by
The Town of Belmont appealed a New Hampshire Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) decision that, pursuant to RSA 72:36-a (2012) respondent Robin M. Nordle 2013 Trust was entitled to a 100% real estate tax exemption for a homestead in Belmont. RSA 72:36-a provided that a person who met certain qualifications set forth in the statute, and “who owns a specially adapted homestead which has been acquired with the assistance of the Veterans Administration,” qualified for a property tax exemption. Louis Nordle served during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged in 1969. In 1998, Louis and his wife, Robin Nordle, purchased a summer camp in Belmont. In 2007, the Nordles demolished the original home and built a new home. The house was later transferred to the Robin M. Nordle 2013 Trust, in which Louis had a life estate in the trust and Robin was the trustee. In 2015, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs determined that Louis was totally and permanently disabled due to his service-connected disabilities. In 2016, Louis received a “Specially Adapted Housing Grant” from the Veterans Administration (VA), and used the funds to modify his home to accommodate his disability. The town originally denied Nordle's application for tax-exempt status, determining that the “home was not ‘acquired’ or ‘purchased’ by or with the assistance of a VA loan.” In making its determination, the town relied upon advice from the New Hampshire Department of Revenue that, in order to be entitled to the property tax exemption, the VA “had to help ‘purchase’ the home not adapt it.” The BTLA reasoned that “the word ‘acquired’ in the statute had a plain meaning broader than simply ‘purchased,’” and that because Louis “obtained, and is now in possession of, a specially adapted homestead . . . only because of the financial assistance he received from the VA,” the taxpayer was entitled to the tax exemption set forth in RSA 72:36-a. The New Hampshire Supreme Court determined that once the remodeling was completed, the taxpayer owned a specially adapted homestead which was “acquired with the assistance of the Veterans Administration.” and affirmed the BTLA’s determination that the taxpayer was entitled to a 100% real estate tax exemption for the homestead in Belmont. View "Appeal of Town of Belmont" on Justia Law

by
This case arose out of disputes between the parties involving a twelve year commercial lease of office space in Baltimore, Maryland. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court misconstrued the lease agreement and misapplied Maryland law in concluding that Montgomery Park had a duty to endeavor to relet the premises and minimize its damages as a condition precedent to recovering against NCO. The panel held that the lease agreement's language incorporated the common law mitigation-of-damages doctrine, which holds that a plaintiff cannot recover damages which it could have reasonably avoided. Therefore, Montgomery Park's recovery should only have been reduced by the amount of rent that NCO could demonstrate would have been recovered by reasonable efforts to re-let the space. The court also held that the district court, in evaluating the commercial reasonableness of Montgomery Park's mitigation efforts, applied the wrong standard. The court held that reasonable commercial efforts to mitigate damages did not require Montgomery Park to favor NCO’s space over other vacant space in the building, but rather, commercial reasonableness only required Montgomery Park to reasonably market NCO's space on an equal footing with the other spaces that it was seeking to rent. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "NCO Financial Systems, Inc. v. Montgomery Park, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court granting declaratory relief in favor Berkeley County on the County’s suit against the City of Martinsburg seeking a ruling that real property owned by the County but located within the City limits was not subject to the City’s zoning ordinances, holding that the circuit court’s order was advisory in that it lacked a justiciable controversy sufficient to confer jurisdiction under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act. In vacating the circuit court’s order, the Supreme Court noted that the complaint revealed no actual, justiciable controversy because there was no specific project, building, or property identified by the County. Rather, the underlying suit claimed to apply generally to all real property owned by the County that may be involved in future, unspecified projects. The Court held that, under these circumstances, the circuit court engaged in an academic exercise, and its order amounted to an advisory opinion and, therefore, must be vacated. View "City of Martinsburg v. Berkeley County Council" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court certifying as final the prior orders that granted summary judgment to Respondents in this civil action arising out of the modification of covenants pertaining to a residential subdivision developed by RJM Holdings, LLC, holding that the genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. On appeal, Petitioners argued that the circuit court erred by granting summary judgment because genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether Respondents were engaged in a joint venture with RJM to develop the subdivision and whether the corporate veils of the respondent businesses should be pierced to hold certain individuals personally liable. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed with respect to the conduct of Respondents and the use of the various business entities to develop the subdivision. View "Dailey v. RJM Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment to Respondents in this nuisance action against a shooting range, holding that because Petitioners’ plea for money damages accrued prior to the 2017 amendment of Va. Code 61-6-23, the Legislature could not retroactively bar Petitioners from pursuing their nuisance claim. Petitioners, who owned land in Frederick County, Virginia, sued Respondents for nuisance in 2015, claiming that noise from Respondents’ shooting ranges substantially and unreasonably interfered with their use and enjoyment of their rural property. In 2017, the legislature amended section 61-6-23 to bar nuisance claims against a shooting range if the range is in compliance with local noise ordinances. The legislature specified that the amendment applied retroactively. The circuit court dismissed Petitioners’ suit, concluding that the nuisance claim was retroactively barred. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court correctly applied the amendment to dismiss, retroactively, Petitioner’s nuisance claim seeking injunctive relief; but (2) because Petitioners’ plea for money damages accrued prior to the amendment, Petitioners’ right to pursue those damages was vested. The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the circuit court to resume proceedings in Petitioners’ nuisance claim for monetary damages. View "Goldstein v. Peacemaker Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that the Fee Exemption, a provision in Ind. Code 36-1-20-5 that allows the cities of Bloomington and West Lafayette to charge local landlords any amount to register rental properties, is unconstitutional special legislation that must be struck down but that the remainder of section 36-1-20-5 remains in force. While the Fee Exemption singles out the cities of Bloomington and West Lafayette for preferential treatment, all other Indiana localities are restricted to charging only $5 under another provision - the Fee Restriction - in section 36-1-20-5. The City of Hammond challenged the Fee Exemption as unconstitutional under Ind. Const. art. IV, 23. The Supreme Court agreed with the City and held that the Fee Exemption is unconstitutional but that the remainder of the statute, including the Fee Restriction, remained in effect and now operates statewide. View "City of Hammond v. Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Box Elder on William Maher’s claim that the City negligently operated its water system and caused his waterlines to break, holding that the public duty rule did not apply in this case. In moving for summary judgment, the City argued that the public duty rule precluded imposition of a duty because Maher failed to establish that the City owed him a special duty. The circuit court agreed with the City and granted summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the public duty rule did not apply in this case; and (2) the City owed Maher a duty to use reasonable care in its operation of its water system. View "Maher v. City of Box Elder" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court quieting title to certain land in Terry and Linda Brown after finding that the Browns established their entitlement to the disputed land by adverse possession, holding that the Browns’ interest in the disputed land began with permission and did not ripen into adverse possession. On appeal, the State argued that the district court erred when it found that the Browns’ evidence satisfied their burden of proof and established their entitlement to the disputed land by adverse possession. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that where the Browns’ use of the disputed land began with permission of a lease, the Browns failed to establish that their possession of the disputed land was under a claim of ownership, and therefore, their possession did not ripen into title by adverse possession. View "Brown v. Jacobsen Land & Cattle Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court setting aside a nonjudicial foreclosure sale by a unit-owners’ association (UOA), holding that title vested in the purchaser’s name and that there were no equitable grounds to set aside the sale. At issue in this appeal was whether a person conducting a sale under Nev. Rev. Stat. 116, governing nonjudicial foreclosure sales by a UOA, has the discretion to refuse to issue a foreclosure deed to the highest bidder at the sale after payment has been made when it is later determined that the delinquency amount may have been paid by the property owner before the sale. The Supreme Court held (1) each party in a quiet title action has the burden of demonstrating superior title in himself; (2) once a bid is accepted and payment is made, the foreclosure sale is complete and title vests in the purchaser; and (3) the standard for determining whether to set aside a sale on equitable grounds is whether there has been a showing of fraud, unfairness, or oppression affecting the sale. In the instant case, the purchaser in this case demonstrated superior title, and there were no equitable grounds to set aside the sale. View "Resources Group, LLC v. Nevada Ass’n Services, Inc" on Justia Law

by
John and Cindy Henderson filed suit against Copper Ridge Homes (“Copper Ridge”) and First Bank regarding the construction of their new home in Magnolia, Mississippi. The case quickly spiraled into foreclosure proceedings upon the Hendersons’ defaulting on their loan with First Bank. The judge granted First Bank’s motion for judicial foreclosure. After that, the Hendersons unsuccessfully moved multiple times to amend their complaint to add wrongful foreclosure. The judge granted Copper Ridge’s and First Bank’s motions for summary judgment on the Hendersons’ claims, finding that the claims, which arose from the alleged faulty construction of the house traveled with the title to the property. Because the Hendersons no longer owned any interest in the house and land, the judge found that they had lost their right to seek damages. On appeal, the Hendersons argued the trial court erred by granting First Bank a judicial foreclosure, by granting Copper Ridge’s and First Bank’s motions for summary judgment, and by denying their motions for leave to amend and to add wrongful foreclosure to their complaint. Finding that the trial court erred in granting Copper Ridge’s and First Bank’s post-foreclosure motions for dismissal of the Hendersons’ claims, The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the grant of judicial foreclosure, reversed the grant of summary judgment to both parties, and remanded the case to the trial court for determination of the Hendersons’ claims. View "Henderson v. Copper Ridge Homes, LLC" on Justia Law