Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

by
In July 2009, JPMC Specialty Mortgage, LLC ("JPMC"), foreclosed on a property in Grand Bay, Alabama that had once been owned by the parents of Marian S.A. Tipp. Since that time, Tipp filed one lawsuit after another seeking to unravel that foreclosure and gain ownership of the property. After concluding that Tipp's claims in her most recent lawsuit were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, the applicable statutes of limitations, and Alabama's abatement statute, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of JPMC. Because of Tipp's history of litigation against JPMC, the trial court also entered a permanent injunction that prohibited her from initiating any further proceedings related to the foreclosure of the Grand Bay property without first obtaining permission from that court. Tipp appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Tipp v. JPMC Specialty Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Sandra Gleason filed suit against Charles Halsey and Jim McDonough d/b/a Jim McDonough Home Inspection ("McDonough"), seeking to recover for damage that Gleason allegedly incurred as a result of defendants' allegedly negligent and/or fraudulent conduct associated with Gleason's purchase of a house from Halsey and McDonough's inspection of the house. Although Gleason's claims against Halsey and McDonough involve different legal theories, the issue underlying the claims was essentially the same: whether the house was inspected. The issue underlying Gleason's claims against Halsey was whether McDonough's inspection of the house could be credited to Gleason for purposes of determining whether Gleason may assert an argument under the health or safety exception to the doctrine of caveat emptor; the issue underlying Gleason's claims against McDonough appeared to be whether McDonough owed Gleason a duty in inspecting the house or in consulting with Gleason as she personally inspected the house. The Alabama Supreme Court found that Gleason's claims against Halsey, the judgment on which was certified as final under Rule 54(b), and Gleason's claims against McDonough that remain pending in the circuit court "are so closely intertwined that separate adjudication would pose an unreasonable risk of inconsistent results." As a result, the Court concluded that the circuit court exceeded its discretion in certifying the June 23, 2021, order granting Halsey's summary-judgment motion as final. The Court therefore dismissed the appeal. View "Gleason v. Halsey" on Justia Law

by
Capitol Farmers Market, Inc., appealed a circuit court order entered in favor of Angie and Russell Ingram, enforcing certain restrictive covenants on property owned by Capitol Farmers Market that abutted property owned by the Ingrams. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court determined the trial court did not err in upholding the restrictive covenants found in the respective property declarations. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Capitol Farmers Market, Inc. v. Ingram" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that the contractual default interest rate applied in this dispute over the redemption of farmland and affirmed the court of appeals' decision requiring timely full payment of the amount necessary, holding that remand was required in this case.An attorney representing an investor underpaid the amount necessary to redeem farmland by at least $1,798 below the minimum owed. After concluding that the redemption was timely the district court resolved the parties' dispute over the interest rate by ruling that the contract default rate of twenty-one percent controlled, not the 4.25 percent nondefault rate. The court of appeals affirmed the twenty-one percent interest rate but concluded that the attempted redemption was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals and declined to grant equitable relief, holding that the court of appeals correctly held that the attempted redemption failed as untimely. View "Great Western Bank v. Clement" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court remanded this case to the Leeward Planning Commission (LPC) for proceedings consistent with this opinion, holding that the LPC and the Planning Director of the County of Hawai'i wrongfully denied The Community Associations of Haualali (Hualalai) a hearing and decision on its petition to intervene as a party to contest a special permit application.The special permit application at issue requested approval to use an agricultural parcel of land as an equipment base yard and security dwelling and for stockpiling and crushing natural materials for commercial use. Hualalai, a group of Hawaii County community associations, filed a "Petition for Standing in a Contested Case Hearing," or petition to intervene. The petition was denied. Hualalai appealed, challenging the LPC's failure to issue a decision on Hualalai's petition and objecting to the decision to treat the proceeding as a closed matter. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that the actions in this case were made upon unlawful procedure and constituted abuses of discretion. View "Community Ass'ns of Hualalai, Inc. v. Leeward Planning Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Tax sharing agreements between the County of San Benito and the City of Hollister require the city to pay the county a fixed fee (the “Additional Amount”) for each residential unit constructed on land that is annexed into the city from the county. Plaintiff entered into development agreements with the city to build residential units on land subject to the city-county tax sharing agreements, and agreed to satisfy certain obligations from the tax sharing agreements, but sued the city and the county seeking a declaration that payment of the Additional Amount is not among plaintiff’s obligations.The court of appeal affirmed a defense judgment. The plaintiff agreed to pay the city the Additional Amount fees as part of the development agreements. Nothing in the tax sharing agreement suggests that obligations created by it would cease to exist merely because a project annexed during its effective period was not constructed until after the agreement expired. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that because the Additional Amount is an obligation of the city to the county under the tax sharing agreement, it cannot be a “Developer’s obligation.” The reference to “Developer’s obligations” in the development agreement did not mean only the capital improvement and drainage fees discussed in the tax sharing agreement; the term includes the Additional Amount. View "Award Homes, Inc. v. County of San Benito" on Justia Law

by
A tax-sharing agreement between the County of San Benito and the City of Hollister requires the city to pay the county a fixed fee (Additional Amount) per residential unit constructed on land annexed into the city from the county during the period covered by that agreement. Plaintiff’s predecessor entered into an annexation agreement with the city, agreeing to comply with “all applicable provisions” of that tax sharing agreement. When the plaintiff purchased the annexed land and sought to develop it into subdivisions, the city informed the plaintiff that it was liable for the Additional Amount fees. Plaintiff paid the fees under protest, then sued, seeking a declaration of its rights and duties under various written instruments.The court of appeal affirmed a defense judgment. Plaintiff is contractually liable for the Additional Amount by the terms of the annexation agreement. Any challenge to the calculation of the Additional Amount is beyond the scope of a declaratory relief action and time-barred. The court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that neither the annexation agreement nor the tax sharing agreement requires the plaintiff to pay the Additional Amount and that the fees violate the Mitigation Fee Act and federal constitutional constraints on development fees as monetary exactions. View "BMC Promise Way, LLC v. County of San Benito" on Justia Law

by
In consolidated appeals, the issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on the Commonwealth Court’s holding that, to be held liable for damages under Pennsylvania’s inverse condemnation statute, an entity had to be "clothed with the power of eminent domain" to the property at issue. In 2009, Appellee, UGI Storage Company filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission” or “FERC”), seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity to enable it to acquire and operate certain natural gas facilities. Appellee wished to acquire and operate underground natural gas storage facilities, which the company referred to as the Meeker storage field. Appellee also sought to include within the certificated facilities a 2,980-acre proposed "buffer zone." FERC ultimately granted the application for Appellee to acquire and assume the operation of the Meeker storage field, but denied Appellee’s request to certificate the buffer zone. Appellants petitioned for the appointment of a board of viewers to assess damages for an alleged de facto condemnation of their property, alleging that though their properties had been excluded by FERC from the certificated buffer zone, they interpreted Appellee’s response to the Commission’s order as signaling its intention to apply for additional certifications to obtain property rights relative to the entire buffer zone. The common pleas court initially found that a de facto taking had occurred and appointed a board of viewers to assess damages. Appellee lodged preliminary objections asserting Appellants’ petition was insufficient to support a de facto taking claim. The Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court: "we do not presently discern a constitutional requirement that a quasi-public entity alleged to have invoked governmental power to deprive landowners of the use and enjoyment of their property for a public purpose must be invested with a power of eminent domain in order to be held to account for a de facto condemnation. ... a public or quasi-public entity need not possess a property-specific power of eminent domain in order to implicate inverse condemnation principles." The case was remanded for the Commonwealth Court to address Appellants’ challenge to the common pleas court’s alternative disposition (based upon the landowners’ purported off-the-record waiver of any entitlement to an evidentiary hearing), which had been obviated by the intermediate court’s initial remand decision and that court’s ensuing affirmance of the re-dismissal of Appellants’ petitions. View "Albrecht, et al. v. UGI Storage Co. et al." on Justia Law

by
In this property dispute, the Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to the Hogback Ranches Property Owners Improvement and Service District (HRISD) on the issue of whether HRISD violated the Hoback Ranches subdivision's protective covenants by installing wire fencing around the subdivision's perimeter and otherwise affirmed, holding that the district court erred in part.Plaintiffs, who resided in the subdivision, brought suit against HRISD and their neighbor, Michael Jerup, alleging, inter alia, that HRISD violated the subdivision’s protective covenants with its perimeter fence and that Jerup violated the covenants by conducting commercial activity on his property. HRISD and Jerup counterclaimed, alleging that Plaintiffs violated the protective covenants by installing wood posts set in concrete. The district court (1) granted summary judgment to HRISD on Plaintiffs' claims; (2) granted summary judgment to HRISD and Jerup on their counterclaim; and (3) entered judgment for Jerup on Plaintiffs' claim. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's summary judgment to HRISD on the perimeter fence issue and otherwise affirmed, holding that the district court erred in deciding that a buck and pole fence covenant did not apply to the subdivision's perimeter fence. View "Winney v. Hoback Ranches Property Owners Improvement & Service District" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the circuit court and granting Plaintiffs' motion for attorney's fees on appeal, holding that the ICA should have limited its appellate attorney's fees.Plaintiffs alleged that their neighbor, Defendant, was in breach of a restrictive covenant contained in the parties' subdivision's declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions stating that trees and shrubs on every lot shall be maintained at a reasonable height. After a trial, the circuit court ordered Defendant not to maintain any plants on her property at a height not to exceed the roofline of her residence. The court awarded Plaintiffs $40,000 in damages plus attorney's fees. The ICA affirmed and granted Plaintiffs' motion for attorney's fees on appeal. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment in part, holding (1) the ICA should have limited its appellate attorney's fees to twenty-five percent of the damages award Plaintiffs received; and (2) the ICA did not otherwise err. View "Gailliard v. Rawsthorne" on Justia Law