Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company (“Philadelphia”) and Lexington Insurance Company (“Lexington”) insured the same school building that suffered fire damage. In a declaratory judgment action, they disputed their relative responsibilities to pay for the loss. The district court ordered Philadelphia to pay 54 percent and Lexington to pay 46 percent of the approximately $6 million loss. Lexington appealed, arguing it should have no obligation to pay. Philadelphia cross-appealed, arguing Lexington should have paid more. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's allocation between the insurers. View "Philadelphia Indemnity v. Lexington Insurance" on Justia Law

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DWG Oil & Gas Acquisitions, LLC (DWG) contended that it was the current owner of the oil and gas underlying a parcel of land in Marshall County. The circuit court determined that the oil and gas underlying the parcel was conveyed by a 1913 deed to A.B. Campbell, a predecessor in title of Southern County Farms, Inc., Harlan and Barbara Kittle, and Lori Carpenter (collectively, Defendants). Consequently, title to the oil and gas was vested in Defendants rather than DWG. DWG appealed, arguing that it was the current owner of the oil and gas at issue by virtue of a competing chain of title arising from a 1908 deed executed by P. P. Campbell, Sr. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly applied the law and properly found that title to the oil and gas underlying the parcel of land is currently vested in Defendants. View "DWG Oil & Gas Acquistions, LLC v. Southern Country Farms" on Justia Law

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Gloria Carignan, whose property was bordered by Willow Street - a paper street - filed a complaint against Paul Dumas and Robert Richard, an alleged contractor for Dumas, asserting six causes of action relating to Richard’s use of Willow Street to access Dumas’s parcel of land. Carignan later amended her complaint to seek declaratory judgment. The superior court granted summary judgment for Carignan and denied summary judgment for Dumas. Dumas appealed, arguing that the court erred in interpreting a provision of the Paper Streets Act to apply retrospectively. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed and therefore vacated the entry of summary judgment for Carignan and the denial of summary judgment for Dumas, holding that the court erred in its application of sections 3031 and 3032 of the Paper Streets Act and its finding that Dumas had abandoned any easement to which he might be entitled. Remanded. View "Carignan v. Dumas" on Justia Law

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After a nearby ditch began to erode causing significant property damage and mold-related health issues, Plaintiffs John and Patsy O’Callaghan filed an inverse condemnation action under the Takings Clause of the Mississippi Constitution, requesting that the City of Tupelo compensate the couple for both personal injuries and significant property loss. The City presented an interlocutory appeal challenging the County Court’s order denying its motion for summary judgment on the matter. Finding that personal injuries were not recoverable in a claim under the Takings Clause and that the three-year limitations period under Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49 was applicable to takings claims, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, rendering a decision for the City. View "City of Tupelo v. O'Callaghan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Kettle Brook Realty, LLC, owned real property in the Town of East Windsor that that was assessed for purposes of the October 1, 2012 grand list. The Board of Assessment Appeals denied Plaintiff’s request for a reduction in the property’s assessed value. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in the superior court alleging that its property had been overvalued. The Town filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff did not serve the appeal papers within the two-month period allotted by Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a. The superior court granted the Town’s motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that, under the plain language of section 12-117a, its appeal was timely commenced upon the filing of its appeal documents in the superior court even though the appeal was not served on the Town until a date beyond the expiration of the two-month appeal period. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to serve its appeal on the Town within the two-month limitation period, the trial court properly dismissed the appeal as untimely. View "Kettle Brook Realty, LLC v. Town of East Windsor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Chestnut Point Realty, LLC, owned real property in the Town of East Windsor that that was assessed for purposes of the October 1, 2012 grand list. The Board of Assessment Appeals denied Plaintiff’s request for a reduction in the property’s assessed value. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in the superior court alleging that the property had been overvalued. The Town filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff did not serve the appeal papers within the two-month period allotted by Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a. The superior court granted the Town's motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that, under the plain language of section 12-117a, its appeal was timely commenced upon the filing of its appeal documents in the superior court even though the appeal was not served on the Town until a date beyond the expiration of the two-month appeal period. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to serve its appeal on the Town within the two-month limitation period, the trial court properly dismissed the appeal as untimely. View "Chestnut Point Realty, LLC v. Town of East Windsor" on Justia Law

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After DEA agents seized $99,500 in cash from plaintiff's carry-on bag at San Francisco International Airport, the DEA sent plaintiff a notice on May 1, 2013, informing plaintiff that the money was subject to forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. 881 as a result of a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The notice stated that June 5, 2013 was the deadline to file a contest of the forfeiture. On June 4th, 2013, plaintiff's attorney tendered plaintiff's claim to FedEx for overnight delivery to the DEA, but the DEA did not receive the claim until June 6th. Plaintiff eventually filed a motion for return of property under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), arguing that the DEA had wrongfully deemed his claim untimely and that the district court should exercise its equitable jurisdiction to toll the filing deadline. The district court held that it had equitable jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's motion, but denied plaintiff's motion on the merits. The court treated section 983(e) of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), 18 U.S.C. 983(e), as a claim-processing rule. In this case, the district court correctly determined that it had jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's motion for equitable relief because there is no clear jurisdictional limitation to CAFRA. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that he pursued his rights diligently and that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion. View "Okafor v. United States" on Justia Law

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Consolidated cases required the Vermont Supreme Court to revisit whether Vermont law recognized a cause of action for private nuisance based solely on aesthetic considerations. Appellants, a group of landowners from New Haven, appealed when the trial court granted summary judgment to defendants, two solar energy companies. The landowners filed suit after their neighbors leased property to the solar companies for the purpose of constructing commercial solar arrays. According to the landowners, the solar arrays constituted a private nuisance because they negatively affected the surrounding area's rural aesthetic, causing properties in their vicinity to lose value. The trial court consolidated the cases and, noting that the Vermont Supreme Court's precedent in "Hager" barred nuisance actions based purely on aesthetics, and granted summary judgment to the solar companies. The Supreme Court upheld Vermont's long-standing rule barring private nuisance actions based upon aesthetic disapproval alone. View "Myrick v. Peck Electric Company" on Justia Law

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Two companies applied for permits to expand their oil terminals on Grays Harbor. The issue here this case presented was whether the Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA), applied to these expansion projects. The Shoreline Hearings Board (Board) and the Court of Appeals held that ORMA did not apply to these projects based on limited definitions in the Department of Ecology's (DOE) ORMA implementation regulations. The parties also contested whether these projects qualify as "ocean uses" or "transportation" under DOE's regulations. The Washington Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals’ interpretation improperly restricted ORMA, which was enacted to broadly protect against the environmental dangers of oil and other fossil fuels. The Supreme Court also held that these projects qualified as both ocean uses and transportation. And though not discussed by the parties or the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court found these projects qualified as "coastal uses" under DOE's regulations. Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded for further review under ORMA's provisions. View "Quinault Indian Nation v. City of Hoquiam" on Justia Law

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Utah Code 57-1-21 requires the trustee of a nonjudicial foreclosure sale to maintain a physical office location within the state. In this case, Samuel Adamson refinanced his home through a deed of trust and then defaulted on the loan. ReconTrust sold property in a nonjudicial foreclosure sale to BAC Home Loans Services, LP. Distressed Asset eventually purchased the property. When Distressed Asset filed an unlawful detainer action against the Adamsons, the Adamsons argued that the trustee’s sale was defective because ReconTrust violated section 57-1-21. The district court dismissed the unlawful detainer action, concluding that the failure to satisfy section 57-1-21 rendered the trustee sale void ab initio. Here, the Supreme Court clarified the differences between void, voidable, and valid trustee’s deeds under Utah law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in dismissing the action because, under the circumstances of this case, the violation of the statute did not result in a void or voidable trustee’s deed. Remanded. View "Bank of America v. Adamson" on Justia Law