Basic Question: Requirements for a corporation to obtain control of property/mineral rights

I did not see another area which fits what I have to say so I started this topic.

As I have stated elsewhere I have had the bad luck to recently discover that my name is among those listed as co-owners of inherited property and mineral rights in the state of West Virginia. This knowledge came via a simple message left for me on a genealogy web site by a person searching for a "lost" member of my mother's family. I was told the search was being conducted for a corporation having a desire to lease the property rights which I had inherited.

"I have inherited property?" That was news to me.

A short time later i received an UNSOLICITED lease contract from one of the corporations drilling in WV stating that they wanted to lease the property/mineral rights which I shared ownership with (it would later be disclosed 265 others).

I read and rejected the contract on the first read. I have post this elsewhere on this site but it seems to have disappeared, the contract states in plain English that in case of personal injury or dead during the use of the property the lessee will not be held responsible. I can't believe the other 265 parties have since signed the contract. I have recently received notice that the potential lessee will take me to court if I do not sign and the judge will be asked to force me to rid myself of the property.

Which leads to the question I want to ask here: To me it appears that the corporation believes that the SIMPLE ACT of sending to me an UNSOLICITED lease contract obligates me to "roll over" and let the corporation have their way.

During the four phone calls the corporation reps have made to me I stated the exact reasons I would not sign the contract, yet they are taking me to court to try and force me to sell. I have been told by lawyers in my state that the laws of West Virginia are quite different in my state and they prefer to not get involved.

So the question I am asking is, basically, why the corporation thinks they have the right to take the actions they have announced? The last time I looked West Virginia is still part of the United States where the rights of private parties are observed. RCR 11/4/2016

Find yourself a good mineral lawyer in the state of West Virginia. Don't be buffaloed into signing something tha could get yourself in a bunch of hot water. If someone files a workmens comp claim while working on the property, you could find yourself liable.

Money spent on lawyers is money well spent in my estimation.

Good luck.

Good advice from Robert V Gill.

I can recommend two: Kyle Nuttall who is a member of this forum, and

Scott Windom

You can contact both of them and see what they say. Usually attorneys give a free brief conversation about the situation. I think sometimes they wait on payment until after you get your bonus, or at least until after the lease is signed and the money and terms agreed upon.

Worth the time to talk with them. Both know a lot about the situation.

Thank you for the reply. I want to add that over the weekend I mentioned this clause in the "pending" contract. All four were from Central Ohio and one had a grandfather who was a miner in WV for 38 years. Upon hearing my tale all four remarked that the contract left me responsible. I started to ask myself if I was using the exact wording wording of the contract. With the co owners that will communicate with me I have to explain WHY the wording makes the owner responsible. I have discovered another. perhaps, mis-understanding. In the clause stating that "you" will receive a 15% royalty BASED on the gas flowing through the well head. It appears that they read "you" as each of the co-owners, NOT the "you" who are the combined owners. I ask them to do simple math, what is 15% times the over 200 co-owners? Is it more then 100%? Realized on my way here this morning is that my real problem is that I inherited something through my mother's family which I share with persons to whom I am related only because my parents married. The other relatives with which I have shared my thoughts are from my father's family. To these people I do feel related as we share a common a family name/surname. They are in Western states and have experience with the same contractor (probably through mining, not gas). They see the same meaning of the words of the WV contract as myself. When I asked a corp rep why the WV contract was worded as it is he stated that all of their WV contracts were worded in that manner. The majority of the co-owners are in WV and that suggests "something", however, I do not know what went through the minds of each as they signed (Please note that I do know some felt threatened by law suits "in the name of the co-owners who felt as if their rights were being denied", that wording from a letter to me from the corporation). m Oh well, welcome to the United States, whatever that means.

Thank you for the advise. See my reply to Robert V. Gill. To be honest, and the involved corporation knows this, the royalty from owning an unassigned half acre of land out of a total of 24.5 acres split 265 ways with various amounts of divisions, is not worth the cost of hiring someone, basically, to explain the contract in the English language let alone the cost of going to court to settle the dispute. I can't afford to go to Doddridge WV for the hearing tomorrow nor will my current health make it possible. I already assume that my no show will be read as a victory for the corporation. After all, as the corp rep told me, "All of our West Virginia contracts are written that way." Do I have reason to believe that suddenly the judge will see things my way if such contracts are common in that state and no one seems to have contested them in court? Thanks again. RCR 11/7/2016 (I tend to sign this way in case I do end up in court because of what I have stated on web sites open to public use. Helps me index my statements.)