More and more transactions that we’re handling all over Ohio involve properties that have been owned by an entity or by a family for decades. A good portion of those transactions have long-standing title issues and/or survey issues that need to be cleaned up prior to closing.
In a recent Supreme Court of Ohio Decision involving surface owners and mineral interest owners, the Supreme Court of Ohio found both the Marketable Title Act and Dormant Minerals Act are applicable to severed mineral interests. See West v. Bode, 2020-Ohio-5473.
The Supreme Court of Ohio has once again provided further clarity as to mineral interests with respect to the Marketable Title Act and Dormant Minerals Act. Simply put, the Marketable Title Act generally extinguishes property interests prior to the root of title (generally the arms-length conveyance that is 40 or more years before the current exam). R.C. 5301.47. The Dormant Minerals Act, on the other hand, operates to abandon a mineral interest during a 20 year period, so long as certain other savings events have not occurred during that period. R.C. 5301.56.
In West, there was a 1902 conveyance of a portion of the mineral interests made to C.J Bode and George T. Nalley. Subsequently, the Wests obtained title to the surface rights in 2002 through a series of conveyances, and then filed a complaint under the Marketable Title Act against the unknown heirs and successors of Bode and Nalley. The successors-in-interest of Nalley intervened in the case and filed a counterclaim against the surface owners under the Dormant Minerals Act. The trial court ruled in favor of the successors of Nalley under the Dormant Minerals Act. On appeal, the Seventh District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case for determination under Ohio’s Marketable Title Act.
The Supreme Court of Ohio extensively evaluated both of the Marketable Title Act and the Dormant Minerals Act, including legislative history and historical and recent cases interpreting both. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Decision of the Seventh District Court of Appeals and held that mineral interests are simultaneously subject to both the Marketable Title Act and the Dormant Minerals Act.
To review the West case, click here.