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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Ohio Dormant Mineral Act Case

By Jay Carr

Today, in its Order List, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari in Jon D. Walker, Jr. v. Patricia J. Shondrick-Nau, Executrix of the Estate of John R. Noon and Successor Trustee of the John R. Noon Trust. Walker involved interpretation and application of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (R.C. § 5301.56) (the "DMA"), and was most recently decided by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The Supreme Court of Ohio Decision

In 2012, Walker filed a complaint to have a dormant mineral interest declared abandoned pursuant to the 1989 version of the DMA (the "1989 DMA"). Prior to the filing of his complaint, certain lower courts in Ohio had held that the 1989 DMA automatically abandoned dormant mineral interests when the record revealed that none of the six "savings events" occurred from March 22, 1969 to March 22, 1992. In concluding that the dormant mineral interest was not abandoned, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that the 1989 DMA was not self-executing; instead, the 1989 DMA created only a conclusive presumption as to abandonment. The Court further held that the abandonment procedure set forth in the 2006 version of the DMA (the "2006 DMA") applies to all claims to abandon dormant mineral interests asserted after June 30, 2006. The Supreme Court of Ohio's decision in Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., et al., was the basis for these holdings. Although Walker attempted to abandon the dormant mineral interest by complying with the abandonment procedure set forth in the 2006 DMA, the holder of the dormant mineral interest filed a claim to preserve in response. As such, the DMA did not operate to abandon the dormant mineral interest.

Appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States

Walker subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States. In his petition, Walker argued that the dormant mineral interest was abandoned and had vested in him on March 22, 1992, pursuant to the 1989 DMA. Walker still contended that the 1989 DMA was self-executing citing Justice Pfeifer's dissenting opinion in Corban and the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Texaco v. Short. Texaco involved interpretation of Indiana's Dormant Mineral Interests Act, which Act was, in fact, self-executing in nature and held to pass constitutional muster. Moreover, Walker advanced the proposition that the 2006 DMA is to be applied prospectively only, and application of the 2006 DMA to an already abandoned and vested dormant mineral interest was a violation of due process. Today, the Court denied certiorari and Walker (and Corban) remains the law in Ohio.

Tags: Ohio, Dormant Mineral Act, DMA, Oil and Gas, Energy

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