Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Baptistes filed suit on behalf of a class of homeowner-occupants and renters (about 8,400 households) claiming interference with the use and enjoyment of their homes and loss in property value caused by noxious odors and other air contaminants emanating from the 224-acre Bethlehem Landfill. The Third Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit. While everyone in the community—including visitors, commuters, and residents—may suffer from having to breathe polluted air in public spaces, the Baptistes have identified cumulative harms that are unique to residents, such as the inability to use and enjoy their outdoor spaces. These injuries are above and beyond any injury to the public; the Baptistes sufficiently alleged a “particular damage” to sustain a private claim for public nuisance. They also stated a claim for private nuisance. Pennsylvania law does not reject a private nuisance claim on the ground that the property affected was too far from the source of the alleged nuisance. Nor does Pennsylvania law condition an individual’s right to recover private property damages on a nuisance theory on the size of the nuisance or the number of persons harmed, as opposed to the nature of the rights affected or the degree of the harm suffered. The question remains whether the Baptistes have sufficiently pleaded a cognizable injury to state an independent negligence claim. View "Baptiste v. Bethlehem Landfill Co." on Justia Law

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The Bachner Company leased office space to the State of Alaska. The lease stipulated that the State would occupy 15,730 square feet of space but would not have to pay rent on 1,400 square feet of that space during the lease’s initial ten-year term. The lease further specified that if it was extended beyond the initial term the parties would negotiate a rate for the free space and the State would pay for it. Toward the end of the initial term the State exercised its first renewal option and opened negotiations with the company over the free space’s value. The parties retained an expert to value the space, but the State questioned his methods and conclusions. The State also resisted the company’s claim that the State should begin paying rent for additional space, not identified in the lease, that the company contended the State had been occupying. The parties failed to reach agreement, and the State did not pay rent for any of the extra square footage. Eventually the State executed a unilateral amendment to the lease based on the expert’s valuation and, ten months after the end of the lease’s initial term, paid all past-due rent for the formerly free space identified in the lease. The company filed a claim with the Department of Administration, contending that the State had materially breached the lease, the lease was terminated, and the State owed additional rent. A contracting officer rejected the claim, and on appeal an administrative law judge found there was no material breach, the lease had been properly extended, and the company had waived any claim regarding space not identified in the lease. The Commissioner of the Department of Administration adopted the administrative law judge’s findings and conclusions. The superior court affirmed the Commissioner’s decision except with regard to the space not identified in the lease; it directed the company to pursue any such claim in a separate action. Both parties appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the administrative law judge's findings were supported by substantial evidence, and because the lease did not terminate under the Supreme Court's interpretation of it, the Court affirmed the Commissioner's decision except with regard to the company's claim to rent for space not identified in the lease. The Court concluded that, to the extent it sought rent after the end of the initial term, it was not waived by the document on which the administrative law judge relied to find waiver. Only that issue was remanded to the Commissioner for further consideration. View "Bachner Company, Inc. v. Alaska Department of Administration" on Justia Law

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In a consolidated opinion, the Court of Appeal decided two appeals currently pending related to a proposed waterfront development project in the City of Redondo Beach. In the published portion of the opinion, the court held that the Developer has obtained vested rights against the City under Government Code section 66498.1 and those rights vested before the passage of Measure C. The court rejected the Residents' subsidiary argument that the vested rights issue is not ripe for decision. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in favor of the Developer. View "Redondo Beach Waterfront, LLC v. City of Redondo Beach" on Justia Law

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In this real property dispute, the Supreme Court clarified that its holding in Davidson v. Davidson, 382 P.3d 880 (Nev. 2016), does not apply to claims for enforcement of real property distribution in divorce decrees. The Supreme Court held in Davidson that the six-year statute of limitations in Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.190(1)(a) applies to claims for enforcement of a property distribution provision in a divorce decree. In the instant case, Appellant sought to partition real property that a divorce decree from nine years earlier awarded to Respondent as separate property. Appellant argued that the decree expired pursuant to Davidson, which precluded Respondent from enforcing his distribution rights under the decree and rendered the property still held in joint tenancy subject to partition. The district court granted summary judgment and quieted title in favor of Respondent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 11.190(1)(a) unambiguously excludes from its purview actions for recovery of real property, and therefore, Davidson did not apply; (2) Respondent was not required to renew the divorce decree pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 17.214 to enforce his real property rights; and (3) Appellant's partition claim was barred by claim preclusion. View "Kuptz-Blinkinsop v. Blinkinsop" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the entire amount of a homeowners' association's (HOA) yearly assessment can be included in the superpriority piece of an HOA's lien under Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3116 so long as the assessment became due in the nine months preceding the HOA's recording of its notice of delinquent assessments. When Homeowners did not pay their 2011 yearly assessment, the HOA, in April 2011, recorded a notice of lien for delinquent assessments. A Bank, the beneficiary of the first deed of trust on the property, requested the super priority amount from the HOA's foreclosure agent and then tendered to the foreclosure agent an amount representing nine out of twelve months of assessments. The HOA continued with the foreclosure sale, and Appellants purchased the property. Appellants filed a complaint seeking to quiet title to the property. The district court granted summary judgment for the Bank, concluding that the Bank's tender cured the default on the superpriority portion of the HOA's lien and that the foreclosure sale did not therefore extinguish the Bank's deed of trust. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the Bank did not tender the entire superpriority amount before the HOA foreclosed on its lien, the foreclosure sale extinguished the Bank's deed of trust on the property. View "Anthony S. Noonan IRA, LLC v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

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In 2005, U.S. Home Corporation entered into a contract to purchase two contiguous tracts of land, one of which was owned by West Pleasant-CPGT, Inc. Under the contract, West Pleasant and the other landowner were to gain certain approvals permitting development of the properties. Pursuant to the contract, U.S. Home paid advances to the landowners totaling over $1.5 million. As security for the advances, West Pleasant executed a mortgage and note on its property; the other landowner did not. When a contract dispute arose in 2006, U.S. Home sought to terminate the contract and get a return of its total advance. U.S. Home prevailed in arbitration and was awarded a judgment in the full amount of the advance, plus interest. The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment in 2009. When the judgment was not satisfied, U.S. Home commenced foreclosure actions against the properties. The foreclosure proceedings were stayed when West Pleasant and the other property owner filed for bankruptcy. In West Pleasant’s bankruptcy action, U.S. Home moved to dismiss and for relief from the automatic stay. West Pleasant and U.S. Home executed a Consent Order, in which West Pleasant dismissed its bankruptcy proceeding, waived a fair market valuation and its right to object to a sheriff’s sale of its property, and released U.S. Home from any claims in law or equity. U.S. Home never proceeded with any deficiency action against either landowner. Nonetheless, the landowners commenced the affirmative litigation that gave rise to this appeal, seeking a declaration that the arbitration award was fully satisfied, as well as compensation “in the amount of the excess fair market value of the properties obtained by defendant[] U.S. Home over the amount of its outstanding judgment.” The second property owner then assigned its rights to West Pleasant. After trial, the court valued the second property as worth almost $2.4 million and West Pleasant’s property as worth almost $2 million. The court ordered U.S. Home to pay the fair market value of the West Pleasant property, plus interest, and extinguished the arbitration award on the second property. On appeal, the Appellate Division determined that West Pleasant had waived its right to a fair market valuation on its property but that it was owed a fair market value credit for the second property. The Appellate Division remanded the matter to the trial court for recalculation of damages. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding use of fair market value credit by this debtor to obtain a money judgment against a creditor, in the absence of a deficiency claim threatened or pursued or any objection being raised at the time of the sheriff’s sales, was "inconsistent with sound foreclosure processes and, moreover, inequitable in the circumstances presented." The judgment of the Appellate Division was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "West Pleasant-CPGT, Inc. v. U.S. Home Corporation" on Justia Law

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Eskaton, Eskaton Village-Grass Valley (Eskaton Village), and Eskaton Properties Inc. (collectively, the Eskaton entities) were related corporations that developed and support common interest developments for older adults in Northern California. Ronald Coley owned a home in one of their developments, Eskaton Village Grass Valley (the Village). He brought this suit against the Village’s homeowners association, two of the directors on the association’s board, and the directors’ employers (the Eskaton entities), alleging these directors ran the association for the benefit of the Eskaton entities rather than the association and its members. The trial court agreed with Coley in part, finding these directors breached their fiduciary duty to the homeowners association and its members in several respects. In particular, the court found one director improperly shared with the Eskaton entities the association’s privileged communications with its counsel, and both directors, in violation of the association’s governing documents, approved certain assessments that benefited the Eskaton entities and harmed many of the association’s members. Based on this conduct, the court found the directors’ employers, the Eskaton entities, were liable for any damages Coley suffered as a result, though it declined to find the directors liable in their personal capacities. It awarded Coley damages of $2,328.51 and attorney fees of $654,242.53. Both parties appealed. The Eskaton entities and the two director defendants (collectively, the defendants) contended the court should have afforded the directors more deference under the business judgment rule. They also claimed the court misread the association’s governing documents, miscalculated appropriate damages, and misapplied vicarious- liability principles in finding the Eskaton entities liable for their employees’ conduct even though their employees were not liable themselves. In his cross-appeal, Coley argued the court should have found the two directors personally liable for their conduct, and alleged the court wrongly rejected several of his claims against the defendants. The Court of Appeal agreed in part with both of the parties: (1) the court miscalculated the damages on certain claims and should, after reducing the damages award on remand, reconsider the awarded attorney fees in light of this reduction; and (2) the court should have found the two directors personally liable for their actions. In all other respects, judgment was affirmed. View "Coley v. Eskaton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the tax court increasing the assessed unit value of a pipeline system for tax years 2015 and 2016, holding that the tax court did not err in its calculations for the cost indicator of value but erred in assigning equal weight to the cost and income indicators of value. On appeal, the taxpayer (1) challenged the tax court's market value determination, asserting that the court erred in its treatment of construction work in progress and external obsolescence in the computation of the cost indicator of value; and (2) challenged the weight that the court assigned to the cost indicator of value, as opposed to the income indicator, in determining the unit value of the pipeline system. The Supreme Court held that the tax court (1) did not err in its calculations for the cost indicator of value; but (2) erred by concluding that it had no discretion to adjust the default weightings prescribed by Minnesota Rule 8100.0300, subpart 5 for the cost and income indicators of value. View "Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Defendant Javier Torres signed a promissory note (Note) secured by a residential mortgage (Mortgage). Torres defaulted on the Note. CitiMortgage, Inc., discovered that it had lost the original Note but had retained a digital copy setting forth its terms. CitiMortgage assigned the Mortgage and its interest in the Note to plaintiff Investors Bank (Investors). In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review was whether Investors could enforce the Note. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court: Investors Bank could enforce the note. Relying on two statutes addressing assignments, N.J.S.A. 2A:25-1 and N.J.S.A. 46:9-9, as well as common-law assignment principles, the Court held Investors had the right as an assignee of the Mortgage and transferee of the Note to enforce the Note. The Court construed N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309 to address the rights of CitiMortgage as the possessor of a note or other instrument at the time that the instrument was lost, but not to supplant New Jersey assignment statutes and common law in the setting of this appeal or to preclude an assignee in Investors’ position from asserting its rights according to the Note’s terms. Read together, "N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309, N.J.S.A. 2A:25-1, and N.J.S.A. 46:9-9 clearly authorized the assignment and entitled Investors to enforce its assigned Mortgage and transferred Note." View "Investors Bank v. Torres" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Missoula County and declaring that the right-of-way next to Plaintiff's property extends from Rio Vista Drive to the Bitterroot River, as depicted in the subdivision plat, and provides legal access for the public to the river from Rio Vista Drive, holding that the district court did not err. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in determining that the public right-of-way from Rio Vista Drive extends to the banks of the Bitterroot River. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined, when taken together, the subdivision plat donating a right-of-way from Rio Vista Drive to the banks of the river and the Missoula County Board of Commissioners' acceptance of that right-of-way constitute an instrument of conveyance or deed of a right-of-way to Missoula County to hold the conveyance in trust for the public. View "Callsen v. Missoula County" on Justia Law