Energy & Natural Resources Alert: The Supreme Court of Ohio Defines of the Nature of Deed References Sufficient to Preserve an Interest under Ohio’s Marketable Title Act … and Hints that the Dormant Mineral Act May Trump the Marketable Title Act

Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a decision in the case Blackstone v. Moore, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-4959, concerning Ohio’s Marketable Title Act (O.R.C. §§ 5301.47 – 5301.55) (“MTA”) that – while explicitly narrow in its scope – served to resolve previous questions and ambiguities regarding the termination of oil and gas interests under the MTA.  Specifically, the Court described what type of deed references are sufficient to preserve interests from termination under the MTA.  However, almost as importantly, the Court hinted that following the enactment of the more specific Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) (enacted March 22, 1989), the … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: The Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals Becomes the First Ohio Court to Formally Adopt the Duhig Rule

In the final weeks of 2017, the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals in Talbot v. Ward, 7th Dist. Monroe No. 15-MO-0001, 2017-Ohio-9213 (December 18, 2017), became the first court in the State of Ohio to adopt the Duhig rule, which derives from a 1940 Texas Supreme Court case and applies to the interpretation of repeated oil and gas reservation clauses in warranty deeds.  In doing so, Ohio joined a select group of states, including Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. There were a myriad of issues addressed by the Court of Appeals in Talbot.  … Read More

Construction Services Group Alert: Mayor Peduto Issues Executive Order That May Result in Significant Changes to Pittsburgh’s Construction Industry

On July 26, 2017, William Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh (the “City”), issued a noteworthy executive order relating to the construction industry (the “Executive Order”).  This Executive Order may spur significant changes, in the very near future, regarding how construction projects with the City or its related entities/authorities are awarded and administered. The Executive Order may even result in changes affecting private projects performed within the City’s limits and publicly-assisted projects in the City. Although various rationales are referenced in it, the Executive Order appears to emphasize that its core purpose is to “ensure that construction work is … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: Pooling In West Virginia Does Not Require Consent of Non-Participating Royalty Interest Holders

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently held that the consent and ratification of non-participating royalty interest (“NPRI”) holders are not required for an operator to pool or unitize an oil and gas lease.  The holding in Gastar Exploration, Inc. v. Contraguerro, 800 S.E.2d 891, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, No. 16-0429, May 31, 2017, reversed a trial court ruling. Facts Gastar Exploration, Inc. (“Gastar”) acquired an oil and gas lease from PPG Industries, Inc. (the “PPG Lease”) covering 3,000+ acres of land in Marshall County.  The PPG Lease contained industry-standard provisions related to pooling, specifically … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: New Ohio Title Curative Law Enacted

The Ohio General Assembly and Governor John Kasich recently enacted Senate Bill No. 257, which is intended, among other things, to revise and modernize Ohio laws governing title to real property, specifically O.R.C. § 5301.07.  The new law, effective on April 6, 2017, creates a rebuttable presumption that a recorded real property instrument is valid, enforceable and effective, and reduces from twenty-one years to four years, the time period for curing certain defects in instruments such as deeds, mortgages and oil and gas leases.  Changes to Ohio Title Law The new law makes several changes to O.R.C. § 5301.07, but … Read More

Construction Services Group Alert: Superior Court of Pennsylvania Appears to Conclude that Notice of Intent to File a Mechanics’ Lien Claim Must Now Be Served by the Sheriff’s Office

It has been more than a dozen years since the Superior Court of Pennsylvania’s decision in Regency Investments, Inc. v. Inlander Ltd., 855 A.2d 75 (Pa. Super. 2004).  In that case, the court concluded “that service of a notice of filing of claim under Pennsylvania’s Mechanic’s Lien Law must be made ‘in person by the sheriff to the extent practicable.’”  Babich v. Buffalo Wild Wings, Slip. Op. No. 122 WDA 2016 (Pa. Super. Jan. 18, 2017) at p. 5, quoting, Regency Investments, 855 A.2d at 78. Focusing on that language, the Superior Court in Babich, through an opinion crafted by … Read More

Construction Services Group Alert: Builders Beware—Pennsylvania Superior Court Reaffirms That An Original Builder May Be Liable To Subsequent Remote Residential Purchasers For Construction Defects

No privity of contract, no problem.  That is precisely what the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently reaffirmed in Adams v. Hellings Builders, Inc., No. 1407 EDA 2015, 2016 WL 4522278 (Pa. Super Ct. Aug. 29, 2016), holding that the second owners of a home had viable claims for fraud and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. §§ 201-1 et seq. (“UTPCPL”) against the original home builder. In Hellings, Christopher and Margaret Adams purchased a residence from the Witsky family in 2011.  The home in question was originally constructed by Hellings and the Witskys … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: The Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Applicability of 1989 and 2006 Dormant Mineral Acts:

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on 14 Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (“ODMA”) cases, finally resolving some of the most significant legal questions regarding oil and gas development in the state.  The Court issued three opinions, with the remaining cases decided by reference to those decisions.  The most significant ODMA interpretation from the Ohio Supreme Court was issued in Corban v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5796, the first opinion published, in which the Court ruled that: (1) the 1989 ODMA did not provide for the automatic vesting of severed mineral interests, but instead required that a surface owner … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Confirms that the Doctrine of Estoppel by Deed Applies to Oil and Gas Leases

In Shedden v. Anadarko E. & P. Co., L.P., No. 103 MAP 2014, 2016 WL 1228867 (Pa. Mar. 29, 2016), the lessors brought an action against Anadarko, seeking a declaration that an oil and gas lease purporting to cover their 62-acre property only covered 31 acres.  The lessors’ claim was based on the fact that at the time the parties agreed to the lease, the lessor only owned a one-half interest in the oil and gas underlying the 62-acre property and accepted a bonus payment under the lease for 31 net acres.  However, prior to bringing this action, the lessors … Read More

Energy & Natural Resources Alert: Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals Further Defines the Terms “Paying Quantities” and “Operations” in Oil and Gas Leases

In Pottmeyer v. E. Ohio Gas Co., 4th Dist. Washington, 2016-Ohio-1294 (March 18, 2016), the landowners brought actions against the successors to the deep-rights-lessee, requesting that the court declare the oil and gas leases void because the secondary terms of the habendum clauses of the leases had expired. The successors to the deep-rights-lessee counterclaimed. The Fourth Appellate District of Ohio held: the landowners’ personal use of gas produced from the wells does not count towards the calculation of gas produced in paying quantities as required to maintain the leases; the sporadic and de minimus production of oil and gas from … Read More