Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Carroll
THE THOMAS L. STEVENS AND THELMA T. STEVENS REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST DATED SEPTEMBER 3, 2013, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
RENEE R. KELLY, et al., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Carroll County, Ohio
Case No. 2013 CVH 27491
Plaintiff-Appellee: No Brief Filed.
Defendants-Appellants: Atty. E. Lee Wagoner
JUDGES: Hon. Carol Ann Robb, Hon. Gene Donofrio, Hon. Cheryl
Defendant-Appellant Renee Kelly appeals the decision of the
Carroll County Common Pleas Court granting summary judgment
for Plaintiff-Appellee Thomas L. & Thelma T. Stevens
Revocable Living Trust. This case involves the Ohio Dormant
Mineral Act (ODMA) and whether the oil, gas and other mineral
rights, excepting coal, underlying Appellee's property
were abandoned and deemed vested in the surface owner,
The trial court determined the 1989 version of the ODMA was
applicable, and found the oil, gas and other mineral rights
were abandoned and vested in the surface estate. Appellant
disagrees with that holding and argues the 2006 version of
the ODMA is applicable since Appellee's claim to quiet
title was asserted after the 2006 version became effective.
Based on the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in Corban
v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, __Ohio St.3d__,
2016-Ohio-5796, __N.E.3d__, Appellant's argument has
merit. The trial court's grant of summary judgment for
Appellee is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
of the Facts and Case
Appellee owns 120 acres of real property in Carroll County,
Ohio. In 1929, W.H. Hildreth sold approximately 158 acres in
Carroll County, Ohio, to Perry Q. and Goldie Maloney. In that
deed, W.H. Hildreth reserved 1/2 of all coal, oil, gas and
other mineral rights for approximately 133 of the 158 acres.
The coal rights were later sold. Appellee eventually
purchased 120 acres of the 158 acres. W.H. Hildreth's
reservation as to the oil, gas, and other mineral rights,
excluding the previously sold coal interest, was applicable
to the 120 acres Appellee acquired.
In 2013, Appellee filed a declaratory judgment/quiet title
complaint. Appellee contended the reserved oil, gas and other
mineral rights were never transferred or conveyed to any heir
or assignee of W.H. Hildreth. Likewise, it asserted for 83
years neither W.H. Hildreth nor his heirs or assigns utilized
the oil, gas or other mineral rights under the property. As
such, it asked the trial court to apply the 1989 version of
the ODMA and find there were no savings events within the
preceding 20 years of the effective date of the 1989 ODMA. In
finding as such, it asked the court to hold the oil, gas, and
other mineral rights reserved were abandoned and vested in
the surface on March 22, 1992. 4/1/13 Complaint.
In the complaint, Appellee acknowledged Appellant's
mother, acting through her power of attorney, filed a Claim
to Preserve on July 27, 2012. This claim stated, "Anita
M. Hildreth, as well as the other heirs of William Harrison
Hildreth, do not intend to abandon, but do intend to
preserve, their rights in the mineral interests described
above." Anita's Claim to Preserve. The claim
described W.H. Hildreth's reservation to the oil, gas and
other mineral rights, excluding coal, in the 133 acres sold
in 1929. Anita's Claim to Preserve. Anita asserted W.H.
Hildreth had six children and she is the holder of 1/6 of the
1/2 interest. Anita's Claim to Preserve. According to
Appellee, the Claim to Preserve did not save the oil, gas and
other mineral rights because the interests were abandoned and
automatically deemed vested on March 22, 1992. 4/1/2013
Following the filing of the complaint, Appellee did cause
notices of intent to declare abandonment to be published in
the local newspaper in Carroll County. 5/23/13 Invoice and
Affidavit of Publication.
Appellant filed an answer and counterclaim. In the answer,
Appellant explained W.H. Hildreth died in 1944; his wife
received 1/3 interest in his estate and each of six children
received 1/9 interest. Anita was married to Jesse Hildreth,
W.H. Hildreth's son. Jesse died in 1990 and Anita was his
sole beneficiary. Anita died in August 2012; Appellant was
her sole beneficiary. In the counterclaim, Appellant sought a
declaration that the Hildreth heirs retain a 1/2 interest in
the oil, gas, and other minerals, excluding coal, in the
subject parcel, and Appellant obtains a 1/6 interest in the
1/2 interest. 6/12/13 First Amended Answer and Counterclaim.
Appellee filed an answer to the counterclaim and moved for
default judgment against the remaining unknown heirs or
assigns of W.H. Hildreth. 7/3/13 Reply to Amended Answer and
Counterclaim; 8/8/13 Motion for Default Judgment. The trial
court granted a partial default ...