Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Monroe
TIMOTHY L. WINLAND, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JOHN L. CHRISTMAN ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Ohio
Case No. 2016-080
Timothy Pettorini, Atty. J. Fraifogl, Atty. J. McNab, Roetzel
& Andress, LPA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Charles Bean, Thornburg & Bean, for
BEFORE: Gene Donofrio, Cheryl L. Waite, David A.
OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Defendants-appellants, John Christman, Katherine Haselberger,
and Charlotte McCoy, appeal from a Monroe County Common Pleas
Court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of
plaintiff-appellee, Timothy Winland, on his claim to quiet
title to certain oil and gas rights.
In 1994, appellee purchased 39.542 acres of land in Monroe
County (the Property). In 2000, an oil and gas developer
approached appellee about developing the oil and gas
underlying the Property. The developer informed appellee that
the oil and gas rights underlying the Property had previously
been reserved by three individuals through three deeds: Edith
Scarborough (by deed executed November 4, 1911); Bentley
Scarborough (by deed dated April 15, 1916); and Watson
Scarborough (by deed dated April 15, 1916).
Consequently, appellee retained an attorney to conduct a
title examination. He then filed a quiet title action (ODMA
lawsuit) against the three Scarboroughs seeking a declaration
that their interests were either abandoned pursuant to
Ohio's Dormant Mineral Act in effect at the time (the
1989 ODMA) or had been extinguished pursuant to
the Marketable Title Act. Because appellee was unable to
locate any of the three Scarboroughs or their heirs or
assigns, he served them by publication in the local
No one responded to the publication. Hence, on February 22,
2001, the trial court issued a judgment declaring that the
three named Scarboroughs' previously-reserved interests
were abandoned and had vested in appellee, or in the
alternative were extinguished (the 2001 Judgment). The court
quieted title to the oil and gas (including royalties)
underlying the Property against any claims by the three named
Scarboroughs, their heirs, or assigns.
In 2012, the developer informed appellee that the Property
might be subject to another reservation of a two-fifths
interest in the oil and gas underlying the Property in favor
of Harlan Scarborough and Maggie Fogle. Thus, appellee filed
another action to quiet title. He served Harlan and Maggie
and their heirs and successors by publication.
Appellants then came forward as the successors in interest,
but not as successors of Harlan and Maggie. Instead,
appellants claimed to be the successors in interest to Watson
and Bentley. They claimed a royalty interest in the
production of oil and gas from the Property.
Appellants traced their alleged interest back to 1884, when
the Property, along with other adjoining property
(collectively known as the Scarborough Tract), was conveyed
to William Scarborough. When William died in 1899, his
interest in the Scarborough Tract passed to five heirs in
equal parts. Those heirs were Maggie Fogle, Harlan
Scarborough, Edith Scarborough, Watson Scarborough, and
The Scarborough Tract was subsequently subject to several
On October 17, 1908, Harlan and Maggie conveyed their
two-fifths interest in the Scarborough Tract to John Umpleby
as the guardian of Watson and Bentley Scarborough. But Harlan
and Maggie reserved their right to the oil and gas underlying
the Scarborough Tract.
On November 4, 1911, Edith conveyed her one-fifth interest in
the Scarborough Tract to Umpleby as the guardian of Watson
and Bentley. Edith reserved her one-fifth share of all
royalties resulting from oil and gas production.
On February 28, 1916, Watson sued Bentley and his guardian,
seeking a sale of Bentley's interest in the Scarborough
Tract with the exception of the oil and gas rights. At that
time, Watson and Bentley each owned one-half of the surface
and a one-fifth interest in the oil and gas. Maggie, Harlan,
and Edith were not parties to the lawsuit even though Maggie
and Harlan still owned a one-fifth interest in the oil and
gas and Edith still owned a one-fifth royalty interest in the
oil and gas underlying the Scarborough Tract.
On April 15, 1916, the sheriff executed a sheriffs deed
conveying Bentley's and his guardian's interest to
Watson except for "all the oil and gas in and underlying
said premises, and also all rights and privileges now held by
the Pure Oil Company, by a certain oil and gas lease[.]"
Consequently, Bentley retained a one-fifth interest in the
oil and gas. Watson then owned the entire surface of the
Scarborough Tract and his one-fifth interest in the oil and
On April 15, 1916, Watson conveyed the Scarborough Tract to
A.H. Anderson, subject to the reservation of his interest in
the oil and gas.
On April 13, 1931, Bentley assigned his interest in the Pure
Oil Company lease to Watson for the term of the lease.
After Bentley's assignment, in 1931, title to the oil and
gas underlying the Scarborough Tract was owned as follows.
Maggie, Harlan, Watson, and Bentley each owned an undivided
interest in the oil and gas. And Edith owned a one-fifth
interest in royalties from the production of oil and gas.
On Mach 31, 1944, the Monroe County Common Pleas Court issued
a judgment confirming the forfeiture of certain oil and gas
royalty interests, including the interest of the Scarborough
Heirs for delinquent taxes. On July 13, 1944, pursuant to
that judgment entry, the Monroe County Auditor executed an
auditor's deed (the Auditor's Deed) conveying the
following one-eighth royalty interest to Nova Christman
(Christman Royalty Interest):
[T]he 1/8 or all the royalty in oil and gas in the name of
Scarborough Heirs, under 70.70 (acres), Range 6, Township 4,
Section 17 pt ne, former W.T. [sic] Scarborough Heirs farm
now in the name of Martin L. Devore, listed by the Pure Oil
Company. Any oil or gas lines to credit of same. Reservations
for oil and gas - Monroe County Deed Records, Volume 83,
Pages 542 and 543.
The Auditor's Deed refers to "Monroe County Records,
Volume 83, Pages 542 and 543." These references are to
the instruments that originally severed the above Christman
Royalty Interest. Volume 83, Page 542 reserved a one-fifth
interest for Bentley and Volume 83, Page 543 reserved a
one-fifth interest for Watson.
Nova Christman died on May 3, 1992. His estate did not issue
a certificate of transfer until March 26, 2007. All of
Nova's interest (the Christman Royalty Interest) passed
equally to his three heirs - the three appellants.
On April 12, 2013, after appellee's notice of publication
in the quiet title action against Maggie and Harlan,
appellants filed a preservation claim under the 2006 ODMA.
Appellants claimed a right to ...