Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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After unsuccessful attempts to subdivide his property, appellant petitioned for exclusion under the Subdivision Map Act, Government Code section 66410 et seq., seeking orders declaring the 1974 parcel map void and restoration of the historical lot lines.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the petition based on the doctrine of laches and entry of judgment without reaching appellant's legal arguments. The court held that the doctrine of latches applies to petitions for exclusion, and that substantial evidence supports the trial court's laches ruling. In this case, the trial court found the County's determination, that a prior landowner that commissioned the creation of the 1974 map missed an opportunity to correct the map's flaws, more persuasive. The trial court noted that it would be patently unfair to rely upon indirect evidence that is subject to conflicting reasonable interpretations when direct evidence was once available and could have been provided in the absence of needless delay. Thus, the court concluded that the time to address the map's purported errors passed 35 years ago, and it would be inequitable to awaken the issues now. View "Decea v. County of Ventura" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Lauren Shearer appealed, and defendants Ronald Raymond and Sandra Auvil cross-appealed a superior court order which found plaintiff had an easement across defendants’ property to access his landlocked property. The court ruled that “by operation of common law” plaintiff had an easement to access his parcel over a public highway that was discontinued by town vote in 1898. Defendants’ cross-appeal presented a question of first impression for the New Hampshire Supreme Court: whether the owner of landlocked property had an easement for ingress and egress over a public highway that was discontinued by town vote prior to the enactment of the statutory right of access. Plaintiff, in turn, appealed certain aspects of the trial court’s order relating to the width and permitted uses of the easement. The Supreme Court held that, under New Hampshire common law, an easement existed over a discontinued highway if the landowner demonstrated the easement was reasonably necessary for ingress and egress to the property. The Court vacated the trial court’s decision and remanded for the trial court to make that determination in the first instance. In the interests of judicial economy and because the issues might arise on remand, the Supreme Court also addressed the issues raised by plaintiff in his appeal. View "Shearer v. Raymond" on Justia Law

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James Seidel, Troy Seidel, and Gravel Supply LLC (Defendants) appealed a judgment awarding the Estate of Leroy Seidel $68,958.75 relating to the Defendants’ sale of gravel from certain real property. Defendants argued Leroy Seidel did not own any gravel interests in the property because he had conveyed his interests to James Seidel in a 2008 warranty deed. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding Leroy Seidel indeed did not own any gravel or other surface mineral interests in the subject property. View "Estate of Seidel v. Seidel, et al." on Justia Law

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R & F Financial Services, LLC, appealed a district court order dismissing its claims against Cudd Pressure Control, Inc., and RPC, Inc., and granting Cudd’s and RPC’s counterclaims and cross claims. North American Building Solutions, LLC (“NABS”) and Cudd Pressure Control, Inc. (“Cudd”) entered into an agreement where Cudd would lease from NABS 60 temporary housing modules for employee housing. The terms of the Lease required Cudd, at its sole expense, to obtain any conditional use permits, variances or zoning approvals “required by any local, city, township, county or state authorities, which are necessary for the installation and construction of the modules upon the Real Property.” The Lease was set to commence following substantial completion of the installation of all the modules and was to expire 60 months following the commencement date. NABS assigned its interest in 28 modules under lease to R & F; NABS sold the modules to R & F by bill of sale. Cudd accepted the final 32 modules from NABS, to which R & F was not a party. RPC, as the parent company of Cudd, guaranteed Cudd’s performance of payment obligations to R & F under the Lease. The Lease was for a set term and did not contain an option for Cudd to purchase the modules at the expiration of that set term. At the time R & F purchased NABS’s interest in the Lease, it understood the purpose of the Lease was to fulfill Cudd’s need for employee housing. The County required a conditional use permit for workforce housing, and Cudd had been issued a permit allowing for the use of the modules as workforce housing. The City of Williston annexed the Property within its corporate limits. Thereafter, the City adopted a resolution that declared all workforce housing was temporary and extension of permits was subject to review. The City modified the expiration date policy and extended all approvals for workforce housing facilities to December 31, 2015, such that all permits would expire the same day. In December 2015, Cudd successfully extended its permit for the maximum time permitted to July 1, 2016. Cudd sent a letter to NABS stating that it viewed the Lease as being terminated by operation of law as of July 1, 2016. R & F argued the trial court erred in finding the Lease was not a finance lease and, in the alternative, that the court erred in finding the doctrines of impossibility of performance and frustration of purpose to be inapplicable. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "R & F Financial Services v. North American Building Solutions, et al." on Justia Law

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A Compact between Pennsylvania and New Jersey created the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which is authorized to “acquire, own, use, lease, operate, and dispose of real property and interest in real property, and to make improvements,” and to "exercise all other powers . . . reasonably necessary or incidental to the effectuation of its authorized purposes . . . except the power to levy taxes or assessments.” The Commission undertook to replace the Scudder Falls Bridge, purchased land near the bridge in Pennsylvania, and broke ground on a building to house the Commission’s staff in a single location. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry inspectors observed the construction; the Commission never applied for a building permit as required under the Department’s regulations. The Commission asserted that it was exempt from Pennsylvania’s regulatory authority. The Department threatened the Commission’s elevator subcontractor with regulatory sanctions for its involvement in the project. The Commission sought declaratory and injunctive relief.After rejecting an Eleventh Amendment argument, the Third Circuit upheld an injunction prohibiting the Department from seeking to inspect or approve the elevators and from further impeding, interfering, or delaying the contractors. Pennsylvania unambiguously ceded some of its sovereign authority through the Compact. The fact that both states expressly reserved their taxing power—but not other powers—indicates that they did not intend to retain the authority to enforce building safety regulations. View "Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of John Bump on Wells Fargo Bank's foreclosure complaint, holding that the court did not err by concluding that a 2015 order dismissing without prejudice Wells Fargo's earlier action seeking foreclosure on the same mortgage did not vacate the final judgment in Bump's favor that had been entered in 2013 in that same case.Wells Fargo filed a foreclosure action in the district court in 2009. After a bench trial in 2013, the court entered judgment on the merits in favor of Bump. In 2015, the court granted Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss the 2009 action without prejudice. In 2016, Wells Fargo filed a new action to foreclose on the same mortgage. In 2020, the court entered judgment in favor of Bump, stating that it took notice of the 2013 final judgment and concluding that the 2015 order of dismissal without prejudice did not operate to vacate that judgment. The court then determined that Wells Fargo's entire claim was barred by res judicial given the 2013 judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly concluded that the preclusive effect of the 2013 judgment barred the present action; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in taking judicial notice of the prior judgment. View "Wells Fargo Bank v. Bump" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for Plaintiff on his claim to quiet title in his window wells that encroached on Defendant's property based on adverse possession, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff filed a complaint requesting declaratory judgment that he was the owner of the disputed window wells by virtue of adverse possession, a decree quieting title in his name, and a preliminary injunction preventing Defendant from removing the window wells or otherwise damaging his home. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff, finding that Plaintiff met his burden of making a prima facie showing of adverse possession. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff made a prima facie claim for adverse possession of the window wells, and Defendant failed to show a disputed issue of material fact; and (2) the district court did not commit procedural errors that prejudiced Defendant and properly granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. View "Woodward v. Valvoda" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-respondent City of Norco (City) filed a receivership action to abate what it described as “nearly 20 life-safety hazards” on a property belonging to defendant-appellant Ronald Mugar. During the litigation, Mugar abated the substandard conditions on the property, and the matter was dismissed. Mugar appealed the trial court's order declaring the City as the prevailing party, and awarding it attorney fees pursuant to Health & Safety Code section 17980.7(c)(11). Mugar contended: (1) his due process rights were violated because the City was represented by a private law firm with an inappropriate financial interest in the litigation, and without adequate supervision by neutral government attorneys; (2) the award of attorney fees unconstitutionally burdened his First Amendment right to petition by penalizing him for asserting defenses in the action; and (3) the City should not be considered the prevailing party. The City argued Mugar forfeited his constitutional arguments, and it contested the merits of Mugar’s claims. After review, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the City that Mugar forfeited his constitutional arguments. On the merits, however, the Court rejected each of Mugar’s contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "City of Norco v. Mugar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding in favor of the plaintiff subdivision in this dispute between two subdivisions, holding that the defendant subdivision's assignments of error were without merit.At issue was the cost of maintenance for a private street that connected the two subdivisions to public roads. The developers of the subdivisions adopted covenants requiring the subdivisions to share maintenance costs for the private street, but the defendant subdivision later modified its covenants to repudiate its responsibility to pay for the street's maintenance costs. The plaintiff subdivision sued and was awarded $18,733 in damages for its past due share of the street's maintenance costs. The district court also ordered the defendant subdivision to continue contributing its share of costs for the street maintenance and to not again repudiate its obligation to contribute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the district court's judgment. View "Equestrian Ridge Homeowners Ass'n v. Equestrian Ridge Estates II Homeowners Ass'n" on Justia Law

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In the underlying action, plaintiffs filed suit against sellers after the house plaintiffs bought from sellers was uninhabitable based on extensive water intrusion. The arbitrator found that sellers had failed to disclose material facts regarding the water damage; found that the house was worthless and its only value was the land; and awarded plaintiffs over $4.5 million for the loss of the home, the futile efforts to repair it, plus attorney fees and costs.This appeal is from the subsequent lawsuit filed by plaintiffs to unwind sellers' transfers of their assets under the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA). The action was dismissed because plaintiffs could not identify a "third party transferee" who received sellers' assets.The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's order to the extent it dismissed plaintiffs' causes of action for statutory fraudulent transfer and the companion claims for conspiracy and aiding and abetting. The court concluded that plaintiff stated a cause of action for fraudulent transfer under the plain language of the UVTA, and that limiting the UVTA to third-party transfers would neither conform to legislative intent nor serve the public's interest. The court affirmed the order's dismissal of plaintiff's common law cause of action for fraudulent transfer. View "Nagel v. Westen" on Justia Law