Coal and Minerals: Why a 1918 Deed Can Make All the Difference

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on March 10, 2014

Real estate law documents can be like the Ten Commandments: definitive, almost divine. Such deeds even going back to the beginning of time can be given the weight they hold since the initial drafting. Take this idea of mineral and coal rights, specifically between CNX Gas Company and Rasnake. This is extremely vital to commercial real estate law, because it involves some of the most precious materials in the real estate in question – coal and minerals.Moses

The question is this: who holds the rights to those materials? In a land so old that even Moses could’ve walked across it after parting the Red Sea? It would take an interested court and parties to deliberate and figure it all out, and, boy, did they. At first, 1887 was the year when Jacob and Marry Fuller actually conveyed the coal interests of their 414-acre tract to one Joseph Doran and W.A. Dick. As we go along the timeline for this specific real estate, the conveyance successor went to W.T. Fuller in 1918, conveying only a 75-acre portion of the tract to Unice Nuckles. This is where we see the present day for this case: the appellant, a lessee under the interests of the most recent conveyance toward Nuckles, asserted rights to the minerals, but not the coal. Are you still with me? Good. The argument arises as the appellees in the case also claimed those rights under the interest of W.T. Fuller. Now things are getting interesting. Remember the timeline?

This is how it all got decided: apparently, the circuit court deliberated and decided that the 1918 deed with Fuller did make exceptions for coal and minerals, therefore allowing appellees the right to the mineral estate. However, the Supreme Court reversed that opinion, stating that the 1918 deed – given the fact that it was conveyed to Nuckles and her following successors – had the rights to the mineral estate except for the coal conveyed to those prior.

Backtrack a bit, and it might make sense. Because the original Fullers had conveyed their coal interests in the first place, the most recent successor has the right to the mineral estate. Now that your head’s done spinning, you can go rest up for lunch.

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