Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Harrison
VIKKI RICHARDS, et al. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
RALPH EUGENE HILLIGAS, et al. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County,
Ohio Case No. CVH 2011-0105
Lower Valley Farm, LLC: Atty. David E. Butz Atty. Gregory W.
Watts Atty. Matthew W. Onest Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths
& Dougherty Co., L.P.A.
Vikki Richards, et al.: Atty. Peter A. Lusenhop Atty. Gregory
D. Russell Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, LLP Atty.
Steven A. Chang Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, LLP
Ralph Hilligas, et al.: Atty. Mark Beetham
Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Mary DeGenaro
Appellant Lower Valley Farm, L.L.C. ("Lower
Valley") appeals the January 3, 2014 decision of the
Harrison County Common Pleas Court to deny its motion to
intervene. The motion to intervene stems from an action
regarding the ownership of mineral interests between
Co-Appellees Vikki Richards and Timothy Maloney and
Co-Appellees Ralph Eugene Hilligas, Beth Newberry Backus, Kay
J. Schlafer, Jill D. Dickerson, Wilma Matusik, Church
Builders Plus Inc., Anderson University, Church of God
Ministries Inc., and Park Place Church of God Inc.
(collectively referred to as "Appellees"). Lower
Valley argues that it should have been permitted to intervene
because it holds an interest in the minerals and no other
party to the underlying action can adequately protect that
interest. For the reasons that follow, Lower Valley's
arguments have merit and the judgment of the trial court is
reversed. The matter is remanded to the trial court with
instructions to grant Lower Valley's motion to intervene
in the underlying action.
and Procedural History
On February 1, 1923, George A. and Lorain Hilligas conveyed
the surface rights to property located in Shortcreek
Township, Harrison County to Kehota Mining Co. This appeal
concerns 83 acres of that property. The Hilligases reserved
the mineral interests in the land through the following
EXCEPTING AND RESERVING unto said Grantors, the heirs and
assigns, all the oil and gas within and under said above
described premises with the right of removing same, together
with all rights and privileges necessary for drilling and
operating on said premises for the purpose of removing and
marketing said oil and gas.
(2/1/1923 Deed.) The deed was recorded on May 29, 1923.
Sometime thereafter, Lorain Hilligas died and her one-half
interest transferred as follows: one-third to her surviving
husband, George; one-third to her son, Paul Hilligas; and
one-third to her daughter, Agnes Newberry.
On August 31, 1967, Paul died. His interest was transferred
to his surviving spouse, Co-Appellee Wilma Matusik. Agnes
died sometime thereafter and her interest was transferred to
her husband, Gene A. Newberry. On Gene's death, the
interest was transferred to the Hilligas heirs: Jill D.
Dickerson, Kay J. Schlafer, Beth Newberry Backus, Church
Builders Plus, Inc., Anderson University, Church of God
Ministries, Inc., and Park Place Church of God, Inc. Each
heir except for the religious institutions received a
one-eighth interest. The various religious institutions split
a one-eighth interest.
On July 25, 2001, Edward L. Seleski obtained the surface
rights to the property. This deed was recorded on August 20,
2001. On August 6, 2001, the Estate of Edward Seleski
transferred the surface rights to Michael H. and Cheryl A.
Wilt. Their deed was recorded on August 20, 2001. On December
11, 2001, the Estate of Edward Seleski recorded a deed which
transferred a one-half interest in the minerals to a group of
Seleski heirs. On the same date, the estate conveyed a
one-half interest to the remaining Seleski heirs in a
separate deed. The Wilts later conveyed the property to
Co-Appellees Richards and Maloney through three separate
deeds recorded May 26, 2006, July 20, 2005, and May 24, 2004.
The deeds included the Hilligas reservation and an apparent
reservation by the Seleski heirs.
On October 19, 2011, Richards and Maloney filed a complaint
seeking quiet title or, alternatively, partition against the
Hilligas heirs (Ralph Eugene Hilligas, Beth Newberry Backus,
Kay Schlafer, and Jill Dickerson). The trial court later
ordered Richards and Maloney to add the following Hilligas
heirs as codefendants: Wilma Matusik, Church Builders Plus
Inc., Anderson University, Church of God Ministries Inc., and
Park Place Church of God. On June 14, 2012, Richards and
Maloney filed an amended complaint to include ...