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In Butler v. Charles Powers Estate, the state Supreme Court unanimously overturned a state Superior Court ruling, which had remanded the case back to the trial court in order for experts to present evidence regarding whether shale and natural gas constitute minerals. The six-justice court decided there is no need for a scientific debate as to whether shale falls under the definition of “minerals” for purposes of deed reservations. The Butler family is represented by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Gregory J. Krock, Shareholder in the firm’s Litigation Section, told The Legal Intelligencer that the clients were “very pleased” with the ruling.

The justices did not expand the meaning of minerals in deed reservations, instead referring to the 1882 Supreme Court case Dunham and Shortt v. Kirkpatrick, which requires courts interpreting deed reservations to rely on a layperson’s understanding of mineral, rather than a scientific definition.

"People have been buying and operating for more than a century on the continued viability of the Dunham Rule," says Krock in Law360. "To change the rules would have caused a major disruption."

Read the full article – “Pa. Justices Rule Shale, Natural Gas Are Not Minerals” (The Legal Intelligencer, April 26, 2013)

Read the full article – “Pa. High Court's Gas Rights Ruling Will Protect Land Deals” (Law360, April 25, 2013)