Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

by
In this appeal from a residential foreclosure judgment, the Supreme Judicial Court clarified the criteria under the business record exception to the hearsay rule for admitting into evidence records that a business has obtained from another entity and integrated into its own records or operations by reaffirming the interpretation set forth in Northeast Bank & Trust Co. v. Soley, 481 A.2d 1123, 1127 (Me. 1984).Specifically, the Supreme Court held that a record that one business has received from another is admissible under Me. R. Evid. 803(6) without testimony about the practices of the business that created the record, provided that (1) the proponent of admission establishes that the receiving business has integrated the record into its own records, has established the accuracy of the contents of the record, and has relief on the record in the conduct of its operations; and (2) the opponent of admission has not shown that the record is nonetheless not sufficiently trustworthy to be admitted. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Shone" on Justia Law

by
RFM-TREI Jefferson Apartments, LLC; RFM-TREI Lincoln Apartments, LLC; Dickinson Homestay, LLC; and Lodgepros Dickinson, LLC (together “the Taxpayers”) appealed district court judgments affirming the Stark County Board of Commissioners’ (“the Board”) denials of their applications for tax abatements or refunds. The Taxpayers collectively owned two apartment complexes and two hotels located in the City of Dickinson. The Taxpayers filed applications for abatement or refund of their 2016 property taxes. The Taxpayers’ opinions of value for each property differed from the City’s valuations by a range of roughly $1.8 million to $20.3 million. After holding a hearing, the City recommended the Board deny each application. The Board indeed denied the abatement applications in four separate written decisions. Using the same language in each, the Board concluded the assessor’s valuations were not “in error, invalid, inequitable, unjust, or arrived at in an arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable manner.” The decisions also explained the Board did not believe the Taxpayers provided “sufficient enough information relating to the subject properties, or the local market for competing properties, to lead us to the same value conclusions requested by the applicant.” The district court affirmed each denial in separate, written orders and judgments. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Board acted arbitrarily and unreasonably in adopting assessments exceeding the true and full value of the property. The Court reversed the district court judgments and the Board’s decisions denying the Taxpayers’ abatement applications. The matters were remanded for a new hearing to determine the “true and full value” of the properties and reconsideration of the abatement applications. View "RFM-TREI Jefferson Apartments v. Stark County Board of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

by
G&D Enterprises (“G&D”) appealed the dismissal of its claims against against Merrilynn Liebelt. G&D and Liebelt owned adjacent properties in the City of Beulah, North Dakota. In the summer of 2015, G&D discovered a private water line while digging on its property, puncturing the line. The water line crossed a portion of G&D’s property and supplied water to Liebelt’s residence on her property. Before either G&D or Liebelt owned their respective property, both properties had been one lot. The existence of the water line was not recorded, and neither party had actual knowledge of the water line before G&D discovered it. It was undisputed that there was no express easement of record for the water line. In November 2017, G&D filed a summons and complaint at district court, asserting claims against Liebelt for private nuisance and civil trespass and seeking damages and injunctive relief. Liebelt answered, denying the allegations and asserting G&D was not entitled to any damages, injunctive relief, or recovery. In March 2019, Liebelt moved the district court for summary judgment on all claims. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court erred in granting summary judgment because the court misapplied the law, and genuine issues of material fact existed on G&D’s claims for nuisance and trespass, and the court erred in dismissing G&D’s request for injunctive relief. View "G & D Enterprises v. Liebelt" on Justia Law

by
Robert Hall appealed a judgment entered in favor of the defendants Estate of John Hall, Deborah Hall, and Leslie Hall Butzer ("Hall defendants") in this action to quiet title to a non-participating royalty interest (NPRI) in certain real property. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in vacating a default judgment against John Hall. However, because res judicata did not bar Robert Hall’s claims, the court erred in granting summary judgment to the Hall defendants. The matter was therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hall v. Hall, et al." on Justia Law

by
For several years Miller provided Dix with living space in her basement, without payment of rent. Miller told Dix to move out so she could sell the house. He refused; Miller called the police. Officers told Miller that she could not evict Dix without a court order. Miller called the police again the next day. Officers arrived, allegedly knowing that there had been no domestic disturbance. They prevented Dix from entering the house while Miller hauled Dix’s things outside. Dix protested and yelled insults. Officers threatened to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Eventually, Dix left and got a moving van. When he returned, the officers allowed him inside to retrieve his property but refused him access to certain rooms and took his keys.Dix a pro se suit, with 12 causes of action against nine defendants. The district court struck the pleading citing “redundant, impertinent, and scandalous allegations.” Dix amended his complaint. adding seven causes of action and five defendants, including Fourth Amendment claims against the officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. With respect to the Fourth Amendment claims, the court noted that Dix was free to leave at any time and that Miller maintained complete possession and control over her home but had granted Dix a revocable license. When a license is revoked, the licensee becomes a trespasser. A seizure of property occurs when there is meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests; here there was none. Even if there were a seizure, it was reasonable. View "Dix v. Edelman Financial Services, LLC" on Justia Law

by
When Lillie Mae Bedford died in 1997, she left a residential property in Marietta, Georgia by testamentary devise to her daughter, Jennifer Hood. Although the Bedford estate never made and delivered a deed to Hood to perfect a conveyance of legal title, Hood lived on the property for some time after the death of her mother, and she paid the taxes associated with it. But beginning in 2009, the taxes on the property were unpaid, and in 2013, the property was sold to Crippen & Lawrence Investment Co., Inc. at a tax sale. More than 12 months later, Crippen took steps to foreclose the statutory right of redemption, and Crippen gave Hood notice of foreclosure. Once the redemption period expired, Crippen petitioned for quiet title. Hood did not respond to the petition, but the Bedford estate appeared and moved to dismiss, asserting the estate was entitled to notice of the foreclosure, and had not been served with such notice. Crippen responded that the estate was not entitled to notice because the executor by his conduct had assented to the devise of the property, which by operation of law passed title to Hood notwithstanding that the estate had made and delivered no deed, and that the estate, therefore, no longer had any interest in the property. A special master of the trial court determined the estate was entitled to notice and dismissed the quiet title petition. Crippen appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed. Upon further appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the appellate court: "assent may be presumed from legatee’s possession of the property. ... Although Crippen would not have standing to move a probate court to prospectively compel the executor of the Bedford estate to give assent that has been so far withheld, Crippen has standing in this quiet title proceeding to establish that the executor previously assented to the devise to Hood under the old Probate Code." View "Crippen & Lawrence Investment Co., Inc. v. A Tract of Land Being Known as 444 Lemon Street, et. al." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the district court in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims of interference and negligence, holding that the district court erred in determining that Defendants interfered with Plaintiffs' wells and that remand was necessary on the negligence claim to consider whether it survives the dismissal of Plaintiffs' interference claims.Plaintiffs diverted their water obtained through their water rights through the use of two wells. Defendant had a junior water right and operated five wells that were deeper and stronger than Plaintiffs' wells. Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit alleging interference and negligence, claiming that Defendant interfered with their water rights because when one of Defendant's wells operated it lowered the water table and put the available water beyond the reach of Plaintiffs' pumps. The district ruled in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the district court's determination of interference, holding that Plaintiff failed to prove interference; and (2) declined to reverse the negligence ruling but, in light of the reversal of the district court's interference determinations, remanded this claim for reconsideration and further fact-finding, if necessary. View "Arave v. Pineview West Water Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Albany & Eastern Railroad Company (AERC) petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for reconsideration of its decision in Albany & Eastern Railroad Co. v. Martell, 469 P3d 748 (2020). In the previous case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of defendants, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that defendants established a prescriptive easement over plaintiff AERC’s land. By that decision, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. In its petition for reconsideration, plaintiff did not challenge the resolution of the prescriptive easement issue. Instead, plaintiff argued the Supreme Court erred in affirming the judgment of the trial court, rather than remanding the case to the Court of Appeals to consider a separate issue: the trial court’s award of attorney fees to defendants under ORS 20.080(2). Plaintiff had argued to the Court of Appeals that, even if defendants successfully asserted a prescriptive easement counterclaim, the trial court had no authority to award attorney fees to defendants. According to plaintiff, a prescriptive easement was an equitable remedy that fell outside of ORS 20.080. Defendants filed a response, arguing that the trial court was correct in its award of attorney fees. They also filed petitions for attorney fees and costs and disbursements. Plaintiff objected to the request for attorney fees, arguing that the issue of defendants’ entitlement to fees had not yet been resolved and, alternatively, that defendants’ claimed fees were unreasonable. The Supreme Court agreed with plaintiff that the matter of attorney fees should have been remanded to the Court of Appeals following its disposition on the merits. Accordingly, plaintiff’s petition for reconsideration was granted, and the disposition in the earlier case modified. Defendants' petition for fees was denied. View "Albany & Eastern Railroad Co. v. Martell" on Justia Law

by
In this interpleader action seeking a judicial resolution of two disputed claims of ownership of proceeds from the sale of unclaimed corporate stock the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the buyer of the original stock, not the seller, had a super equitable claim of ownership, holding that the circuit court did not err.MCC Acquisition, LC purchased all of the assets of M.C. Construction, which included Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield stock. M.C. Construction never delivered the stock certificates, however, because it had never possessed them. Later, the Treasurer sold the stock and filed this interpleader action. The circuit court awarded the proceeds from the sale of the unclaimed corporate stock to MCC Acquisition, finding that MCC Acquisition had obtained equitable title to the Trigon stock. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly awarded the interpleader stock proceeds to MCC Acquisition; and (2) did not err in rejecting the argument that the statute of limitations barred MCC Acquisition's in rem claim. View "Day v. MCC Acquisition, LC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction alleging the existence of an easement allowing access to a gravel pit on Defendants' property, holding that the circuit court erred when it refused to recognize an easement implied by prior use.When Defendants attempted to block Plaintiffs' use of an access road to the gravel pit on Defendants' property Plaintiffs commenced the current action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiffs' easement implied by prior use claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court (1) erred in applying the substantive law and the standards required by S.D. Codified Law 15.6-56; and (2) erred when it granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Heumiller v. Hansen" on Justia Law