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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and concluding that Plaintiffs did not have an easement to access a nearby airstrip located on Defendants’ property. Plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory, quiet title, injunctive and other relief against Defendants, arguing that they were entitled to access and use the airstrip from their property pursuant to the terms of a 1981 easement grant. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs’ property was not benefitted by an easement that would give Plaintiffs access to the airstrip. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined that Plaintiffs were not entitled to access an easement on Defendants’ property. View "Hudson v. Irwin" on Justia Law

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Subsection 4(a) of Rhode Island’s Right to Farm Act, Rhode Island General Laws chapter 23 of title 2, does not permit Landowner to host commercial events, such as weddings for a fee, on his farmland in the Town of Exeter, Rhode Island. Landowner attempted to obtain a zoning certificate from the Town that would allow him to host a commercial fundraising event on his farmland. When the Town denied the request, Landowner filed suit, seeking a number of declarations. At issue was whether a 2014 amendment to R.I. Gen. Laws 2-23-4(a) rendered a previous permanent injunction enjoining Landowner from using his property for commercial events a nullity. The trial justice denied Landowner’s request for declaratory relief, concluding that the 2014 amendment did not supersede the 2011 injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on the unambiguous language of section 2-23-4(a), Landowner remained bound by the injunction. View "Gerald P. Zarrella Trust v. Town of Exeter" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for causes of action arising out of defendant's breach of contract, and for fraud. Plaintiff and defendant had entered into a contract under which plaintiff paid the purchase price for a Malibu residence to be held by defendant as the "nominal owner." The trial court rejected plaintiff's fraud claim, but found that defendant had breached the contract. The trial court denied plaintiff's request for rescission, but ordered that the property be sold and the proceeds apportioned between the parties in accordance with the contract. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not err by granting plaintiff relief based on defendant's breach of contract; defendant's challenge to particular provisions of the judgment were rejected; and plaintiff's appeal from an order denying his motion for leave to amend was moot. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Guan v. Hu" on Justia Law

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A homeowner’s failure to obtain injunctive relief under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 33-811(C) before a trustee’s sale results in the waiver of the homeowner’s damages claims dependent on the validity of the sale. After a trustee’s sale, Plaintiff filed this complaint seeking damages and to quiet title to the property in her name, alleging that the trustee’s deed resulting from the sale was invalidly recorded and that the sale was invalid. The trial court dismissed the complaint under Ariz. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), concluding that under section 33-811(C), Plaintiff had waived her claims by not obtaining injunctive relief before the trustee’s sale. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 33-811(C) bars claims dependent on the trustee’s sale unless an injunction is obtained before the sale. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Plaintiff’s failure to seek injunctive relief under section 33-811(C) resulted in a waiver of her damages claims resulting from the allegedly fraudulent trustee’s sale. View "Zubia v. Shapiro" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Department in an action challenging the Department's decision to take a tract of land into trust for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and authorized it to operate a casino there. The court held that the North Fork was an Indian tribe for which the Department had authority to acquire trust land under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). The court rejected plaintiffs' claims that the Department's trust decision violated the IRA, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The court viewed the same extensive record and afforded the appropriate measure of deference to the Department's supportable judgments and concluded that its decisions were reasonable and consistent with applicable law. View "Stand Up For California! v. DOI" on Justia Law

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In an eminent domain matter, the condemning agency, Tri-City Healthcare District (Tri-City), made a pretrial deposit of $4.7 million and sought to take immediate possession of the subject property, a partially completed medical building. Medical Acquisition Company, Inc. (MAC) stipulated to Tri-City's possession of the building and withdrew the $4.7 million deposited under the "quick-take" provision of the California Constitution. The eminent domain matter was consolidated with another case involving a lease between the parties and ultimately proceeded to trial where a jury determined just compensation for the taking was nearly $17 million. The court subsequently ordered Tri- City to increase its deposit by about $12.2 million. Among other procedural maneuvers, Tri-City filed a notice of abandonment of the eminent domain proceeding. However, the superior court granted MAC's motion to set aside the abandonment. Tri-City appealed that order in addition to the judgment. MAC argued that after judgment, withdrawing a deposit made in an eminent domain action was governed solely by Code of Civil Procedure section 1268.140. Under that section, MAC contended the superior court could not impose any undertaking regarding the prompt release of a deposit to a single claimant after judgment has been entered. In addition, MAC argued the bonding requirement here frustrated the purpose of the quick-take provision of the California Constitution, and thus, should be declared unconstitutional. This was a matter of first impression for the Court of Appeal. After review, the Court concluded MAC was correct that any postjudgment withdrawal of a deposit in an eminent domain case was governed by section 1268.140. However, that provision allowed a court, in its discretion, to impose an undertaking upon objection by any party to the proceeding. The Court concluded MAC did not show how the trial court abused its discretion under section 1268.140. Additionally, the Court determined that MAC's contention that the bonding requirement was unconstitutional was without merit. As such, the Court of Appeal denied the requested relief. View "Medical Acquisition Company v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order striking LNG's verified claim in a civil forfeiture proceeding. The court held that LNG's verified claim was materially indistinguishable from the claim a panel of the court found inadequate in United States v. $154,853.00 in U.S. Currency, 744 F.3d 559 (8th Cir. 2014). In this case, LNG's verified claim failed to meet the threshold pleading requirement set forth in Rule G(5) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. View "United States v. LNG Express, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that the City of Milwaukee complied with Wis. Stat. 70.32(1) in its tax assessment of property owned by Metropolitan Associates. Also on appeal, Metropolitan asked the Supreme Court to substitute the court’s judgment for the circuit court’s judgment regarding the credibility of witnesses and the relative weights to assign to various pieces of evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) the City’s assessment of Metropolitan’s property complied with the statute; (2) the circuit court’s findings of fact regarding the reliability of respective appraisals were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court’s findings were sufficient to support its determination regardless of whether the presumption of correctness was employed. View "Metropolitan Associates v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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This case involved an implied covenant to market gas. Energen owned and operated oil and gas wells in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Its wells were subject to leases and other agreements (many of which were quite old) requiring it to pay a monthly royalty or overriding royalty on production to the Anderson Living Trust, the Pritchett Living Trust, the Neely-Robertson Revocable Family Trust (N-R Trust), and the Tatum Living Trust. Believing Energen was systematically underpaying royalties, the Trusts filed a putative class action complaint against it. The New Mexico Trusts claimed Energen was improperly deducting from their royalties their proportionate share of (1) the costs it incurs to place the gas produced from the wells in a marketable condition (postproduction costs) and (2) a privilege tax the State of New Mexico imposes on natural gas processors (the natural gas processors tax). They also alleged Energen had not timely paid royalties or interest thereon, as required by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Proceeds Payments Act. Both the New Mexico Trusts and the Tatum Trust further claimed Energen was wrongfully failing to pay royalty on the gas it used as fuel. The district judge dismissed the New Mexico Trusts’ marketable condition rule claim for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and entered summary judgment in favor of Energen on the remaining claims. All of the Trusts appealed those judgments. For the most part, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court. The Tenth Circuit’s analysis differed from that of the district court relating to: (1) the fuel gas claims made by the N-R Trust and Tatum Trust; and (2) the New Mexico Trusts’ claim under the New Mexico Oil and Gas Proceeds Payments Act. As to the former, the N-R Trust’s overriding royalty agreement required royalty to be paid on all gas produced, including that gas used as fuel. And the Tatum Trust’s leases explicitly prohibited Energen from deducting post-production costs (Energen treats its use of the fuel gas as an in-kind postproduction cost). Moreover, the “free use” clauses and royalty provisions in the Tatum Trust’s leases limited the free use of gas to that occurring on the leased premises. Because use of the fuel gas occurred off the leased premises, Energen owed royalty on that gas. With regard to the latter, the district court was right in permitting Energen to hold funds owed to the N-R Trust in a suspense account until a title issue concerning a well was resolved in favor of that Trust. However, the district court did not address whether the N-R Trust was entitled to statutory interest on those funds. It was so entitled, yet the current record (at least in the Tenth Circuit’s analysis) did not show interest to have been paid on the funds. View "Anderson Living Trust v. Energen Resources" on Justia Law

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Chad and Jane Barnes appealed a district court’s order granting summary judgment and dismissing their lawsuit against Kirk Jackson. In 2014, Barnes filed suit against Jackson seeking a declaration of forfeiture as to Jackson’s water right (“Jackson’s Right”). Barnes alleged that Jackson’s Right was unused for the five-year statutory period and was therefore forfeited. The district court explained that, under the resumption-of-use doctrine, statutory forfeiture is not effective if, after five years of nonuse, an appropriator resumes use prior to the assertion of a claim of right by a junior appropriator. The district court noted that Jackson had used the water as early as 2012, two years before Barnes purchased his property; therefore, Barnes was barred from asserting that he had relied upon Jackson’s unused water since 2012. The district court acknowledged Barnes’ related argument, that he was somehow connected to his predecessor in interest, and therefore could assert the predecessor’s claim of right. However, the district court noted that there was no statutory or legal basis for the position. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Jackson. Finding no reversible error after review of the district court record, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barnes v. Jackson" on Justia Law