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Western Energy Corporation appealed a district court judgment finding its quiet title action to be barred by applicable statutes of limitation and laches and awarding the mineral interests at issue to the Stauffers. In 1959, L.M. and C.S. Eckmann agreed to convey property to William and Ethel Stauffer through a contract for deed. The contract for deed included a reservation of the oil, gas, and other mineral rights in the property and described a five-year payment plan. After the payment plan concluded in 1964, the Eckmanns were to convey the property to the Stauffers by warranty deed. The warranty deed did not contain a mineral reservation, but stated that it was given "in fulfillment of a contract for deed issued on the 25th of May, 1959." Numerous conveyances, oil and gas leases, and similar transactions were completed by both the Eckmanns and Stauffers, as well as their successors in interest, between the execution of the warranty deed in 1959 and the filing of this quiet title action in 2016. Western Energy Corporation ("Western") obtained its interests in the subject minerals through mineral deeds executed in 1989 and 1990. The original parties to the warranty deed are all now deceased. Western filed this action to quiet title in 2016. Western and the Stauffers submitted stipulated facts to the district court. Although brought as a quiet title action, the relief requested was actually reformation of the warranty deed. The district court found reformation barred by the statutes of limitation as well as by the doctrine of laches. Further, the district court concluded the discrepancy between the contract for deed and the warranty deed was not enough to establish mutual mistake. Because it found that Western had not met its burden of proof to establish mutual mistake at the time of conveyance, the district court entered judgment quieting title of the minerals to the Stauffers. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Western Energy Corporation v. Stauffer" on Justia Law

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George Seccombe and other heirs of Olaf Nasset ("Nasset heirs") and the intervener plaintiffs, Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc., appealed a judgment deciding ownership of certain minerals in Mountrail County, North Dakota. Olaf Nasset died in November 1961, and Lakeside State Bank, as executor of his estate, petitioned the county court for authority to sell real property belonging to the estate. On August 6, 1962, the county court ordered the final discharge of the executor. A few days later, the executor petitioned to re-open the estate because reserved mineral interests were inadvertently left out of the final decree and it was necessary that the estate be reopened for the sole purpose of correcting the error by entering an amended final decree of distribution including the 1/2 mineral interest. The county court granted the petition. On August 10, 1962, an amended final decree of distribution was entered, stating each of the five named heirs received a 1/10 mineral interest. In 2012, the Nasset heirs sued the heirs of Gilbert Rohde and other parties claiming an interest in the minerals through the Rohde heirs. The Nasset heirs sought to quiet title and determine ownership of the minerals, revision of the executor's deed, and damages for a slander of title claim. They alleged the original heirs of Olaf Nasset intended to reserve a one-half mineral interest and they are entitled to receive legal title to one-half of the minerals as provided in the published notice of sale of the real property and the amended executor's deed. The Nasset heirs also sued Lakeside for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging Lakeside had fiduciary obligations to the estate, it was aware or should have been aware of the heirs' intention to retain a one-half mineral interest, and it breached its fiduciary duty by executing the executor's deed to Gilbert Rohde without properly reserving the mineral interests.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Rohde heirs and against the Nasset heirs, quieted title in favor of the Rohde heirs, and dismissed the Nasset heirs' claim for slander of title. The district court concluded the Rohde heirs own the minerals because the original executor's deed approved by the court was final, a legal action was required to undo the executor's deed, neither the heirs nor the executor commenced an action to correct or vacate the deed, and therefore the subsequent orders and the amended deed had no effect. The court also concluded the Nasset heirs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Seccombe v. Rohde" on Justia Law

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Defendant Lisa Jacobs appealed both a jury verdict and a permanent injunction issued by the trial court in favor of plaintiffs Lorraine and Peter MacDonald. Defendant seasonally resided in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. According to plaintiffs, in 2012 they purchased a vacation home that abuts or was near defendant’s family’s property. Thereafter, defendant began letter-writing campaigns in which she falsely accused plaintiffs of, among other things, a variety of illegal activities. In 2016, plaintiffs sued defendant for defamation. Following a trial, the jury found that defendant’s statements were defamatory and that they were made with malice, thereby warranting the award of special damages. In addition, the trial court, finding defendant’s statements “vast and disturbing,” issued a permanent injunction prohibiting defendant from, inter alia, going within a five-mile radius of plaintiffs’ home in Fitzwilliam and from entering plaintiffs’ hometown in Sterling, Massachusetts. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred by: (1) denying a mistrial when plaintiffs’ counsel made a “golden rule” argument to the jury; (2) denying her motion for summary judgment because New Hampshire required proof of “actual damages” for defamation; (3) applying an incorrect standard to plaintiffs’ claim for enhanced compensatory damages; (4) determining that defendant’s speech was not of “public concern;” (5) admitting prejudicial other bad act evidence; and (6) “ordering [her] physical removal . . . from her family’s vacation property” in Fitzwilliam and “banishing” her from Sterling. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "MacDonald v. Jacobs" on Justia Law

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Websites like Airbnb serve as intermediaries, providing homeowners a forum for advertising short-term rentals of their homes and helping prospective renters find rooms and houses for temporary stays. Chicago’s 2016 Shared Housing Ordinance requires interested hosts to acquire a business license; its standards include geographic eligibility requirements, restrictions on how many units within a larger building can be rented, and a list of buildings where such rentals are prohibited. Approved hosts are subject to health, safety, and reporting requirements, including supplying clean linens and sanitized cooking utensils, disposing of waste and leftover food, and reporting illegal activity known to have occurred within a rented unit. Keep Chicago Livable and six individuals challenged the Ordinance. The Seventh Circuit remanded for a determination of standing, stating that it was not clear that any plaintiff had pleaded or established sufficient injury to confer subject matter jurisdiction to proceed to the merits. The individual owners did not allege with particularity how the Ordinance (and not some other factor) is hampering any of their home-sharing activities; the out-of-town renters did not convey with sufficient clarity whether they still wish to visit Chicago and, if so, how the Ordinance is inhibiting them. All Keep Chicago Livable contends is that the alleged uncertainty around the Ordinance’s constitutionality burdens its education and advocacy mission; it does not allege that it engages in activity regulated by the Ordinance. View "Keep Chicago Livable v. Chicago" on Justia Law

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Fla. Stat. 95.231, which operates to cure certain defective deeds after the passage of five years, applies to a parcel on which the United States has asserted a federal estate-tax lien. The Eleventh Circuit held that section 95.231(1) cured the deed by operation of law in December 2003, and the property was at that point validly transferred to the trust. Furthermore, the court held that United States v. Summerlin, 310 U.S. 414, 416 (1940), was inapplicable here because, by the time the United States asserted its tax lien, the property no longer remained in the estate. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the United States' foreclosure claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Saccullo v. United States" on Justia Law

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Loren Prout filed an inverse condemnation action alleging Department of Transportation (Caltrans) violated the Fifth Amendment in 2010 by physically occupying without compensation a long, narrow strip of Prout’s land fronting California Highway 12, to make highway improvements. The land taken was a 1.31-acre strip, 20 feet wide and about 6,095 feet long. Caltrans cross-complained for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and specific performance, alleging Prout agreed to dedicate the strip by deed for highway purposes 20 years earlier when he obtained an encroachment permit for a subdivision he was developing. Prout’s subdivision map stated the strip of land fronting Highway 12, shown by hash marks on the map, was “IN THE PROCESS OF BEING DEEDED TO CALTRANS FOR HIGHWAY PURPOSES.” No deed was ever signed or recorded. After a bench trial on the bifurcated issue of liability, the trial court found Caltrans validly accepted the offer of dedication by physically occupying the strip for its highway improvements, and the court awarded specific performance on Caltrans’s cross-complaint and ordered Prout to execute a deed. On appeal, Prout claims the evidence is insufficient to support the trial court’s finding that he agreed to dedicate the entire strip of land, as opposed to just a small area needed to connect the subdivision’s private road to the state highway. The Court of Appeal concluded Prout’s challenge was barred by his failure to file a timely petition for writ of mandamus, and his inverse condemnation claim failed because substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Prout made an offer to dedicate the entire strip of land in 1990 and did not revoke the offer before Caltrans accepted it by physically using the strip to make highway improvements in 2010-2011. View "Prout v. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over a claim by former tenants for relocation benefits after the City of Topeka negotiated and acquired property where the tenants operated their businesses the Supreme Court rejected the tenants’ contention that displaced persons are owed relocation benefits under Kan. Stat. Ann. 26-518(a) any time a condemning authority acquires real property for a public project. Under section 26-518(a), when real property is acquired by a condemning authority through negotiation in advance of a condemnation action or through a condemnation action, the authority must pay recreation benefits to any person who moves from the property as a result of the acquisition. At issue was the definition of the statutory phrase “negotiation in advance of a condemnation action.” The district court held that the tenants in the instant case were not displaced persons as defined by law and that the property acquisition was not made “in advance of a condemnation action.” The court of appeals reversed in part. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that whether a negotiation was in advance of a condemnation action is a question of fact to be established by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Nauheim v. City of Topeka" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Quentin White filed an action to quiet title against defendants Brigitte Auger (formerly Gaudreau) and Joanne Jackson (formerly Labadie). In the spring of 1968, White met Perley Swett, the “Taylor Pond Hermit,” and explained that he needed food. White and his family provided that food. White refused payment from Swett; this gesture started an enduring friendship. Over the years, White helped Swett deliver gifts of money or deeds of land to people in the community — mostly to local children. Auger was one of the local children who repeatedly benefited from Swett’s generosity; at one point, Swett told Auger that he would give her a horse and some land. Swett often attempted to pay White for, in Swett’s words, his "services." White always refused payment, feeling that it was his neighborly duty to help. At one point, Swett attempted to give White a deed for a large parcel of land. After a heated discussion, White tore up the deed. In 1972, Swett gave White the deed at issue in this appeal in exchange for White’s services. White accepted the deed but did not intend to record it. Swett died in 1973, and had appointed White as executor of his will, which included several bequests to White, including part of Swett's "home farm." The probate proceedings became contentious, and White resigned as executor. Prior to resignation, however, White recorded the 1972 deed and entered into a Stipulation with Swett’s estate and heirs, thereby relinquishing any of his claims under Swett’s will and in connection with any unrecorded deeds. In 2016, White attempted to sell the land in the 1972 deed; the sale fell through because the prospective buyer, having become aware of the references to Auger and Jackson in the 1972 deed, was concerned that White might not hold the title free and clear of Auger’s and Jackson’s interests. White then brought an action to quiet title against Auger and Jackson. Jackson defaulted; Auger contested the action and brought counterclaims against White. The trial court ruled in favor of Auger in the quiet title action, reasoning that the deed, properly interpreted, contemplated transferring ownership of the land to Auger in the event that White did not live on or build on the land within ten years. The trial court also ruled in favor of Auger on her declaratory judgment and specific performance counterclaims. This appeal followed. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's interpretation of the 1972 deed, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed quiet title in favor of Auger. View "White v. Auger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order affirming the findings and modifying a cease and desist order of the Lower Loup Natural Resources District (LLNRD) Board directing Appellant to suspend use of ground water wells, holding that LLNRD had authority to impose a suspension of ground water access for noncompliance with LLNRD’s annual reporting requirements. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in determining that LLNRD had authority to impose a suspension of ground water access for noncompliance with reporting requirements; (2) Appellant’s due process rights were not violated in the proceedings before the Board; (3) Appellant was not denied the possibility of competent judicial review; (4) the suspension of Appellant’s ground water access was not a taking without just compensation; (5) the district court did not err in declining to supplement LLNRD’s record and receive exhibits 4 and 5; (6) Appellant was not entitled to attorney fees because he was not the prevailing party; and (7) the district court did not err in its modification of the duration of Appellant’s penalty. View "Prokop v. Lower Loup Natural Resources District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, opposed the development of an eight-unit multifamily residential building in a high-density residential district, challenged a resolution granting demolition and design review permits. They claimed the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA; Govt. Code, 21000) because the city council failed to consider aspects of the project other than design review and that the city abused its discretion under CEQA by approving the demolition permit and design review without requiring an environmental impact report (EIR) based on its determination that the proposed project met the requirements for a Class 32 (infill) categorical exemption under CEQA Guidelines. The court of appeal affirmed. The city council properly limited the scope of its review as required by the ordinance, did not abdicate its duty to act, and did not delegate its ultimate duty to the planning commission. St. Helena's Municipal Code did not require the city council to consider the environmental consequences of a multi-family project in an HR district Because of that lack of any discretion to address environmental effects, it was unnecessary to rely on the Class 32 exemption. View "McCorkle Eastside Neighborhood Group v. St. Helena" on Justia Law