Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the trial court's judgment denying Plaintiff's claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11 and affirmed the remainder of the judgment, holding that the judge erred in instructing the jury under section 11.The attorney defendants in this case misappropriated propriety materials from their employer during their employment and subsequently used those materials to compete with their former employer. A jury found Defendants liable on claims for conversion, conspiracy, and breach of the duty of loyalty. The jury denied relief on the plaintiff employer's claims for unfair or deceptive trade practices, in violation of section 11. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that Defendants may be liable for unfair or deceptive trade practices, and the judge erred in instructing the jury that Defendants' conduct before leaving their employer was not relevant to Plaintiff's claim under section 11. View "Governo Law Firm LLC v. Bergeron" on Justia Law

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After BANA canceled the foreclosure sale of plaintiff's residence, he filed an amended complaint alleging claims of wrongful foreclosure, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), and negligent misrepresentation. The district court denied BANA's motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim and denied plaintiff's request for leave to file an amended complaint, entering an order dismissing the case with prejudice.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, construing plaintiff's pro se motion for a temporary restraining order as a petition initiating a civil action against BANA under Missouri law, and determining that plaintiff's conduct throughout the course of litigation amounts to an acknowledgement that his filing before the St. Louis County Circuit Court was both a motion and a petition. The court explained that when the district court dissolved the temporary restraining order, a live case and controversy remained in the form of plaintiff's claims. Therefore, this case is not moot. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's negligent misrepresentation claim for failure to state a claim. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to again amend his complaint. View "Rivera v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

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In this contract dispute involving the correct interpretation of a mineral lease's "continuous drilling program" provision the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in reversing partial summary judgment for the lessee on the contract-construction issue.Lessor and Lessee were the successors-in-interest to an oil-and-gas top lease covering a 30,450-acre parcel of land. At the end of the primary term, Lessee was required to reassign to Lessor all of Lessee's operating rights in each tract of the lease not then held by production unless Lessee was engaged in a "continuous drilling program." Notwithstanding Lessee's continued drilling operations, Lessor filed a suit seeking a declaration that the lease had terminated. The trial court granted partial summary judgment for Lessor, concluding that the lease had not terminated as to non-producing tracts. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the lease's special definition of drilling operations, activities other than spudding-in a well are sufficient to maintain the lease as to non-producing tracts; and (2) the record conclusively established that Lessee was engaged in a continuous drilling program within the meaning of the lease. View "Sundown Energy LP v. HJSA No. 3" on Justia Law

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Cases consolidated for review by the Idaho Supreme Court were appeals of three separate judgments ejecting three non-beneficiary parties from the property of an estate. The personal representative of the Estate of Victoria H. Smith (“the Estate”) brought three separate ejectment actions against the Law Office of Vernon K. Smith, LLC, and Vernon K. Smith Law, PC (collectively “VK Law”); David R. Gibson; and Vernon K. Smith, III (“Vernon III”), after each party refused his demands to vacate their respectively occupied properties. None of the parties were beneficiaries of the Estate. The district courts granted partial judgment on the pleadings in favor of the personal representative in all three actions, entering separate judgments ejecting Gibson, Vernon III, and VK Law from the Estate’s properties. On appeal, Appellants raised numerous issues relating to the personal representative’s authority to eject them from the properties. Ford Elsaesser, the personal representative of the Estate, argued on appeal that the district courts did not err in granting partial judgment on the pleadings because he had sufficient power over Estate property to bring an ejectment action on the Estate’s behalf. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Elsaesser v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the court of appeals dismissing for lack of jurisdiction Steven Clason's appeal of a district court order denying his request to quiet title to certain property in his name, holding that the order was not appealable because not all counterclaims were resolved.Clason owned property that was sold to Producers Livestock Credit Corporation (PLCC) after Clason defaulted on his loan payments. Clason refused to surrender the property to PLCC and filed a complaint alleging that the purported sale of the property to PLCC was void. Clason requested that the court enter an order quieting title to the property in him. PLCC filed a counterclaim and requested that Clason's complaint be dismissed. The district court entered judgment in favor of PLCC and against Clason, dismissed the case with prejudice, and ordered that title be quieted in PLCC. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's order was not appealable because not all of PLCC's counterclaims were resolved. View "Clason v. LOL Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the findings of the county court in this division fence dispute, holding that the county court order was a conditional order from which no appeal could be taken, and therefore, the district court and this Court did not acquire jurisdiction.The parties in this case owned adjacent properties on which cattle grazed. Plaintiffs filed a fence dispute complaint in the county court seeking contribution in connection with the planned construction of a fence on a portion of the boundary between the parties' property. The county court ordered Defendants to perform or monetarily contribute to the construction of a division fence between the properties. The district court affirmed the county court's findings and remanded the matter for further proceedings on the issue of contribution. The Supreme Court dismissed Defendants' appeal, holding that the county court's order was a conditional order and, as such, was not appealable to the district court. View "Evert v. Srb" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court denying Plaintiff's claim in conciliation court against Defendants seeking replevin of her dog Oliver on the grounds that Plaintiff had abandoned Oliver, holding that, under Minn. Stat. 345.75, Plaintiff did not abandon her dog.At issue was whether section 345.75, which governs the abandonment of tangible personal property, abrogates by implication the common law governing the abandoning of tangible personal property. The court of appeals held that section 345.75 abrogated the common law of abandonment of tangible personal property by necessary implication. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) section 345.75 does not abrogate by implication the common law of abandonment of tangible personal property; and (2) Plaintiff did not abandon her dog under the statue, and the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff abandoned her dog under the common law. View "Zephier v. Agate" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) finding that David and Gale Collison were not entitled to a sales tax credit following their purchase of a vehicle to replace another vehicle declared a casualty loss by their insurance company, holding that the Collisons could not prevail in this matter.In denying the requested sales tax credit the AHC found that a revocable trust, not the Collisons, owned the new vehicle and that the Collisions, and not the revocable trust, owned the replaced vehicle. On appeal, the Collisons argued that they and the revocable trust were the same owner of the separate vehicles and the same entity for purposes of the sales tax credit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Missouri law clearly considers a trust and the natural persons who create and control the trust to be separate and distinct entities, the Collisons and their revocable trust were legally separate owners. View "Collison v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In 2015, Michael and Sonja Saltman sold a vacant lot in Park City, Utah, to Curt Marcantel. Marcantel pushed to close the deal quickly, but at the time of the sale, the Saltmans knew something that Marcantel didn’t: a ten-foot wide sewer easement (including a sewer pipe within it) ran under a portion of the property, rendering infeasible Marcantel's plans to redevelop the property. The Saltmans did not tell Marcantel about the pipe, and the company Marcantel hired discover the easement did not find it. Because of an indexing error by the county recorder, at least three different title companies on four separate occasions failed to find and note the sewer easement on the property. Marcantel first heard about the easement when his prospective buyer alerted him to it; that buyer fortuitously learned of the easement from a neighboring property owner. The prospective buyer then balked at Marcantel’s asking price. Marcantel eventually sold the lot at a significant loss. Marcantel sued the Saltmans for, among other things, fraudulent nondisclosure and breach of the parties’ real estate purchase contract, arguing the Saltmans’ silence breached their contractual and common-law duties to disclose the easement. The Saltmans claimed they had assumed Marcantel knew about the easement, and in any event, Marcantel had constructive notice of the easement because it was publicly recorded. The district court granted the Saltmans summary judgment on all Marcantel’s claims. On appeal, Marcantel argued the district court repeatedly misapplied Utah law and disregarded summary-judgment procedure that required it to draw inferences in Marcantel’s favor. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed, reversing in part the trial court's grant of summary judgment, but affirmed in all other respects. View "Marcantel v. Michael & Sonja Saltman Family" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus and a writ of prohibition against Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Daniel R. Hawkins, holding that the court of appeals correctly dismissed the cause for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.CitiMortgage Inc. brought a foreclosure action against Appellant, and the trial court granted summary judgment to CitiMortgage. After a trial on damages, the trial court entered a judgment on directed verdict in the full amount owed as claimed by CitiMortgage. Appellant later brought this action alleging, among other things, that alleged defects in the foreclosure case stripped the trial court of jurisdiction. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy by defending the foreclosure action and appealing the trial court's adverse judgment. View "State ex rel. Nyamusevya v. Hawkins" on Justia Law