Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff-appellant Amber Machowski was an individual with a disability who used a wheelchair for mobility. Defendant 333 N. Placentia Property, LLC, was the owner of a property in Fullerton, California, on which a business establishment known as City Market Liquor II was located. When Machowski attempted to patronize the store, she encountered architectural barriers that prevented her from making full use and enjoyment of the premises. Machowski sued Defendant, asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The complaint sought injunctive relief, statutory damages under the Unruh Act, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. After Defendant failed to respond to the complaint, Machowski applied for the entry of default judgment, seeking injunctive relief and statutory damages. Machowski’s application for default judgment did not seek an award of attorney’s fees. Instead, it advised the district court that “plaintiff will separately file a motion for her attorney fees and costs once this application is granted and judgment has been entered.” The district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Machowski’s Unruh Act claim, granted default judgment on her ADA claim, ordered injunctive relief, and sua sponte awarded Machowski $1000 in attorney’s fees under Central District of California Local Rule 55-3. Machowski timely appealed the fee award. The Ninth Circuit held that where, as here, a prevailing party advises the district court that it is opting out of the fee schedule and will seek by motion, an award of reasonable attorney's fees, the district court abuses its discretion by disregarding the plaintiff's choice and sua sponte awarding fees under the fee schedule. Accordingly, the fee award was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Machowski v. 333 N. Placentia Property, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiffs and denying declaratory and injunctive relief requested in a counterclaim filed by Defendants, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.On appeal, Defendants challenged the trial justice's ruling that a two-member condominium board consisting of the owners of the condominium's two units were not inconsistent with the R.I. Condominium Act, holding them in contempt, and awarding Plaintiffs attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court correctly denied Defendants' counterclaims; (2) the trial justice did not abuse its discretion in findings Defendants in civil contempt of a temporary restraining order; and (3) there was no abuse of discretion with respect to the trial justice's award of attorneys' fees. View "Anton v. Houze" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this lawsuit after its prior decision that a 2006 agreement between the cities of Spring Hill and Olathe was unenforceable as a governmental action that could not bind subsequent city councils, holding that Olathe was not entitled to relief on any of its claims of error.The agreement at issue restricted the cities' future growth by establishing boundaries for annexing land lying adjacent to the two cities. The agreement had no fixed expiration term and stated that termination could occur only upon mutual consent of the parties. In 2021, Olathe filed a petition seeking preliminary and injunctive relief to restrain Spring Hill from annexing certain disputed property. The district court denied the request for injunctive relief and then dismissed the suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the agreement was an unenforceable attempt to bind future city councils to a governmental policy decision. View "City of Olathe v. City of Spring Hill" on Justia Law

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Fountain of praise, a church, leased space to Central Care Integrated Health Services. Shortly after the execution of the lease, the relationship soured when the parties disagreed on the frequency and amount of rent payments. Eventually, Fountain of Praise terminated the lease and successfully evicted Central Care from the premises.Subsequently, Central Care filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Central Care then sued Fountain of Praise in state court, claiming breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Fountain of Praise then removed the case to bankruptcy court as an adversary proceeding. The bankruptcy court entered judgment in favor of Fountain of Praise, finding that any breach was excusable due to Central Care's failure to make timely rent payments and that Central Care lacked the requisite interest in the property for an unjust enrichment claim.Central Care appealed, and the district court judge assigned to the case reassigned the case to a magistrate judge who affirmed the bankruptcy court's judgment.On appeal, the Fifth Circuit vacated the magistrate judge's order, finding that the district court improperly authorized referral of the appeal from a bankruptcy court decision to a magistrate judge. Under 28 U.S.C. Section 158, appeals from a bankruptcy court must be heard either by the district court or a panel of bankruptcy court judges. View "South Central v. Oak Baptist" on Justia Law

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In 2017, Appellant Shoshone County assessed properties owned by Respondents S&W OPS, LLC; POWDER, LLC; H2O, LLC; GOLF, LLC; APARTMENT, LLC; F&B, LLC; and VILLAGE MANAGEMENT, LLC (collectively “Taxpayers”). Taxpayers disputed the valuation and sought review by the Board of Equalization, and subsequently the Board of Tax Appeals (“BTA”). The BTA reduced the assessed value, and the County appealed to the district court. After a four-day bench trial, the district court upheld the BTA decision, determining that the County’s appraisal evidence was more credible than Taxpayers’ evidence; however, the district court ultimately held the County had not satisfied its burden of showing how the BTA decision was erroneous by a preponderance of the evidence. The County appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing that the district court applied the wrong standard of review by requiring the County to prove “how or why” the BTA decision was erroneous instead of simply concluding that the market value of the property was different than what was found by the BTA. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with the County’s position. The district court’s decision was reversed, the judgment was vacated, and the case was remanded with instructions for the district court to consider whether the BTA’s decision on valuation was erroneous given the evidence submitted during the de novo trial. If that decision on valuation was erroneous, the district court, as the fact-finder, had to set the valuation. View "Shoshone County v. S&W OPS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing orders of the circuit court dismissing challenges brought by the Friends of the Black River Forest and Claudia Bricks (collectively, the Friends) to a land exchange between J. Kohler Company and the Department of Natural Resources, holding that Friends lacked standing to challenge the land transfer decision.Friends filed an action challenging the Board's decision approving an agreement between the Department and Kohler for the land exchange. The circuit court granted Kohler's motion to dismiss, concluding that Friends lacked standing because the alleged injuries did not flow directly from the land swap decision. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Friends alleged sufficient injuries to satisfy standing under Wis. Stat. 227.52 and 227.53. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that none of the statutes or regulations cited by Friends protected any legally protected, recognized, or regulated interests of Friends that would permit them to challenge the Board's decision as aggrieved persons. View "Friends of the Black River Forest v. Wis. Department of Natural Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's action with prejudice, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims of error.Plaintiff sued a neighboring confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) alleging common law nuisance, trespass, and drainage law violations. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on the statutory immunity in Iowa Code 657.11. Plaintiff, relying on , argued that section 657.11, as applied, violated the Iowa Constitution's inalienable rights clause. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the three-part test set forth in Gacke is overruled; (2) under rational basis review, Plaintiff's constitutional challenge to section 657.11 was unavailing; (2) Plaintiff failed to preserve error on his takings claim; and (3) as to Plaintiff's trespass and drainage claims Plaintiff failed to generate a question of fact precluding summary judgment on statutory nuisance immunity or causation. View "Garrison v. New Fashion Pork LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the challenges brought by Salt Lake City to four provisions of the Utah Inland Port Authority Act, holding that the challenged zoning provisions did not violate the Utah Constitution.The Act requires that Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Magna adopt specific zoning regulations and permissions favorable to developing an inland port in the area. Salt Lake brought this action alleging that four provisions of the Act violated the Utah Constitution's Uniform Operation of Laws and Ripper clauses. The district court rejected the City's claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the zoning provisions were rationally related to a legitimate legislative purpose and therefore did not violate the Uniform Operation of Laws Clause; and (2) the zoning provisions did not delegate municipal functions in violation of the Ripper Clause. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Inland Port Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants - Jordan Realty and Smart Homes, LLC - and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his due process rights were violated when Jordan Realty failed to include a "language assistance notice" with its petition to foreclose right of redemption to a specific parcel of real estate in Central Falls, holding that there was no error.In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that the "purported service" made upon him was defective because Jordan Realty had not caused to be served upon him the language assistance notice that he argued was required. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendants, holding that Defendants had clearly complied with the notice requirements set forth in the tax sale statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in granting summary judgment for Defendants. View "Suncar v. Jordan Realty" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over whether homeowners may park a commercial van at and on their property in Bear, Delaware, the Court of Chancery held that the van was expressly permitted and that judgment should be entered in favor of the homeowners.Plaintiff was responsible for maintaining a private open space within a development. Property within the development was subject to restrictions set forth in a declaration of restrictions and an amendment to the declaration. Defendants were accused of violating a restriction on prohibited vehicles. Plaintiff filed the underlying complaint seeking a mandatory injunction to remove Defendants' van from the property. The Court of Chancery held that judgment should be entered in Defendants' favor because the van was expressly permitted under the amendment. View "Estates of Red Lion Maintenance Corp. v. Broome" on Justia Law