Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Harrison
M&H PARTNERSHIP, et al. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
WALTER VANCE HINES, et al. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES
from the Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County, Ohio Case
Plaintiffs-Appellants Attorney Andrew Lycans Attorney Clint
Defendants-Appellees, Walter Hines, Richard Hines, Drue Hines
Danz, and David Hines Attorney T. Beetham
Defendant-Appellee, Chesapeake Exploration, LLC Attorney Clay
Attorney J. Quay Attorney Michael Alvater
Mary DeGenaro Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Carol Ann Robb
Plaintiffs-Appellants, M&H Partnership, William P. Ledger
and Judith A. Ledger appeal the decision of the trial court
granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants-Appellees,
Walter Vance Hines, Richard Scott Hines, Drue Anne Hines
Danz, and David Chris Hines in an action involving Ohio's
Dormant Mineral Act, R.C. 5301.56. As Appellants'
assignments of error are either meritless or moot, the
judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
and Procedural History
Appellants are the surface owners of real property in
Harrison County. The Hines Heirs claim to be the owners of
the severed mineral rights beneath that property. On April 9,
2011, at Appellants' request, the Harrison News Herald
published a notice of abandonment with regard to the mineral
rights, directed to Vance and Eleanor Hines, their heirs,
beneficiaries, next-of-kin, successors and assigns. The
notice asserted that the severed oil and gas rights had been
abandoned because none of the savings events listed in R.C.
5301.56 had occurred during the preceding 20 years.
On May 11, 2011, the Hines Heirs filed a document entitled
Affidavit Preserving Minerals with the Harrison County
Recorder. In that document, Richard Scott Hines recited when
Vance Hines, Eleanor Hines and Walter Vance Hines died, along
with the survivors of each. He identified the Hines Heirs as
the "current owners" of the severed mineral
interest. He did not identify any savings event that had
occurred within the 20 years immediately preceding the date
on which the notice of abandonment was published. He stated
that "the claimants herein do not intend to abandon
their rights in the mineral interest, but intend to preserve
On October 31, 2011, the Hines Heirs entered into an oil and
gas lease with Defendant-Appellee Chesapeake Exploration,
On June 5, 2012, Appellants filed a complaint against the
Hines Heirs and Chesapeake requesting quiet title relief and
seeking a declaration that any interest the Hines Heirs or
their predecessors owned in the property had been deemed
abandoned and vested in the surface owners prior to the
signing of the Chesapeake lease, which was therefore invalid.
Chesapeake filed an answer and the Hines Heirs filed an
answer and counterclaim for quiet title and declaratory
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the
disputed issues included: which version of R.C. 5301.56
applied, 1989 or 2006; whether the mineral interest was
preserved under the statute; and whether the Hines Heirs are
successors in interest to the individuals who severed and
reserved the mineral interest and had standing to challenge
the notice of abandonment.
After briefing on summary judgment had concluded, the Hines
Heirs filed a notice of supplemental filing, which included
the following documents: an affidavit of heirship; a
certificate of transfer issued by the Defiance County Probate
Court, demonstrating that Eleanor Hines died testate in 1966
at which time the mineral interest passed to her son, Walter
Hines; and a certificate of transfer issued by the Harrison
County Probate Court, demonstrating that Walter Hines died
testate in 2001 at which time the mineral interest passed to
his four children, the Hines heirs.
Two days later, the trial court had an oral hearing on the
summary judgment motions, which is included in the appellate
record. Appellants' counsel did not object to the timing
of the supplemental filing, nor did he argue that the trial
court could not consider the documents therein. Instead
counsel merely argued that the trial court should not give
the certificates of transfer much evidentiary weight.
The trial court analyzed the case under both the 1989 and
2006 versions of R.C. 5301.56 and concluded under either
version the Hines Heirs sufficiently preserved their severed
mineral interest. But the trial court ultimately held that
the 2006 version controlled. Therefore, the trial court
denied Appellants' motion for summary judgment and
granted the Hines Heirs' motion. 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.
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 19, 2016,
this case was returned to the active docket.
For clarity of analysis, we first turn to Appellants'
third, fourth, fifth, and sixth assignments ...