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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in this quiet title action filed by Richard Jordan seeking to invalidate a mortgage lien on the ground that it was an improper encumbrance of the homestead under Neb. Rev. Stat. 40-104 because his signatures on the deed of trust were forged. In a previous order of dissolution and property division, the court allocated to Richard the marital home and its refinancing mortgage debt. In this quiet title action, the court granted summary judgment against Richard, finding that the deed of trust was a valid first and prior lien on the real estate and that Richard’s quiet title action was barred by issue preclusion and judicial estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) issue preclusion and judicial estoppel may supply the statutory requirements set forth in Neb. Reb. Stat. 40-104 for encumbrances of a homestead; and (2) the district court did not err in finding as a matter of law that Richard’s attempt to invalidate the lien at issue was barred by issue preclusion. View "Jordan v. LSF8 Master Participation Trust" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether, when the defendant has caused a physical invasion of the plaintiff’s property, the plaintiff must present evidence of a specific diminution in market value in order to successfully prove nuisance. An oil tanker owned and operated by Defendant overturned, resulting in more than 9,000 gallons of oil and kerosene spilled from the tanker and onto property belonging to Plaintiffs. The superior court entered judgment upon a jury verdict awarding Plaintiffs compensatory damages in the amount of $490,000 on Plaintiffs’ claim of nuisance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law on the nuisance claim because Plaintiffs did not present any evidence of a specific diminution in market value of their land due to the spill. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs in this case did not need to show a specific depreciation in the market or rental value of the land, and therefore, the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law on the nuisance claim; and (2) the trial court did not err when it allowed Plaintiffs to introduce evidence of the conduct of Defendant’s insurer at trial. View "West v. Jewett & Noonan Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the determination of the superior court that Plaintiffs’ Me. R. Civ. P. 80B petition was moot, vacated the declaratory judgment entered by the court, and remanded for dismissal of the complaint in its entirety. At issue was the decision of the Town of Brunswick to sell certain property. Brunswick residents began initiative proceedings to enact an ordinance that would require the Town to retain the parcel for public use. After the requisite number of signatures were obtained, the town council decided to take no further action on the petition. Plaintiffs filed a Rule 80B petition for review of the council’s decision and sought a declaration that the town charter permits voters to enact, by initiative, an ordinance that would overturn the council’s decision to sell the property. The superior court concluded that the Town erred in declining to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance but determined that the issue had been rendered moot by the sale of property. The court then entered a declaratory judgment that the voters could not override the council's vote to sell the property. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the lower court correctly determined the Rule 80B petition to be moot and should have done the same regarding the declaratory judgment action. View "Brunswick Citizens for Collaborative Government v. Town of Brunswick" on Justia Law

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In this action to quiet title to real property owned by Defendants under a claim of adverse possession, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court finding that Plaintiff was entitled to the disputed property by adversely possessing it for forty years and dismissing Defendants’ counterclaim to quiet title to an adjacent property under a claim of adverse possession. Defendants opposed Plaintiff’s adverse possession claim on the basis that Plaintiff and his predecessor in interest occupied the disputed property with Defendants’ consent. After filing a counterclaim against Plaintiff, Defendants voluntarily dismissed the counterclaim before trial. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment in this case, holding (1) permissive use does not ripen into a claim of hostility by the mere transfer of the dominant estate; (2) the circuit court erred by quieting title to the disputed property in favor of Plaintiff because his permissive use never ripened into one of hostility necessary to claim title by adverse possession; and (3) the circuit court abused its discretion by dismissing the counterclaim with prejudice, especially in light of the fact that Plaintiff did not oppose Defendants’ voluntary dismissal. View "Gangle v. Spiry" on Justia Law

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The owner of Greenfield Ranch in Mendocino County subdivided the property into 25 parcels with a minimum acreage of 160 acres each. One of those parcels was divided by a 1975 partition judgment into three parcels. McLear-Gary owns the westernmost parcel (1-A). The Scotts own the easternmost parcel (1-C). The Brandon-Scotts own the center parcel (1-B). McLear-Gary claims an easement along a skid trail that passes through parcel 1-C, terminates at a creek and continues on a footpath over parcel 1-B to her parcel 1-A. In 2006, Scott replaced an old wooden gate with a metal gate across the easement route and kept it locked, blocking McLear-Gary from accessing the easement. McLearGary sued to quiet title. The Scotts had timely paid taxes on parcel 1-C; the taxes levied against parcel 1-B for the years 2005-2008 were not paid on time and remained delinquent until Scott made a lump sum payment in 2011. The court of appeal held that the covenants did not grant McLear-Gary an express easement and that McLear-Gary had not established a prescriptive easement for vehicular use. Scotts’ lump sum payment of several years’ worth of delinquent taxes did not constitute “timely” payment of taxes under Code of Civil Procedure section 325(b), so the Scotts did not extinguish her easement by adverse possession. View "McLear-Gary v. Scott" on Justia Law

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Greggory Tank appealed an amended judgment quieting title to royalty interests in property located in McKenzie County, North Dakota in favor of several of the defendants. In June 2014, Tank sued numerous defendants seeking to quiet title to royalty interests in proceeds from the production from an oil and gas well. Most of the defendants did not appear or settled with Tank. The remaining defendants who were the appellees in this appeal contested the quiet title action. The royalty interests at issue were subject to several possible conveyances. Tank claims ownership of a 16 percent royalty interest based on an unbroken chain of title utilizing filed county records dating back to the federal fee patent. Included within that chain of title was a 1931 purchase of the property by McKenzie County under a tax foreclosure sale. The County subsequently sold and transferred the property in 1945. The defendants claimed various percentages of royalty interests under a recorded 1938 assignment of an 11 percent royalty to oil and gas produced on the property. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the district court's amended judgment quieting title to the royalty interests in favor of the defendants and directed the entry of judgment quieting title in favor of Tank. A county's tax deed gives it title or color of title to the whole estate in the land including the royalty interests. A tax deed, valid upon its face, creates a presumptive title to the entire estate in the land which continues until it has been overcome by the affirmative action in court, by suit or counterclaim on the part of a person who has a sufficient interest to challenge the title. Royalty interests cannot be "possessed" for purposes of the statute of limitations or adverse possession. The Court remanded this case to the district court for determination of whether Tank was barred from the recovery of royalty payments previously made to the defendants and, if not barred, the amount of the recovery. View "Siana Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Dublin Co." on Justia Law

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Jeff Moen appealed a judgment awarding Jason Haider damages for wrongful injury to timber. Moen argued the district court abused its discretion in excluding a jury instruction on treble damages and erred in admitting an expert's testimony. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's admission of expert testimony, reversed the district court's exclusion of a jury instruction on treble damages, and remanded this case for a new trial. View "Haider v. Moen" on Justia Law

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The Inholders own patented mining and homestead claims within the Santa Fe National Forest. The 2011 Las Conchas Fire caused widespread destruction of vegetation within the forest. Forest Roads 89 and 268, which the Inholders had used to access their properties, were severely damaged by subsequent flooding. The Forest Service notified them that the roads were “impassible” and that it would provide them with limited access: “a combination of driving and hiking over specific routes and under specific weather conditions.” Later, the Service sent a letter stating that “public safety would be highly threatened by use of” the roads; that it would close the roads to public access for the foreseeable future; that because of continuing terrain instability, any reconstruction would likely be destroyed by future flooding; and, even if reconstruction were possible, the Service could not justify expending public funds when there is no general public need. The Service suggested that the Inholders work “collectively” to reconstruct the roads. The Inholders claimed that they held statutorily-granted easements. The USDA disagreed, citing 90 Stat. 2743, but acknowledged that the Inholders had a right to access their properties, “subject to reasonable regulations.” The Inholders claimed a compensable taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal, finding that the Inholders had not adequately pled a physical taking and that any regulatory taking claim was not ripe because the Inholders had not applied for a permit to reconstruct the roads. View "Martin v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for Wells Fargo in a third lawsuit arising between the parties involving the foreclosure of plaintiff's property. Plaintiff alleged that the bank violated Minn. Stat. 582.043 when it continued with foreclosure proceedings after he had submitted an application for a loan modification, and Wells Fargo brought a counterclaim against him for breach of a prior settlement agreement. The court held that plaintiff's claim was barred by res judicata because he could have brought the claim during the 2013 foreclosure litigation and he had an opportunity to litigate the claim fairly and fully if he had timely raised it. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings for Wells Fargo on the bank's counterclaim where plaintiff was not discharged from his obligation to perform under the settlement agreement. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying leave to amend on futility grounds. View "Lansing v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Fla. Stat. 702.06 permits an independent action at law for a deficiency judgment when the foreclosure court has expressly reserved jurisdiction to handle a deficiency claim but has not actually decided the merits of the claim. Heather Lanham’s residential property was foreclosed by final judgment that expressly reserved jurisdiction to rule on any future deficiency claim. Dyck-O’Neal, Inc., which was assigned the mortgage and note, filed a separate action at law against Lanham seeking a deficiency judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Lanham. The First District Court of Appeal quashed the trial court’s decision, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the suit under Fla. Stat. 702.06 because the foreclosure court previously had reserved jurisdiction to handle the deficiency claim. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that section 702.06 plainly precludes the separate action only where the foreclosure court has actually ruled on the claim. View "Dyck-O'Neal, Inc. v. Lanham" on Justia Law