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NDSC Industrial Park, LLC (“NDSC”) appealed a district court order dismissing its “Consent Decree Order Motion.” In the late 1990s, the United States and the State of Colorado each filed complaints against Colorado & Eastern Railroad Company (“C & E”) under CERCLA. These complaints sought reimbursement of response costs associated “with the release or threatened release of hazardous substances at the Sand Creek Industrial Site located in Commerce City and Denver, Colorado.” In an effort to avoid protracted litigation, the parties entered into a partial consent decree (the “Consent Decree”) on April 13, 1999. Pursuant to the Consent Decree, C & E agreed to sell two parcels of land, the OU3/6 Property and the OU1/5 Property (collectively the “Properties”), and pay the net proceeds of the sales to the United States and Colorado. In 2002, the remediated OU1/5 and OU3/6 Properties were put up for auction by the United States pursuant to the Consent Decree. NDSC was the winning bidder. Prior to closing on the purchase of the Properties, NDSC was made aware that C & E had already conveyed its fee interest in a right-of-way. In 2014, NDSC filed suit in Colorado state court to quiet title to the railroad right-of-way against C & E, and other interested parties in the Properties. The district court dismissed the motion because NDSC lacked standing to enforce the terms of the consent decree. On appeal, NDSC claimed the district court erred in concluding it: (1) was attempting to enforce the consent decree, as opposed to seeking a limited declaration regarding the meaning of the consent decree; and (2) did not have standing to seek a declaration that a conveyance of property violated the terms of the consent decree. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s dismissal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Colorado & Eastern Railroad Co" on Justia Law

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Winnie Development, LLLP appealed a district court judgment holding it had no interest in a parcel of land in the City of Horace. This litigation arose after Winnie sought access over Parcel 1 to reach an adjacent 1.6-acre piece of land ("Parcel 2"). Parcel 2 was not in the Orth-Golberg Second Addition. It sat between the Sheyenne River and several other privately owned lots in the subdivision. Parcel 2 could be accessed only via Parcel 1, crossing the Sheyenne River or crossing privately owned property in the subdivision. Winnie brought this action to quiet title in Winnie to both Parcel 1 and Parcel 2, to declare an easement by necessity in Winnie's favor over Parcel 1, or to reform the plat and declare Parcel 1 dedicated to the public subject to access rights not inconsistent with the plat's "City Dike Access." Some defendants owning land in the vicinity of Parcel 1 made no answer to Winnie's complaint. One defendant answered but did not otherwise litigate the issues. The district court ultimately entered judgment barring these defendants from further claiming any interest in Parcel 1. Stephanie and Benjamin Hendricks owned the property immediately south of Parcel 1. The Hendricks counterclaimed against Winnie, arguing they owned all or part of Parcel 1 and Winnie was trespassing on their property by using Parcel 1 to access Parcel 2. The district court rejected both of the Hendricks's counterclaims. None of the parties contested Winnie's claim to Parcel 2, and the district court quieted title in Winnie to that property. The City of Horace also answered and counterclaimed, alleging it had an interest in Parcel 1 to access City dikes. The district court subsequently granted the City's motion for summary judgment, holding the City has a right to use Parcel 1 to access the City's dikes regardless of ultimate disposition of the property. The court found the designation of Parcel 1 as "City Dike Access" divested Mary Lou Orth of any title, and thus the quitclaim deed Winnie obtained from her in 2014 conveyed no interest. The district court also found Winnie failed to meet its burden of proof establishing an easement by necessity, and found Winnie incorrectly claimed an easement over the land of a third party. Winnie argued it had a legal interest allowing access to its property adjacent to the disputed parcel. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the district court for entry of judgment, providing that Winnie held fee title to the disputed parcel subject to the City's access rights. View "Winnie Development, LLLP, v. Reveling" on Justia Law

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Dickinson Elks Building, LLC, appealed a judgment awarding Rick and Janan Snider, doing business as RJ Snider Construction ("RJ Snider"), $198,255.08 for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims. In 2011, RJ Snider contracted with Granville Brinkman to furnish materials and labor for construction work on real property owned by Dickinson Elks. RJ Snider's principal place of business was located in Washington. In 2012, RJ Snider applied for a contractor license from the North Dakota Secretary of State, and the license was issued on in February 2012. RJ Snider provided services and materials for Dickinson Elks' property from December 26, 2011, to November 30, 2012. Dickinson Elks paid RJ Snider for all of the services and materials it provided between December 26, 2011, and February 1, 2012. RJ Snider billed Dickinson Elks $174,642.10 for the services and materials it provided from March 15, 2012, until November 30, 2012. Dickinson Elks did not pay any of this amount. In January 2013, RJ Snider recorded a construction lien against Dickinson Elks' property. In May 2014, Dickinson Elks served RJ Snider with a demand to start a lawsuit to enforce the lien and record a lis pendens within 30 days of the demand. RJ Snider sued Dickinson Elks in June 2014, seeking foreclosure of the construction lien and a money judgment. RJ Snider recorded a notice of lis pendens on July 28, 2014. Dickinson Elks moved for summary judgment, arguing RJ Snider's complaint should be dismissed under N.D.C.C. 43-07-02 because RJ Snider was not a licensed contractor when it started work on the property. Dickinson Elks also argued RJ Snider did not have a valid construction lien, because RJ Snider did not record a lis pendens within 30 days of receiving the demand to enforce the lien. The district court partially granted the motion and entered a judgment forfeiting RJ Snider's construction lien because RJ Snider did not record a lis pendens within 30 days of receiving Dickinson Elks' demand to enforce the lien as required under N.D.C.C. 35-27-25. The court concluded RJ Snider's claims were not precluded under N.D.C.C. 43-07-02. RJ Snider amended its complaint, claiming it was entitled to a money judgment against Dickinson Elks under the principles of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded RJ Snider was not precluded from maintaining its claims; however, the Court reversed and remanded for the district court to determine whether any of the damages awarded were for services and materials provided before RJ Snider was licensed. View "Snider v. Dickinson Elks Building, LLC" on Justia Law

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James and Carol Miller appealed the quieting of title to certain real property in favor of Julie Sauter. The Millers argued the district court erred in finding Sauter acquired ownership of the disputed property by adverse possession, finding the boundary of the property was established by acquiescence, finding the Millers breached their contract and trespassed on Julie Sauter's property, and awarding Julie Sauter attorney's fees. Prior to taking ownership in 2013, the Miller property was owned by Kurt and Katina Heinrich. In 2012, Julie Sauter and the Heinrichs entered into a grazing lease for a two-year period expiring in 2014. However, before the lease expired, the Heinrichs sold their property to the Millers and no longer had use for the Sauter property. The Millers did not have the property surveyed prior to the purchase. Julie Sauter allowed the Heinrichs to sublease the land to the Millers for the 2013 grazing year. For the 2014 grazing season, Julie Sauter and the Millers entered into a new lease. In 2013, the Millers wanted to drill a water well on their property which required the land to be surveyed. The survey revealed the Original fence did not follow the actual boundary line of the two properties. The Millers tore down the Original fence, constructed a new fence on the surveyed boundary line, and drilled a water well on the disputed property. The right to ownership of land and passage of title, as a consequence of adverse possession or acquiescence, occur when the statutory period for possession has been satisfied. The continuous possession requirement for adverse possession and acquiescence is not disturbed by a nonacquiescent action that brings rise to the quiet title action. The Millers argued the district court erred because there was no proof of acquiescence by themselves or their predecessors in interest, the statutory period for possession was disturbed, and acquiescence was inapplicable because the Original fence was nothing more than a barrier. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgment on acquiescence, breach of contract, trespass, and attorney's fees. Because the Court affirmed on the issue of acquiescence, it did not reach the issue of adverse possession. View "Sauter v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Parcel 27 (22 acres) was proposed for development with 44 single-family homes, 7.9 acres of public parkland, a bike path, and dog park. The planning commission recommended and the city council adopted an amendment to Parcel 27's general plan designation from Administrative Professional Office (APO) to Low-Density Single Family Residential, R-20. After the amendment could no longer be challenged, the council changed Parcel 27's zoning designation from APO to R-20. Opponents filed a referendum challenging the rezoning. The city clerk notified them that the referendum met the requirements of the Elections Code. The city attorney prepared a staff report, indicating that once a referendum petition is certified, the ordinance is suspended and the city council must reconsider the ordinance, but advised that “a referendum seeking to repeal a zoning amendment which would result in a zoning ordinance that is inconsistent with a general plan is a legally invalid referendum.” The council voted to refuse to repeal the ordinance or to place the issue on the ballot because repeal would result in reversion to APO zoning and create an inconsistency between the zoning and the general plan. The court of appeal held that the referendum was not invalid and the issue must be placed on the ballot. View "Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette" on Justia Law

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Parcel 27 (22 acres) was proposed for development with 44 single-family homes, 7.9 acres of public parkland, a bike path, and dog park. The planning commission recommended and the city council adopted an amendment to Parcel 27's general plan designation from Administrative Professional Office (APO) to Low-Density Single Family Residential, R-20. After the amendment could no longer be challenged, the council changed Parcel 27's zoning designation from APO to R-20. Opponents filed a referendum challenging the rezoning. The city clerk notified them that the referendum met the requirements of the Elections Code. The city attorney prepared a staff report, indicating that once a referendum petition is certified, the ordinance is suspended and the city council must reconsider the ordinance, but advised that “a referendum seeking to repeal a zoning amendment which would result in a zoning ordinance that is inconsistent with a general plan is a legally invalid referendum.” The council voted to refuse to repeal the ordinance or to place the issue on the ballot because repeal would result in reversion to APO zoning and create an inconsistency between the zoning and the general plan. The court of appeal held that the referendum was not invalid and the issue must be placed on the ballot. View "Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether a locked entry door to a homeowner’s residence provided sufficient notice to a would-be trespasser that he or she is forbidden from entering the premises. The Court of Appeals held that David Harper, a bail recovery agent, could not be found guilty of trespass under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) as a matter of law after he entered the residence of Tina McDaniel through a locked door from her backyard without McDaniel’s knowledge or permission to arrest Stephen Collier, a man whose criminal bond had been forfeited. Harper gained access to the residence by either reaching his hand through a doggy door attached to the larger locked door and unlocking it, or crawling through the doggy door to do so. Collier did not live at the house, and was there only to work on a vehicle. Harper was a stranger to McDaniel, as he had not been given any access to McDaniel’s home on any prior occasion and had no prior relationship with her. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because a finding of guilt under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) “requires proof that the accused entered [the premises in question] knowingly and without authority after having received express notice that the entry was forbidden,” and because “[t]he State failed to produce any evidence showing that Harper was given the required prior express notice not to enter McDaniel’s premises,” Harper could not be found guilty of criminal trespass under the statute. The Supreme Court concluded that the locked door to the residence provided reasonable and sufficiently explicit notice to Harper that entry into McDaniel’s residence was forbidden under the circumstances of this case, and as such, reversed. View "Georgia v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to decide whether a locked entry door to a homeowner’s residence provided sufficient notice to a would-be trespasser that he or she is forbidden from entering the premises. The Court of Appeals held that David Harper, a bail recovery agent, could not be found guilty of trespass under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) as a matter of law after he entered the residence of Tina McDaniel through a locked door from her backyard without McDaniel’s knowledge or permission to arrest Stephen Collier, a man whose criminal bond had been forfeited. Harper gained access to the residence by either reaching his hand through a doggy door attached to the larger locked door and unlocking it, or crawling through the doggy door to do so. Collier did not live at the house, and was there only to work on a vehicle. Harper was a stranger to McDaniel, as he had not been given any access to McDaniel’s home on any prior occasion and had no prior relationship with her. The Court of Appeals concluded that, because a finding of guilt under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(2) “requires proof that the accused entered [the premises in question] knowingly and without authority after having received express notice that the entry was forbidden,” and because “[t]he State failed to produce any evidence showing that Harper was given the required prior express notice not to enter McDaniel’s premises,” Harper could not be found guilty of criminal trespass under the statute. The Supreme Court concluded that the locked door to the residence provided reasonable and sufficiently explicit notice to Harper that entry into McDaniel’s residence was forbidden under the circumstances of this case, and as such, reversed. View "Georgia v. Harper" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff built a home on leased property owned by the Town of Vernon. The property is part of glebe land1 first leased by the Town in the early nineteenth century. The instant claim is premised upon an alleged covenant of quiet enjoyment in an 1838 deed in which the Town leased the land for the lessee “to farm occupy” and “to hold said granted premises with all the privileges and appurtenances.” Plaintiff obtained his interest in the leased land through a quitclaim deed from his wife in 2013. Plaintiff and his wife had received their interest in the property from a company controlled by plaintiff and a friend. A superior court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment with respect to a claim Plaintiff made that the Town breached a covenant of quiet enjoyment implied in the lease by not providing him access to the property. The superior court found that the pertinent section of "Stebbins Road" had never been officially laid out as a public road and that, therefore, plaintiff never obtained an abutting right of access over the road that would have survived the Town’s later discontinuance of the road. The Vermont Supreme Court determined that the Town had not been joined to earlier litigation in this matter, making resolution of this case by summary judgment improper; the earlier litigation also alleged the Town had not laid out Stebbins Road properly. "Joinder [was] required 'if the action might detrimentally affect a party's or the absentee's ability to protect his property or to prosecute or defend any subsequent litigation in which the absentee might become involved.'" View "Daiello v. Town of Vernon" on Justia Law

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Applicant Chris Khamnei appealed a superior court decision affirming the Burlington Public Works Commission’s denial of his request for permits to complete plumbing work in a building he owned because he failed to identify the name of a licensed professional plumber who would perform the work. On appeal, applicant argued the applicable statute and accompanying regulations allowed property owners to perform this type of work without a plumbing license. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's decision, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Khamnei v. Burlington Public Works Commission" on Justia Law