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Legal Update: Important legal clarity gained for Farm Bureau members

Ohio Farm Bureau staff continues to stay involved in legal issues that affect Farm Bureau members, especially as it involves property rights and the use of eminent domain throughout the state. Many of the cases OFBF has recently been involved with have resulted in settlement or dismissal before making it to the Ohio Supreme Court, a good result for the individuals litigating while still establishing key legal foundations for the future. Below is a round-up of recent decisions:

Case: Kinder Morgan v. PDB Farms, et al., Wood County

At Issue: Eminent domain concerning Kinder Morgan’s Utopia pipeline project.
FB Action: Filed an amicus brief supporting landowners in both trial and appellate courts.
Status: After landowners secured a trial court victory, the pipeline company dismissed its appeal.
Outcome: The Wood County trial court’s ruling that the pipeline was not for a public use and could not use the power of eminent domain was left in place. Precedent was set in Wood County.

Case: BC South LLC v. Hon. Judge Knece, Pickaway County

At Issue: Columbia Gas Co. had sought to acquire property from a Farm Bureau member‑family for a pipeline that will feed a tissue paper manufacturer locating in Pickaway County.
FB Action: Wrote a brief supporting the landowners who have argued that this is not a public use, a requirement for eminent domain in the appellate court, and a brief supporting a Writ of Prohibition, filed when the lower court judge attempted to move forward with the compensation, despite a pending appeal.
Status: The Ohio Supreme Court granted an immediate stay of proceedings while the writ is pending at the court.
Outcome: The stay granted by the Ohio Supreme Court was an important action to ensuring the landowner’s rights were respected in this process. The parties have since settled this litigation, resulting in a favorable outcome for the landowner.

Case: Schultheiss v. Heinrich Enterprises, Washington County

At Issue: An appellate court had ruled an oil and gas lease had expired due to lack of production and the acceptance of domestic gas did not extend the lease.
FB Action: Supported case with an amicus brief at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Status: Supreme Court ruled it shouldn’t have heard the case in the first place.
Outcome: The 4th District Court of Appeals decision, which found the lease did expire and the domestic gas production did not affect the lease’s status, stays in place. This important decision will be binding in an appellate district that has a significant amount of oil and gas litigation.

Case: Koprivec v. Rails to Trails, Wayne County

At Issue: Landowner claims to have gained legal ownership of an abandoned railroad corridor through his land under the legal theory of adverse possession.
FB Action: Filed an amicus brief in the successful appeal of this case at the lower level, where the court had ruled, in part, in favor of the landowner. Filed the same at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Status: Ohio Supreme Court has held oral arguments.
Outcome: Pending