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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. CVH 2012-0120 Reversed and Remanded.

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

          For Defendants-Appellants: T. Owen Beetham Rupert Beetham

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

          OPINION

          ROBB, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant Thomas Mark Beetham appeals the April 30, 2014 decision of Harrison County Common Pleas Court granting summary judgment for 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 Appellant is one of the alleged mineral holders. Appellees attempted to have the mineral rights, which previously were severed, deemed abandoned and reunited with the surface estate. Appellees filed 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 Appellant abandoned his 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.

         {¶5} The parties claiming to be the holders of the mineral interest rights underlying that property can be divided into three groups: 1) Appellant; 2) Bedway Land, Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, and Eric Petroleum Corporation; and 3) McLaughlin Heirs. This appeal deals solely with the mineral interest rights Appellant claims to own. Separate appeals, 14 HA 11 and 14 HA 13 have been filed concerning McLaughlin Heirs; and Bedway Land, Chesapeake Exploration, and Eric Petroleum's claimed mineral interest rights.

         {¶6} Appellant asserts he acquired his interest in the minerals through intestate succession from Belle McLaughlin, Samuel K. McLaughlin and Hannah Lucretia McLaughlin Beetham. The mineral interests are claimed to have been derived from three different deeds executed in 1921.

         {¶7} In addition to claiming his interest was acquired through intestate succession, Appellant also claims his interest was preserved when his predecessor in interest, Thomas Beetham, recorded a notice of preservation with the Harrison County Recorder on October 13, 1976. Furthermore, Rupert N. Beetham filed an affidavit preserving minerals on March 10, 2011. Exhibit J to the Third Amended Complaint. This affidavit listed Appellant as a mineral owner. Exhibit J to the Third Amended Complaint. Appellant filed an "Affidavit Preserving Minerals" on October 28, 2011. Exhibit L to the Third Amended Complaint.

         {¶8} Thereafter, Appellees filed a Declaratory Judgment and Quiet Title complaint against the McLaughlin Heirs, Appellant, 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 Appellant, McLaughlin Heirs, and Bedway Lands' mineral interests abandoned and ...


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