Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Oil & Gas Shareholders Sean W. Moran and Gregory J. Krock filed a petition to appeal the Butler v. Charles Powers' Estate, et al. decision on behalf of John and Mary Butler in a case that is drawing increased interest from the natural gas industry.

In articles published by American Lawyer Media, the Associated Press and the Patriot-News, Moran and Krock explained the importance of the case and the need for careful consideration.

At the heart of the case the 1882 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, Dunham & Shortt v. Kilpatrick — the "Dunham Rule" — which limits the term 'minerals' to include only metallic substances like gold, silver, copper and iron — and not 'petroleum oils.'"

"Even if it was unintentional, the Superior Court did call into question, perhaps not intentionally, but inadvertently, call into question longstanding law on what the term 'mineral' means," Krock told the Associated Press. "But you have to realize the case is at an early stage."

"The case turns on the intent of the parties — what did they intend in 1881," Krock explained.

In the petition filing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Moran and Krock argued the Superior Court misinterpreted those intentions:

    [B]y instructing the trial court to disregard the intent of the parties altogether, in favor of scientific evidence as to whether the Marcellus shale is a 'mineral,' the Superior Court has turned nearly two centuries of well-established rules of contract interpretation on their heads," the petition argues. "Landowners and oil and gas companies alike have unquestionably relied upon Dunham and its progeny for decades as binding authority.
Moran explained the Superior Court's decision was procedural, but "uncertainty" created "can cause a little indigestion, even if it is a procedural issue," a sentiment Krock echoed.

"It really depends on what the trial court does before it has any sweeping ramifications," Krock said. "The Superior Court didn't really change anything substantively, but it raised serious questions.

"The law has been settled for a very long time," Moran concluded. "Our role is to get the Supreme Court to affirm that's the case."