The Seventh District Court of Appeals reaffirmed that claimants can use both Ohio’s Marketable Title Act (“MTA”) and Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) to extinguish and abandon, respectively, mineral interests. In West v. Bode, 2019-Ohio-4092, the appellant-surface owners attempted to extinguish a severed oil and gas royalty interest under the MTA. The holders of the royalty interest argued, in part, that the MTA did not extinguish the royalty interest because, as between the MTA and DMA, the DMA is the more specific statute with regard to terminating mineral interests and the DMA did not abandon the royalty interest. The Court rejected the royalty holders’ argument, as it had done in similar, prior cases. However, in its decision, the Court offered its strongest defense of the MTA to date. The Court explained that, pursuant to R.C. 1.51, it must construe conflicting, but interrelated, statutory provisions together so it can give effect to both. Only in the event that there is a conflict between the two provisions and the conflict is irreconcilable does the special provision prevail as an exception to the general provision, unless the general provision is the later adoption and the General Assembly manifested an intent that the general provision prevail. In this case, the Court did not find any irreconcilable conflict between the MTA and DMA. In fact, it noted the different look-back periods, savings events, and termination procedures under the two acts and found that each applies to a particular situation independent of the other. Thus, the MTA could apply to extinguish the severed royalty interest.
You can read the full decision here.