Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Harrison
ROGER L. BLILE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
GUY J. STALEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.
Appeal from Court of Common Pleas of Harrison County, Ohio
Case No. CVH-2015-0108
Plaintiffs-Appellants Attorney David J. Wigham Attorney James
P. Burke Attorney Lucas K. Palmer Attorney J. Benjamin
Fraifogl Attorney Jason R. Ramsey.
Defendants-Appellees ESK ORI LLC, GDK ORI LLC, GWK ORI LLC,
JEM ORI LLC, KBK ORI LLC, RHDK Oil and Gas LLC Attorney
Giuseppe Ionno Attorney Nathan D. Vaughan.
Defendants-Appellees Guy J. Staley Norma Staley Attorney
Michael D. Dortch Attorney Justin M. Dortch.
Defendant-Appellee Ascent Resources, Utica, LLC Attorney
Daniel P. Craig Attorney Kevin L. Colosimo.
Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro, Judge.
Plaintiffs-appellants, Roger Blile, Peggy Blile, Blair
Heavilin, Carol Heavilin, Brent Heavilin, Melissa Heavilin,
Larry Talkington, Becky Dillman, Stephen Kidd, and Heather
Kidd, appeal from a Harrison County Common Pleas Court
judgment granting a motion to dismiss their complaint filed
by defendants-appellees, Ascent Resources-Utica, LLC
(Ascent), Guy and Norma Staley (the Staleys), and ESK ORI
LLC, GDK ORI LLC, GWK ORI LLC, JEM ORI LLC, KBK ORI LLC, AND
RHDK Oil & Gas LLC (collectively referred to as ESK).
On April 26, 1976, Guy and Norma Staley leased the oil and
gas rights underlying their 179-acre farm (the Staley Farm)
to the East Ohio Gas Company (the Staley Lease). The Staley
Lease was for an initial term of three years "and so
much longer thereafter either (1) as oil or gas or their
constituents shall be found on the premises in paying
quantities * * * or as the premises shall be operated by the
Lessee in the search for oil or gas, or (2) as gas shall be
injected, stored or held in storage, or removed into, in and
from any sands, strata or formation underlying the
premises." A single well was drilled and completed on
the Staley Farm on September 20, 1978.
On January 10, 1980, the Staleys conveyed the Staley Farm to
Bradley Knight by warranty deed (the Knight Deed). The Knight
Deed contained a mineral reservation (Staley Reservation)
EXCEPTING AND RESERVING to the Grantors, their heirs and
assigns the following minerals and mineral rights with
respect to all of the above described premises:
3) All oil and gas and any interests that the Grantors may
presently have in any existing oil and/or gas leases;
provided, however, Grantors covenant and agree that the
future oil and/or gas wells shall be located upon the surface
of said premises so as not to unreasonably interfere with any
agricultural uses of said premises. Further, Grantors
covenant and agree to assign to Grantee any right they may
presently have or hereafter acquire to receive natural gas
for domestic purposes in connection with any presently [sic]
or future gas well on said premises.
Appellants collectively now own approximately 164.79 acres of
the 179-acre Staley Farm. Ascent and ESK, in addition to the
Staleys' remaining interest, have acquired interests in
the Staley Lease through various assignments.
On September 23, 2015, appellants filed a complaint seeking a
declaration that the Staley Lease terminated by its express
terms due to a lack of production during the secondary term
of the lease and, as a result, those claiming an interest in
the oil and gas underlying the Staley Farm no longer
possessed any interest. Appellants further sought a
declaration that the Staley Reservation had terminated
because it was tied to any interests the Staleys presently
had in any existing oil and gas leases. Thus, appellants
sought to quiet title in the oil and gas underlying the