Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying and dismissing all claims in Plaintiffs' complaint challenging a contested amendment to the City of Providence Zoning Ordinance that would allow the construction of a new high-rise building in Providence's Knowledge District, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) henceforth, when the superior court reviews a case pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 45-24-71, review of that judgment must be sought in the Supreme Court through a petition for a writ of certiorari; (2) the hearing justice did not err in determining that Plaintiffs' evidence was insufficient to rebut the presumption of validity of the amendment; and (3) Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief on their remaining allegations of error. View "Peter Scotti & Associates, Inc. v. Yurdin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court entering final judgment in favor of Defendants - Forsons Realty, LLC, Ferrara Mechanical Services Inc., and Daniel Ferrara - and dismissing the complaint brought by the Town of Coventry stemming from the activities of an industrial enterprise conducting business on certain property, holding that there was no error.At issue on appeal was the trial justice's decision to allow heavy duty vehicle inspections to be performed on the property provided that certain conditions were adhered to and the justice's ruling that there had not been an impermissible expansion of a pre-existing legal nonconforming use, holding that the trial justice was neither clearly wrong nor did she overlook or misconceive material evidence in her judgment. View "Town of Coventry v. Forsons Realty LLC" on Justia Law

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James Township, Michigan filed a nuisance action against Daniel Rice , alleging Rice violated the township’s blight ordinance as well as the Michigan Residential Code by having junk cars, unpermitted construction, and fences of an improper height on his property. Rice moved to dismiss the portions of the citation related to the improper height of his fence and the unpermitted construction, arguing that, under the Right to Farm Act (RTFA), the township was prohibited from enforcing against farms or farm operations local ordinances governing those structures. The township opposed the motion, arguing that the property was not protected by the RTFA because it had not previously been used for farming. Following a hearing, the district court, found that Rice’s use of the property constituted a “farm” or “farm operation” for purposes of the RTFA and that the RTFA was an affirmative defense to those portions of the civil citation. The district court dismissed the specified portions of the citation and denied the parties’ individual requests for costs and fees. Rice moved for reconsideration, arguing that, under MCL 286.473b, he was entitled to costs and expenses, as well as reasonable and actual attorney fees; the district court denied the motion. The district court later dismissed the remaining portions of the citation and dismissed the action with prejudice. Rice appealed and the circuit court affirmed the district court’s order. The Court of Appeals denied Rice’s application for leave to appeal the circuit court’s order. In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration as on leave granted. On remand, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s legal conclusions, holding that an award of costs , expenses, and fees was not mandatory under MCL 286.473b, but the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for articulation of the district court’s reasons for the discretionary denial. The Michigan Supreme Court found no such discretion under the RTFA, and Rice was entitled to his fees. The appellate court’s judgment was reversed. View "Township of James v. Rice" on Justia Law

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The Claims Court certified a class of landowners who owned property along a railroad corridor that was converted to a recreational trail under the National Trails System Act. Denise and Gordon Woodley, who jointly owned property along the railroad, were members of the class seeking just compensation under the Fifth Amendment. The Woodleys challenged a proposed settlement and fee award and won a remand that entitled them to access to certain documents used in the calculations of class member compensation and attorneys’ fees.After approval of a settlement agreement that required payment of compensation to the class under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, 42 U.S.C. 4654(c), the Woodleys successfully sought attorney’s fees for work performed by counsel they jointly hired. Denise separately sought attorney’s fees for work performed by her attorney-spouse, Gordon, explaining that he was one of her lawyers throughout the proceeding; she also sought to recoup certain expenses. The Claims Court denied the motion, reasoning that pro se litigants cannot recover attorney’s fees and expenses and that Gordon, as a co-plaintiff and joint owner of the property at issue, was pro se and not compensable. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part. Denise is not entitled to attorney’s fees for the legal work performed by her attorney-spouse. The court remanded for a determination of the proper reimbursement, if any, of her claimed expenses. View "Haggart v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the water court denying Robert and Carol Hurds' motion to amend the water right for a groundwater well on the grounds that the untimeliness of the motion meant the water court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the requested modification, holding that there was no error.In 2017, the Montana legislature established a June 30, 2019 deadline for exempt water rights holders to file a statement of claim. The deadline passed without the Hurds filing a statement of claim for their exempt water right. In 2021, the Hurds filed a motion to amend a statement of claim under Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-233(6). The water court concluded that it had no jurisdiction to modify a statement of claim for the Hurds because they hadn't properly filed a claim to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the water court correctly denied the Hurds' motion for lack of jurisdiction. View "In re Hurd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting a motion to approve a settlement agreement reached in mediation involving siblings Lily Smith and Sam, Dan, and Vernon Lindemulder, holding that Petitioners were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.The agreement at issue resolved claims involving the Alice M. Lindemulder Trust, established by the parties' mother, which held more than 2,000 acres of land in Stillwater County. Sam appealed the district court's decision to approve the settlement agreement, arguing that the agreement was unenforceable because he lacked the capacity to enter it and had been subjected to undue influence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Sam validly consented to the agreement; and (2) did not err in holding that the agreement was valid and enforceable. View "Smith v. Lindemulder" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant Thomas Wakefield and dismissing Plaintiff Pleasantdale Condominiums LLC's claims alleging nondisclosure of material information under a Maine statute, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.After it purchased an apartment complex Plaintiff sued Defendant, the seller, alleging claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Both counts were based on the alleged violation of Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 33, 173(5). The district court concluded that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment on both counts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claim for fraud in the nature of active concealment. View "Pleasantdale Condominiums, LLC v. Wakefield" on Justia Law

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The limited issue before the Oklahoma Supreme Court in this case was whether Appellants Steve and Kaci Snow (the Snows) had standing to assert a claim for inverse condemnation against the Town of Calumet (Town), Oklahoma. Landowners sued the Town for trespass and inverse condemnation due to maintaining two municipal sewer lines across the owners' property after the expiration of two temporary easements. The town counterclaimed to quiet title. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the landowners' motion for summary judgment on the town's quiet-title claim and granted the town's motion for summary judgment on the landowners' claims for trespass and inverse condemnation. The landowners appealed the district court's judgment on their inverse condemnation claim. The Supreme Court answered the issue presented in the affirmative. Town's temporary easements for sewer lines installed by Town on the Snows' property expired in 2010, and Town then sought perpetual easements without compensation from the Snows for the continual use and maintenance of the sewer lines. Under these facts, the Snows had standing to assert a claim for inverse condemnation. View "Snow v. Town of Calumet" on Justia Law

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The Texas Legislature limited beer-to-go sales to brewers and manufacturers that produced no more than 225,000 barrels annually “at all premises [they] wholly or partly owned.” Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. Sections 62.122(a) and 12.052(a).   The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) ordered CANarchy to cease and desist after it determined that CANarchy’s facilities collectively exceeded the 225,000-barrel limit. CANarchy complied with the order but then filed suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that the 225,000- barrel threshold did not apply to barrels produced at leased premises. The district court agreed with CANarchy that “premises wholly or partly owned” do not include leased premises and granted it summary judgment.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting Plaintiff’s motion for a declaratory judgment. The court held that “premises wholly or partly owned” do not include leased premises and granted it summary judgment.   The court wrote, “it is the Legislature’s prerogative to enact statutes; it is the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret those statutes according to the language the Legislature used, absent a context indicating a different meaning or the result of the plain meaning of the language yielding absurd or nonsensical results.” Here, the ordinary definition of “owned,” when applied to sections 12.052(a) and 62.122(a) of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, establishes that the 225,000-barrel production threshold set in those statutes encompasses only barrels produced at premises owned by the brewer, either in whole or in part, and not at premises leased by the brewer. View "CANarchy Craft Brewery v. Texas Alcoholic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the portion of the superior court order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to liability against Westlo Management, LLC on counts one, two, three, and seven of Plaintiffs' third-amended complaint, holding that the record was inadequate for a determination of whether the hearing justice abused his discretion in granting the motion to intervene filed by The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.Plaintiff Curtis Andrade filed a charge of discrimination with the Commission. The Commission found probable cause that Defendants had violated Plaintiff's rights. Plaintiff then filed this action, after which the hearing justice granted the Commission's motion to intervene as a party plaintiff. The hearing justice granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on four counts against Westlo, finding that Westlo had discriminated against Plaintiff by denying him the reasonable accommodation of having his dog his residence. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding that Westlo failed provide the Court with a proper transcript of the hearing on the Commission's motion to intervene this Court was unable to conduct a meaningful review of the superior court's decisions on the issue of the Commission's intervention. View "Andrade v. Westlo Management LLC" on Justia Law