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Myers v. Bedway Land and Minerals Co.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Harrison

March 29, 2017

ROBERT B. MYERS, et al., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,
v.
BEDWAY LAND AND MINERALS COMPANY, et al., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County, Ohio Case No. CVH2012-0120 Reversed and Remanded.

          For Plaintiffs-Appellees: James F. Mathews Robert J. Tscholl

          For Defendants-Appellants: Rupert Beetham Clay K. Keller J. Alex Quay Michael Altvater Babst

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

          OPINION

          ROBB, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendants-Appellants LuAnn Vandemark, Sam Beetham, Jr., Rupert Beetham, III, Larry Beetham, Mary Beetham Bauer, Peggy Faber, Robert Brownell, Phoebe Beetham Wright, Ren Leftwich, Peggy McKissen, Amy Boyd Loratta, Nancy Beetham Eddy, Jane McLaughlin Romansky, Carol Ann M. Rasmussen, Pamela Harvey-Rath, Ruth McLaughlin Deundey, Nancy Lee Alderdice, Nels Brownell, Charles Brownell, Steven M. Harvey, Betsy Beetham Richards, and Robert Slater appeal the decision of Harrison County Common Pleas Court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs-Appellees Robert B. Myers, Rhoda L. Myers, Jodee Myers, Bruce Myers, Sherrilyn Vantassel, Albert Wright, Jr. (trustee), Scott Myers, Janet Myers, Thomas F. Stanwick, Billie J. Stanwick, James Richardson, John P. Lamb, and Donna R. Lamb.

         {¶2} Appellees are the surface owners and Appellants (McLaughlin Heirs) are the alleged mineral holders. Appellees attempted to have the mineral rights, which previously were severed, deemed abandoned and reunited with the surface estate. Appellees brought suit under the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA) to accomplish that goal. The trial court granted summary judgment for Appellees and found under the 1989 ODMA Appellants abandoned their mineral rights interests and those interests automatically vested with the surface owners, Appellees.

         {¶3} For the reasons expressed below, the trial court's decision is reversed and remanded.

         Statement of the Facts and Case

         {¶4} Appellees are the surface owners of approximately 631.0384 acres in Shortcreek Township in Harrison County, Ohio. These land owners bought the surface at various times between 2004 and 2011. All the deeds contained oil, gas and coal reservations.

         {¶5} The parties claiming to be the holders of the mineral interest rights underlying that property can be divided into three groups: 1) Appellants; 2) Bedway Land, Chesapeake Exploration, and Eric Petroleum; and 3) Mark Thomas Beetham. This appeal deals solely with the mineral interest rights Appellants claim to own. Separate appeals, 14 HA 12 and 14 HA 13, have been filed concerning Mark Thomas Beetham and Bedway Land, Chesapeake Exploration, and Eric Petroleum's claimed mineral interest rights.

         {¶6} Appellants assert they acquired their interest in the minerals through intestate succession from Belle McLaughlin, Samuel K. McLaughlin, and Hannah Lucretia McLaughlin Beetham. Their mineral interests are claimed to have been derived from three different deeds executed in 1921.

         {¶7} In an attempt to have the minerals interests deemed abandoned, Appellees Robert and Rhoda Myers notified the heirs of Samuel McLaughlin and Belle McLaughlin by publication on April 2, 2011; Appellee Albert Wright notified the heirs by publication on May 14, 2011. Attachments to Defendants McLaughlin Heirs' Response to Plaintiff's Requests for Production of Documents. Defendant Lucretia Vandemark filed an "Affidavit Preserving Minerals" with the Harrison County Recorder's Office on May 4, 2011. Exhibit I to Third Amended Complaint. The affidavit asserted it was preserving Appellants' mineral interests. Appellees Robert and Rhoda Myers filed an affidavit of abandonment with the Harrison County Auditors Office on May 27, 2011; Appellee Wright filed his affidavit on June 3, 2011. Attachments to Defendants McLaughlin Heirs' Response to Plaintiff's Requests for Production of Documents.

         {¶8} Following the publication and filing of affidavits, Appellees filed a Declaratory Judgment and Quiet Title complaint against Appellants, Thomas Mark Beetham, Bedway Land, Chesapeake Exploration, and Eric Petroleum. 12/17/12 Complaint; 5/16/13 First Amended Complaint; 1/3/14 Second Amended Complaint; 1/17/14 Third Amended Complaint. Appellees sought to have the trial court declare Appellants Thomas Mark Beetham and Bedway Lands' mineral interests in Appellees' property abandoned and declare those ...


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