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
GEORGE ACKERMAN, et al. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio Case No. 2012-110

          For Plaintiffs-Appellees Attorney Craig Sweeney

          For Defendants-Appellants Attorney Gregory Brunton

          Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Carol Ann Robb JUDGES

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendants-Appellants, George Ackerman, et al., appeal the trial court's decision applying the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56, Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act, and granting judgment in favor of Plaintiff-Appellees, Anthony Gentile, et al.

         {¶2} It was error for the trial court to resolve this action by applying the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56 as the Ohio Supreme Court recently held 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. In 2012, Appellees filed an original and amended complaint pursuant to the Ohio Marketable Title Act, R.C. 5301.47-5301.55 and the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56, asserting that the DMA operated to have the severed oil and gas interests of Appellees deemed abandoned. Central to the parties' dispute was whether the 1989 or 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56 controlled resolution of the case.

         {¶4} After a procedurally complex path, on February 27, 2014, the trial court granted judgment in favor of Appellees; in doing so the trial court applied the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56 only, further finding that all "remaining arguments and positions [raised by the parties] to be moot." This appeal was stayed 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 controls.

         {¶5} 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 November 2, 2016, this case was returned to the active docket.

         {¶6} In their sole assignment of error, Appellants assert:

The trial court erred in granting appellees' motion for summary judgment and denying appellants' motion for summary judgment.

{¶7} In Corban the Ohio Supreme Court held the 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56 controlled, reasoning in pertinent part:

In accord with this analysis, we conclude that the 1989 law was not self-executing and did not automatically transfer ownership of dormant mineral rights by operation of law. Rather, a surface holder seeking to merge those rights with the surface estate under the 1989 law was required to commence a quiet title ...

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