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Vintilescu v. Schaffner

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Belmont

March 13, 2017

NICOLAE VINTILESCU, Trustee of the Vintilescu Family Trust, et al. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
DAVID K. SCHAFFNER, et al. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Belmont County, Ohio Case No. 13 CV 385

          For Plaintiffs-Appellees Attorney John Estadt Attorney Kyle Bickford

          For Defendants-Appellants Attorney David Schaffner

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

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendants-Appellants, David K. Schaffner, et al., appeal the trial court's decision to apply the 1989 version of R.C. 5301.56, Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act, and thereby granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs-Appellees, Nicolae Vintilescu, Trustee of the Vintilescu Family Trust, 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 trial court's judgment 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 Belmont County. On October 21, 2013, Appellees filed a complaint against Appellants for, inter alia, quiet title. Underlying their claims was Appellees' assertion that R.C. 5301.56 operated to extinguish Appellants' severed mineral interests in that real property. Appellants filed an answer and counterclaim. Appellees filed a Civ.R. 12(C) motion for judgment on the pleadings. One of the disputed issues was whether the 1989 or 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56 controlled.

         {¶4} On December 18, 2014, the trial court granted Appellees' motion for judgment on the pleadings; in doing so it applied the 1989 version only and dismissed Appellants' counterclaim. This appeal had been stayed on February 9, 2015 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 October 11, 2016, this case was returned to the active docket.

         {¶6} Appellants assert the following assignments of error:

The trial court erred in applying the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act to the subject case.
The trial court erred in determining that the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act "automatically" vested the mineral interest in the surface owners.

         {¶7} In Corban, the Ohio Supreme Court held the 2006 version of R.C. 5301.56 ...


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