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Myers v. Bedway Land and Minerals Co.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Harrison

March 30, 2017

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

         Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County, Ohio Case No. CVH 2012-0120 Affirmed in part, Reversed in part and Remanded.

          For Plaintiffs-Appellants/ Cross-Appellees Atty. James F. Mathews Atty. Robert J. Tscholl

          For Defendants-Appellees/ Cross-Appellants Atty. T. Owen Beetham Thomas A. Hill Clay K. Keller Alex Quay J. Jackson Kelly PLLC Michael Altvater BabstCalland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C.Matthew L. Fornshell Nicole R. Woods Sandra Zerrusen

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

          OPINION

          ROBB, P.J.

         {¶1} Plaintiffs-Appellants/Cross-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 appeal the April 30, 2014 decision of Harrison County Common Pleas Court granting summary judgment for Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Bedway Land and Mineral Company (Bedway Land), Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Chesapeake Exploration, LLC (Chesapeake), and Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Eric Petroleum (Eric Petroleum).

         {¶2} In this case, Appellants/Cross-Appellees are the surface owners and Appellees/Cross-Appellants are the alleged mineral holders. Appellants/Cross-Appellees attempted to have the mineral rights, which previously were severed, deemed abandoned and reunited with the surface estate. Appellants/Cross-Appellees attempted to use the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA) to accomplish that goal.

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

         Statement of the Facts and Case

         {¶4} Appellants/Cross-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) Appellees/Cross-Appellants, 2) McLaughlin Heirs, and 3) Mark Thomas Beetham. This appeal deals solely with the mineral interest rights the Appellees/Cross-Appellants claim to own. Separate appeals, 14 HA 11 and 14 HA 12, have been filed concerning McLaughlin Heirs and Mark Thomas Beetham's claimed mineral interest rights.

         {¶6} Appellee/Cross-Appellant Bedway Land purchased the mineral rights to a portion of the property at issue in 1984 from William Wehr, who had purchased it in 1966 from Kehota Mining Company. The 1984 deed reflecting the purchase was recorded on December 28, 1984. In 2005, Appellee/Cross-Appellant Bedway Land leased its mineral and gas rights to Mason Dixon Energy, Inc. Those rights eventually were assigned by lease to Appellee/Cross-Appellant Chesapeake in 2011 and to Appellee/Cross-Appellant Eric Petroleum in 2007.

         {¶7} Appellants/Cross-Appellees filed a Declaratory Judgment and Quiet Title complaint against the McLaughlin Heirs, Thomas Mark Beetham, and Appellees/Cross-Appellants. 12/17/12 Complaint; 5/16/13 First Amended Complaint; 1/3/14 Second Amended Complaint; 1/17/14 Third Amended Complaint. Appellants/Cross-Appellees sought to have the trial court declare the mineral interest rights in Appellants/Cross-Appellees' surface property deemed abandoned and the mineral rights reunited with the surface. The complaints sought relief under the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA), not under the 2006 version of the Act.

         {¶8} Appellees/Cross-Appellants filed answers. 2/13/14 Chesapeake's Answer to Complaint; 6/4/13 Chesapeake's Answer to First Amended Complaint; 6/13/13 Bedway Land's Answer to First Amended Complaint; 6/14/13 Eric Petroleum's Answer to First Amended Complaint; 12/12/13 Eric Petroleum's Amended Answer; 1/17/14 Bedway Land's Answer to Second Amended Complaint; 1/28/14 Bedway Land's Answer to Third Amended Complaint; 2/4/14 Chesapeake's Answer to Third Amended Complaint; 2/5/14 Eric Petroleum's Answer to Third Amended Complaint.

         {¶9} Thereafter, the parties filed their respective summary judgment motions and responses to summary judgment motions. 1/2/14 Bedway Land Summary Judgment Motion; 1/3/14 Chesapeake's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; 1/3/14 Eric Petroleum's Motion for Summary Judgment; 1/8/14 Bedway Land's Summary Judgment Motion; 3/12/14 Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Motion for Summary Judgment; 3/26/14 Bedway Land's Response to Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Motion for Summary Judgment; 3/26/14 Chesapeake's Response to Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Motion for Summary Judgment; 3/26/14 Eric Petroleum's Response to Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Motion for Summary Judgment; 3/26/14 Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Opposition to Defendants' Summary Judgment Motions; 4/1/14 Bedway Land's Reply in Support of Summary Judgment; 4/2/14 Appellants/Cross-Appellees' Reply; 4/2/14 Eric Petroleum's Reply; 4/2/14 Chesapeake's Reply; 4/21/14 Bedway Land's Reply. The parties' arguments concerned the application of the 1989 ODMA and whether it or the 2006 ODMA applied.

         {¶10} Upon review of the motions, the trial court granted summary judgment for Appellees/Cross-Appellants. 4/30/14 J.E. The trial court, solely applying the 1989 version of the ODMA, found there was no abandonment. 4/30/14 J.E.

         {¶11} Appellants/Cross-Appellees filed a timely appeal. Appellees/Cross-Appellants, individually, filed cross assignments of error.

         Appellee/Cross-Appellant Bedway Land's First Assignment of Error

         "The trial court erred in holding that both the 1989 and 2006 versions of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act were applicable to a mineral rights abandonment claim when the claim was not enforced until ...


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