The State ex rel. R.T.G., Inc. et al. v. The State of Ohio
98 Ohio St.3d 1, 780 N.E.2d 998
Facts: RTG bought some property in
order to surface-mine some coal in eastern Ohio. Some time later, the Ohio Department of
Resources ruled that part of the land was unsuitable for mining because it
interfered with an aquifer providing water to Pleasant City. RTG filed a complaint the Tenth District Court
of Appeals seeking a writ of mandamus.
It looks like RTG got their writ, but somehow not the one they wanted
and so they appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Issue: Did the Ohio Reclamation
Board of Review’s decision that RTG’s land was
unsuitable for mining constitute a compensable taking?
Rule: The rule of Lucas applies if there has
been a 100% taking, while the rule of Penn Central
applies if the taking is less than 100%.
The “percentage” will largely depend on how the court defines the denominator
of the fraction.
Analysis: The court accepts RTG’s contention that the relevant parcel should be defined
as only the coal rights and not the surface rights to their property. Furthermore, the court notes that coal rights
are recognized as “separate property rights” in Ohio. The court looks at what the relevant parcel
was along both “horizontal” and “vertical” axes, and finds that the relevant
parcel in this case coincides precisely with RTG’s coal
rights. That means there has been a 100%
taking, and the hard-edged, per se
rule of Lucas controls. Lucas finds a compensable
taking except when the activity being
regulated is a nuisance. The court finds
that coal mining is neither an “absolute” nor a “qualified” nuisance because it
is a lawful activity. Therefore, the UFM
designation constitutes a compensable taking.
Conclusion: The judgment of the Court
of Appeals is reversed and a writ of mandamus is issued to compel the state to pay
for the value of the coal within the “unsuitable for mining” area.
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