Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Donna Fisher lived in a mobilehome located in The Groves mobilehome residential community in Irvine, California. In 2011, Fisher filed a verified assessment appeal application with the Assessment Appeals Board No. 3 (the Board) for the County of Orange (the County) contesting the County Assessor’s assessment of the value of the land upon which her mobilehome was sitting for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. She argued the property had suffered a decline in value. Following extensive hearings, the Board issued its findings of fact and determination denying Fisher’s application. Fisher filed suit against the County to challenge the Board’s decision and sought a refund for overpayment of taxes in the amount of $739 for the underlying real property of her mobilehome. Following trial, the trial court issued a statement of decision rejecting Fisher’s challenges to the Board’s findings of fact and determination and entered judgment in favor of the County. Fisher again appealed, but the Court of Appeal affirmed, finding no reversible error. View "Fisher v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (“PEDF”) challenged for the third time, the use of proceeds from oil and gas leasing on the Commonwealth’s forest and park lands as violative of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, also known as the Environmental Rights Amendment. (“Section 27” or “ERA”). In previous trips before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, PEDF challenged several 2009-2025 budgetary provisions enacted challenging the use of proceeds from oil and gas leasing on the Commonwealth’s forest and park lands as violative of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, also known as the Environmental Rights Amendment. (“Section 27” or “ERA”). In the first two cases, PEDF challenged several 2009-2015 budgetary provisions enacted in the wake of dramatic increases in oil and gas revenue resulting from Marcellus Shale exploration in Pennsylvania. Applying trust principles, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the budgetary provisions violated Section 27 by utilizing the oil and gas revenue for non-trust purposes via transfers to the General Fund. PEDF v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911 (Pa. 2017) (“PEDF II”); PEDF v. Commonwealth, 255 A.3d 289 (Pa. 2021) (“PEDF V”). The underlying case here was one for a declaratory judgment, and named the Commonwealth and Governor as parties. Here, PEDF raised numerous constitutional challenges to provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2017 and 2018, as well as the 2017 Fiscal Code amendments, all of which were enacted after the Supreme Court’s decision in PEDF II. After review , the Supreme Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court, whilst rejecting that court;s analysis derived from PEDF III. View "PA Enviro Defense Fdn, Aplt. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the judgment of the Board of County Commissioners of Park County approving Trial County Telephone Association, Inc.'s (TCT) application for a special use permit to construct a 150-foot broadband communications tower in Park County, holding that the Board did not arbitrarily or capriciously in approving the application.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Board had a rational basis to conclude that the proposed was not oversized, and therefore, the Board's approval of TCT's application did not violate Park County development regulations; and (2) the Park County regulations did not require the Board to consider alternative sites for a project before approving a special use permit, and it therefore did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in approving the application without considering alternative locations for the proposed tower. View "Jolovich v. Board of County Commissioners of Park County" on Justia Law

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Village Green at Sayville, LLC sued the Town of Islip, its Town Board, its Planning Board, and the members of the Town and Planning Boards, alleging that a pattern of racial, ethnic, and national origin discrimination by Defendants stifled Village Green’s effort to build an affordable apartment complex in Sayville, a hamlet in Islip. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Village Green’s land-use claims were not ripe under the framework established by Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172 (1985).The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s ruling. In addressing only the narrow issue of ripeness, the court explained that federal suits in the land-use context, like this one, are generally not ripe for adjudication until a landowner receives a final, definitive decision on a land-use application. The court wrote that it need not speculate why the Town Board would decide to deny the application without a formal vote and forswear further public proceedings. However, taking as true the material factual allegations in the complaint such a decision was made. If a dispute can ripen when a municipal entity uses “repetitive and unfair procedures” to avoid a final decision, it surely ripens when, as here, the entity makes plain that it has reached a decision that, by all accounts, it intends to be final. The court concluded that Village Green’s claims are ripe because the rejection of Village Green’s application inflicted a concrete and particularized injury, not one that is merely speculative and may never occur. View "Village Green at Sayville, LLC v. Town of Islip et al." on Justia Law

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Phillip and Anna Kennedy contracted with DIMA Homes, Inc., to build a house on property they owned in Marion County, Mississippi. The Kennedys failed to pay DIMA, and DIMA obtained a judgment, which it properly enrolled, creating a judgment lien on the property. The Kennedys then failed to pay property taxes, and in 2016, the land was sold at a tax sale to ACC Tax Sales Property, LLC. HL&C Marion, LCC, obtained the property from ACC. DIMA did not receive notice of the tax sale. In 2019, HL&C filed suit to quiet title. The chancery court ruled that the failure to give written notice of the sale to DIMA resulted in an extension of the two-year redemption period and set aside the tax sale. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the chancellor, and holding that no legal authority required notice of the tax sale to have been given to DIMA. Accordingly, judgment is rendered in favor of HL&C Marion. View "HL&C Marion, LLC v. DIMA Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motion filed by the Word Seed Church after the district court dismissed this suit for lack of standing, holding that Word Seed failed to show exceptional circumstances warranting relief from the denial of that motion.Word Seed and an organization to which it belonged (collectively, Word Seed) brought this action against the Village of Homewood, Illinois alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of standing after concluding that Word Seed did not suffer an injury and denied Word Seed's ensuing motions to reconsider. In the second motion, which the district court considered under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), Word Seed raised for the first an argument that could have been raised before the district court entered judgment dismissing the case. The district court denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Word Seed's Rule 60(b) motion. View "Word Seed Church v. Village of Homewood" on Justia Law

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Blayne Puklich and Elyse Puklich were the children of Stan Puklich, who owned and operated an automobile dealership before his death. The dispute arose from the parties’ ownership of various business interests they either purchased or received from their father. Puklich Chevrolet, Inc. (PCI) owned the automobile dealership. B&E Holdings owned the real estate where the dealership was located. Blayne and Elyse each owned interests in these entities, and Elyse had assumed management responsibilities for both. Blayne appealed, individually and derivatively on behalf of B&E Holdings, LLP, a judgment dismissing his breach of fiduciary duty claim against Elyse and END L.L.L.P. Elyse cross appealed, arguing the district court erred when it denied her motion for N.D.R.Civ.P. 11 sanctions. The court held Blayne’s claim, which alleged Elyse breached fiduciary duties by usurping a real estate opportunity, was res judicata but not frivolous. Finding no reversible error as to either claim, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Puklich v. Puklich, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court determining that Healy Ranch, Inc. (HRI) possessed marketable record title to certain real property in Brule County, voiding Bret Healy's notice of claim, and denying HRI's request for attorney fees, holding that there was no error.HRI brought this quiet title action under the South Dakota Marketable Title Act (SDMTA) seeking to defeat Healy's notice of claim to the disputed real property and establish for itself marketable record title to the property. HRI also sought costs and attorneys fees. Healy counterclaimed, seeking to quiet title to the property in the name of Healy Ranch Partnership (HRP). The circuit court granted summary judgment for HRI. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Healy's notice of claim was timely, but the cause of action was precluded, and the notice should be voided on this basis; and (2) the circuit court's denial of HRI's request for attorney fees was not erroneous. View "Healy Ranch, Inc. v. Healy" on Justia Law

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In this action to quiet title to a parcel of land in Brule County the Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment decision of the circuit court determining that the current possessors of the subject land (Possessors) acquired title by adverse possession and quieting title in their favor, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment on Possessors' adverse possession counterclaim.Healy Ranch Partnership (HRP) commenced this action to quiet title, naming multiple defendants, including Possessors, the previous possessors, and another member of HRP. Possessors filed a counterclaim alleging that they had acquired title through adverse possession. The circuit court determined that Possessors acquired title by adverse possession, deciding motions to dismiss and for summary judgment adversely to HRP. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the circuit court's decision granting the motion to dismiss, holding that the court erred when it applied this Court's decision in Healy v. Osborne, 934 N.W.2d 557 (S.D. 2019), to assess the sufficiency of HRP's complaint; and (2) affirmed the court's decision granting Possessors summary judgment on their adverse possession counterclaim, holding that Possessors established title to the property by adverse possession. View "Healy Ranch Partnership v. Mines" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC for a permit to construct a wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC acted within its discretion in this case.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) neither of the Intervenors' evidentiary claims were sustainable; and (2) even if the Intervenors' claims were preserved for appeal, the PUC acted within its discretion when it denied the Intervenors' challenges to certain testimony. View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law