Reed Smith Client Alerts

After the Ohio Supreme Court’s September 15, 2016, decision in Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., 2016-Ohio-5796, held that the 1989 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act was not self-executing – meaning that the surface was not automatically merged with the severed mineral interests – many surface owners who would have benefitted from the opposite interpretation of the Act sought to challenge Corban. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio recently rejected one common type of challenge to Corban, and explained that there are no grounds to challenge the application of the Dormant Mineral Act on federal due process grounds.

Authors: Nicolle R. Snyder Bagnell Kevin C. Abbott Stefanie Lepore Burt

In a companion case, an unsuccessful petition for certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the Corban holding on federal constitutional grounds. Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, 2016-Ohio-5793, cert. denied, 2017 WL 160475 (U.S. Jan. 17, 2017) (No. 16-776).

In a number of cases pending at the time of the Corban decision, other surface owners have since raised the claim that the rights provided to surface owners in the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act were vested property rights protected by the United States Constitution, which the surface owners were unconstitutionally deprived of by the Corban decision. Specifically, they contended that the right to assert a presumption of ownership over the severed mineral interests constituted a constitutionally protected property right. On July 19, 2017, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio rejected that argument, adopting and affirming a Magistrate Judge’s Order that reasoned that surface owners neither acquired nor lost any vested property right under the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act. The District Court explained that there are no grounds to challenge the application of the Dormant Mineral Act on federal due process grounds. Village of Jewett v. North American Coal Royalty Company, et al., No. 2:14-cv-175, Dkt. Nos. 33, 39.

Client Alert 2017-174