This Month’s Topic:
Calculations and Surface & Mineral Rights
While it’s been challenging for us all, we’ve made it to year-end. It feels like we should be sending congratulations wishes in addition to holiday wishes this year.
New Court Case Rulings
Ohio Supreme Court Ruling
In West v. Bode, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-5473, the Ohio Supreme Court held that using the Ohio Marketable Titles Act (MTA) was sufficient to extinguish all prior interests and claims that existed prior to the effective date of the root of title.
Facts: In 1996, Wayne West acquired about 68 acres of land in Monroe County from his family. In 2002, he transferred 5 acres to Rusty West. In 2017, Wayne and Rusty West filed a lawsuit in Monroe County Ohio seeking a declaratory judgment that any prior reservations of royalty interests, etc. had expired under the Ohio Marketable Title Act which provides that: A person with an unbroken chain of title of record to any interest in land for at least 40 years has a “marketable record title” to the interest.
In effect, this marketable record title “operates to extinguish” all interests and claims that existed prior to the effective date of the root of title and those pre-existing interests are declared null and void.
The heirs of the royalty interest owners argued that their interests were preserved under the Dormant Minerals Act (DMA) and the MTA was in conflict with the DMA.
The court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the two laws impacting whether mineral ownership had lapsed and allowing surface owners to regain ownership in the mineral estate were not in conflict and that the Ohio Marketable Title Act (MTA) and the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (DMA) provide separate procedures, either of which may be used by surface property owners to terminate claims of oil and natural gas rights, depending on the circumstances and the time that has elapsed.
Read more from the article by Court News Ohio.
Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals
In the Louisiana case of Litel Explorations, LLC. V. Aegis Development, Company LLC, a surface owner sued Mobil Oil Exploration & Production Southeast, Inc, Apache and BP American Production Company for property damage to his land occurring as a result of production prior to his ownership of the land.
Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that since the operations had ended and the oil and gas leases terminated prior to plaintiff taking ownership of the property, the right to sue for property damage is a personal right that belongs to the landowner who owned the property at the time the damage occurred, unless the right has been explicitly assigned or subrogated to the subsequent purchaser of the land.
Read more from the article by JDSUPRA.
Make 2021 Your Year for Learning
Professional Land Management & Division Order Certificate Courses
Module 4 of our Midland College Certificate Programs will begin on Tuesday, January 5. I hope you’ll take advantage of the New Year and kick-off your year with a goal to receive your certificate…oh, and to kick our 2020 COVID year to the curb.
Land professionals must have an in-depth understanding of surface and mineral laws and principles that affect drilling for oil and gas and how those principles are applied in various states. Our January PLM learning focuses on oil and gas law, including owner rights and covenants while the DO program focuses specifically on Division Order calculations.
I invite you to learn more about the programs and register today.