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Christy v. Haselberger

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Belmont

June 16, 2017

GREGORY J. CHRISTY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS/ CROSS-APPELLEES,
v.
KATHERINE HASELBERGER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES/ CROSS-APPELLANTS.

         Civil Appeal from Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio Case No. 2013-085

          JUDGMENT: Affirmed For Plaintiffs-Appellants Attorney James Huggins

          Attorney Kristopher Justice Attorney Daniel Corcoran For Defendants-Appellees Attorney Charles Bean

          JUDGES: Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro

          OPINION

          DONOFRIO, J.

         {¶1} Plaintiffs-appellants/cross-appellees, Gregory and Carol Christy, appeal from a Monroe County Common Pleas Court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees/cross-appellants, Katherine Haselberger, Charlotte McCoy, and John Christman (the Haselberger defendants), and determining that the Haselberger defendants are the owners of oil and gas rights underlying certain property in Monroe County.

         {¶2} On April 22, 1946, Nova and Dollie Christman conveyed a certain tract of property located in Summit Township, Monroe County to John Heft (the Property). The Reservation Deed reflected this transaction and provided:

But expressly excepting and reserving from the above conveyance all the oil, gas and their constituents, and also mineral rights, together with the exclusive right to mine, drill or operate for the same, including the complete and absolute leasing rights with the right to enter on said premises at any time for the purpose of developing, removing and mining oil, gas and their constituents, and also minerals. However, reasonable damages caused by drilling or moving equipment on or off said premises above described shall be paid to the owner or owners of the premises above described. (The oil and mining rights stipulated in this paragraph being reserved by former grantors.)

         {¶3} The Christies have owned the Property since August 11, 1994. Prior to the Christies' ownership, the Property was owned by Carol Christy's parents.

         {¶4} In 1989, Nova and Dollie Christman leased the oil and gas rights for all formations down to 4, 000 feet (the shallow rights) and reserved the rights to all formations below that depth (the deep rights). This was pursuant to the Christman-Gadd Lease.

         {¶5} The Haselberger defendants are the heirs of Nova and Dollie Christman.

         {¶6} On January 24, 2013, the Christies recorded an affidavit of abandonment regarding the oil and gas interest underlying the Property and stating that they, as the surface owners, were now the owners of the oil and gas interest.

         {¶7} On March 6, 2013, the Christies filed a complaint to quiet title and for declaratory judgment that, pursuant to the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA), they are the rightful owners of the deep rights in the oil and gas interest underlying the Property. The Haselberger defendants filed an answer and counterclaim seeking to quiet title in their favor.

         {¶8} The parties next filed competing motions ...


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