Trumbull County lawsuit: A notary has to be present when signing a gas lease


WARREN, Ohio — A Trumbull County judge has ruled that three landowners are free to lease with another oil company after he determined all three leases involving separate tracts of land were invalid.

The landowners

Mae Baxter owns 72 acres of farmland in Kinsman, Ohio, and signed an oil and gas lease with Reserve Energy in 2008. Reserve Energy sold the lease to Chesapeake Exploration in 2012.

In 2013, Chesapeake Exploration sent a check to Baxter for the next five-year rental period. However, Baxter refused to accept it and never cashed the check.

A second landowner, Raymond Shaffer, owns 70 acres of farmland in Trumbull County. Shaffer signed an oil and gas lease with Anschutz Exploration in 2008. A notary was not present when the lease was signed. Anschutz sent a second round of money for the second five-year rental period, but Shaffer did not cash the check.

A third set of landowners, Richard and Ladda Love, own 49 acres. The Loves signed a lease with Anschutz in 2008, again with no notary present. The lease was then acquired by Chesapeake Exploration. The second five-year rental period arrived and a check was sent to the Loves, however they did not to cash the check.

Court case

In the consolidated case, the landowners asked the court to rule that the leases were invalid because each of them was signed without a notary present.

The court ruled the leases did not follow the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code because of the lack of a notary.
Judge Ronald Rice also ruled that the leases at issue were for an initial five-year term. At the conclusion of that five-year term, each landowners rejected the second deposit for the next five years, which meant they rejected the continuation of the invalid lease.

Rice ruled the initial leases were also null and void because they did not meet the Ohio Revised Code. The leases ended after the first five-year period for each respective lease and were therefore terminated.

Lawyers for the landowners expect the decision to be appealed to the appellate court or come up with a settlement for all involved. If the decision is not appealed, landowners are free to lease with whoever they so choose.

Farm and Dairy contacted Chesapeake Exploration for comment, but they refused.


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