There is an ongoing question of whether or not the Ohio Marketable Titles Act (MTA), which impacts Utica shale rights, can be used to return previously severed mineral rights back to a surface landowner, or whether the MTA is superseded by Ohio Dormant Minerals Act (DMA). In February, Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals said the MTA *does* still apply to mineral rights (see OH Court Says Marketable Title Act Applies to O&G Rights). The Seventh Circuit recently ruled in a second case reaffirming yet again that yes, MTA applies to mineral rights.
The legal beagles at Vorys continue to track these important MTA/DMA cases. In this latest case, Stalder v. Bucher, the mineral rights owners argued that the MTA no longer applies to mineral rights because it has been superseded by the DMA. The court rejected that argument. However, because of a second/different argument, the court ultimately said the mineral rights owners are entitled to retain their rights–in this particular case. The mineral rights had not transferred back to the surface owners in this one instance.
The bottom line here, which is important for everyone–surface rights owners, mineral rights owners, and drillers who need to be sure they’re paying royalties to the right party–is that the MTA can be used by surface rights owners to regain possession of mineral rights. At least in some cases.
Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals recently held once again that fee oil and gas interests are subject to possible extinguishment under Ohio’s Marketable Title Act (MTA). See Stalder v. Bucher, 2019-Ohio-936. In Stalder, the mineral owners advanced two arguments against extinguishment. First, they claimed that the MTA no longer applies to mineral interests. In their view, Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (DMA) supersedes the MTA because it is the more specific statute as to terminating mineral interests. The Court rejected this argument. According to the Court, oil and gas interests are subject to both the MTA and DMA. Second, they maintained that an exception to extinguishment applied. The Court agreed and thus preserved the oil and gas interest in the mineral owners’ favor.*
*Vorys Energy & Environmental Law Blog (Apr 9, 2019) – Appellate Court Again Holds Ohio’s Marketable Title Act Applies to Fee Oil and Gas Interests
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