BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE
TRUSTEES OF THE THOMAS E. PROCTOR HEIRS TRUST;
TRUSTEES OF THE MARGARET O.F. PROCTOR TRUST;
HOYT ROYALTY, LLC; AND THORNE HERITAGE RESOURCES, LLC
Hoyt Royalty weighed in with limited comments for this Philadelphia Inquirer piece that appeared in last Sunday’s paper. The article, by Andrew Maykuth, looks at the the Herder v Keller case and the issue of land and mineral (oil and gas) ownership rights in Pennsylvania.
While there is certainly more to be said, Mr. Maykuth did a nice job describing the history and the complex issues around this case. Here is the beginning of the article:
The Marcellus Shale natural gas discovery has triggered an associated boom in Pennsylvania land disputes, as formerly valueless mineral rights are now potentially worth millions.
The heirs of a Centre County landowner asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this month to resolve a case that stripped them of their 19th-century mineral rights, now claimed by a hunting club that bought the land in 1959.
The convoluted legal question affects the natural resources beneath huge expanses of timberland in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, which now accounts for nearly a quarter of the nation’s natural gas production.
“Although this case concerns a dispute over the ownership of oil and natural gas under roughly 433 acres of property, the questions presented potentially affect the mineral ownership rights of hundreds of thousands of acres of property located in this commonwealth,” Ronald L. Hicks, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represents the aggrieved heirs, wrote in an Aug. 8 Supreme Court filing.
The entire article can be seen here: Oil and Gas Mineral Rights in PA
Herder Spring Hunt Club v. Keller is a case currently pending before the Pennsylvania Superior Court that addresses whether tax sales can impact one’s title to subsurface oil and gas interests. The Kellers won this case in the trial court by showing that a 1935 tax sale did not “wash” their ancestors’ title to the severed subsurface interests because, among other things, the oil and gas interests were not accessed or taxable under Pennsylvania law.
As the oil and gas owners of severed estates, the Kellers have a number of similarities to Hoyt Royalty and Thorne Heritage Resources. Hoyt and Thorne have filed an Amicus brief in this case. That brief can be seen here: