Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Tribe purchased the coastal property and applied to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take the property into trust, 25 U.S.C. 5108. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires that each federal agency whose activity affects a coastal zone must certify that the activity is consistent with state coastal management policies, 16 U.S.C. 1456(c). The Bureau determined the Tribe’s proposal is consistent with state coastal policies, including public access requirements in the Coastal Act. (Pub. Resources Code 30210). The Coastal Commission concurred after securing commitments from the Tribe to protect coastal access and coordinate with the state on future development. If the Tribe violates those policies, the Coastal Commission may request that the Bureau take remedial action. The plaintiffs use the Tribe’s coastal property to access the beach. They allege that the property's prior owner dedicated a portion of it to public use, in 1967-1972 and sought to quiet title to a public easement for vehicle access and parking; they did not allege that the Tribe has interfered with their coastal access or plans to do so.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Sovereign immunity bars a quiet title action to establish a public easement for coastal access on property owned by an Indian tribe. Tribal immunity is subject only to two exceptions: when a tribe has waived its immunity or Congress has authorized the suit. Congress has not abrogated tribal immunity for a suit to establish a public easement. View "Self v. Cher-AE Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria" on Justia Law

by
Fisk, an LLC formed in 2018, had two members; one is an attorney. Fisk collaborated with the City of DeKalb regarding the redevelopment of a dilapidated property. Under a Development Incentive Agreement, if Fisk met certain contingencies, DeKalb would provide $2,500,000 in Tax Increment Financing. In 2019, Nicklas became the City Manager and opened new inquiries into Fisk’s financial affairs and development plans. Nicklas concluded Fisk did not have the necessary financial capacity or experience, based on specified factors.Fisk's Attorney Member had represented a client in a 2017 state court lawsuit in which Nicklas was a witness. Nicklas considered funding incentives for other development projects with which, Fisk alleged, Nicklas had previous financial and personal ties.The City Council found Fisk’s financial documents “barren of any assurance that the LLC could afford ongoing preliminary planning and engineering fees,” cited “insufficient project details,” and terminated the agreement. Fisk sued Nicklas under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging Nicklas sought to retaliate against Fisk and favor other developers. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims. Fisk did not exercise its First Amendment petition right in the 2017 lawsuit. That right ran to the client; Fisk did not yet exist. Fisk had no constitutionally protected property right in the agreement or in the city’s resolution, which did not bind or “substantively limit[]” the city “by mandating a particular result when certain clearly stated criteria are met.” Nicklas had a rational basis for blocking the project, so an Equal Protection claim failed. View "145 Fisk, LLC v. Nicklas" on Justia Law

by
The dispute in this case centered on two oil-and-gas-producing formations known as the Chester and the Marmaton, located in Beaver County, Oklahoma. In 1973, Arnold Petroleum, Inc., the predecessor in interest to plaintiffs (collectively, "Arnold") obtained six oil-and-gas leases covering land in Beaver County. Over the course of 1973 and 1974, Arnold Petroleum assigned its leases to Dyco Petroleum Corporation, expressly reserving an overriding royalty interest in any oil and gas produced under the leases. Dyco assigned the leases to Harold Courson, the predecessor in interest of defendant Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. This assignment, too, was expressly subject to Arnold's overriding royalty interest. Two wells drilled in the Chester formation produced "mostly gas with some oil" continuously since the mid-1970s, and at no point since then did Arnold ever stop receiving payments on its overriding royalty interest in those producing wells. In 1984, Courson obtained several new leases from the mineral owners who had granted the 1973 leases. The 1984 leases purported to cover the same rights as the original 1973 leases, but were silent as to any particular geologic formation or zone. Arnold did not become aware of the 1984 leases until 1999 when it and other royalty holders received a letter from Courson explaining he had recompleted a well in the Chester formation that had originally been drilled into the separate Lower Chester formation by Natural Gas Anadarko, Inc. (NGA). In the 1999 conversation, a Courson employee told the Arnold landman the 1984 leases covered only "deep rights" or "lower depths" that had expired under the 1973 leases. This assertion would exclude the Marmaton. For the next 13 years, the matter of the Marmaton formation would remain dormant. Courson assigned his leases to Cabot in August 2011, and Cabot drilled and completed several horizontal wells in the Marmaton. Cabot rejected Arnold's request for payment, and Arnold sued in October 2012, seeking damages for nonpayment of royalties. Cabot argued Arnold's claims were barred because the applicable statute of limitations began to run with the filing of the new leases in 1984, which event (in Cabot's view) should have put Arnold on notice of an adverse claim to the Marmaton. The issue presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review was whether plaintiffs waited too long in asserting their right to payment of the overriding royalty interest. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs on those grounds. The Supreme Court disagreed: this litigation could not have arisen until defendant first developed the disputed formation in 2012, and then refused plaintiffs' request for payment of royalties from that production. "Nothing preceding that sequence of events could reasonably have foreclosed plaintiffs' ability to press their claim for the payments to which they were entitled under valid mineral leases." View "Claude C. Arnold Non-Operated Royalty Interest Properties v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision affirming the circuit court's summary judgment in favor of Kentucky Tax Company, LLC on Kentucky Tax's suit to foreclose its lien on certain property and to collect amounts owed by Pleasant Unions, LLC, holding that Kentucky Tax did not comply with statutory notice requirements.Kentucky Tax acquired a certificate of delinquency for property owned by Pleasant Unions. Kentucky Tax then brought this action. Kentucky Tax filed a motion for summary judgment, attaching letters to show that it had satisfied the notice requirements of Ky. Rev. Stat. 134.490. In response, Pleasant Unions claimed that Kentucky Tax had not proven that two letters were actually mailed. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Kentucky Tax, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an affidavit from Kentucky Tax's attorney tendered in support of its summary judgment motion was not sufficient proof of mailing as required by the applicable statute; and (2) summary judgment was premature because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to Kentucky Tax's compliance with the notice requirements of section 134.490. View "Pleasant Unions, LLC v. Kentucky Tax Co., LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's ruling that Ky. Rev. Stat. 391.033 and Ky. Rev. Stat. 411.137 (together, "Mandy Jo's Law") precluded Appellant from recovering his intestate share of the settlement proceeds connected with the wrongful death of his son, Brandon Blake, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that Appellant willfully abandoned Brandon.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court's failure to remove Appellees Melanie and Derek Blake as co-administrators of Brandon's estate was harmless error; (2) the trial court correctly employed the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof; (3) the trial court did not clearly err in finding that Appellant willfully abandoned Brandon under sections 391.033 and 411.137; and (4) equitable estoppel did not preclude Melanie from raising Mandy Jo's Law as a defense. View "Simms v. Estate of Blake" on Justia Law

by
This cases concerns a dispute regarding terms included in a 1957 grant deed (and incorporated by reference into various other documents) transferring the land on which SCST's campus sits from Claremont College to SCST. The deed at issue contained two conditions subsequent, one regarding permissible uses of the property (Educational Use Clause) and one regarding conditions that would require SCST to offer the property for sale to Claremont on agreed terms (First Offer Clause), enforceable by a power of termination and right of reentry. On appeal, Claremont challenges the trial court’s use of the forfeiture doctrine to decline to enforce the deed's First Offer Clause and to create a first right of refusal in its stead.The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment, agreeing with Claremont that the forfeiture doctrine has no application under these circumstances. The court need not decide whether the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA) applies to the parties' dispute because even if it does apply, the First Offer Clause is an equitable servitude that the MRTA does not extinguish. The court concluded that enforcing the First Offer Clause as written would operate no forfeiture to either party; indeed, each party would receive that for which they bargained, and that to which they agreed. The court remanded with instructions. View "Southern California School of Theology v. Claremont Graduate University" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court reversing a transfer penalty imposed by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services on David Pfoser, a disabled Medicaid recipient who resided in a long-term care facility, after he transferred partial proceeds from the sale of a house into a pooled special-needs trust, holding that Pfoser made a satisfactory showing that he intended to receive valuable consideration for his transfer of assets.State and federal law impose a penalty on recipients, like Pfoser, of Medical Assistance for Long-Term Care benefits if they transfer assets for less than fair market value, but no penalty is imposed if the recipient makes a satisfactory showing that he intended to dispose of the assets either at fair market value or for other valuable consideration. See Minn. Stat. 256B.0595, subd. 4(a)(4). The Commissioner affirmed the transfer penalty imposed on Pfoser. The district court reversed, concluding that Pfoser received adequate compensation in the form of his vested equitable interest in the trust assets. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence did not support the Commissioner's decision to uphold the penalty. View "Pfoser v. Harpstead" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court concluding that the executor of the Estate of Thelma J. Taylor converted estate property and ordering the executor to repay double the converted property's value, as provided by Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-1704, holding that the statute's plain language does not limit its application.The court of appeals upheld the conversion finding but held that section 59-1704 did not apply because the property was taken before the executor was appointed to administer the estate. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals on the issue subject to review, holding (1) nothing in section 59-1704 limits its application only to circumstances when the decedent's funds are taken by a court-appointed estate fiduciary after probate proceedings begin; and (2) the district court properly assessed the double penalty against the executor under the plain language of the statute. View "In re Estate of Taylor" on Justia Law

by
In this case stemming from a fire that destroyed part of the Old Market area in Omaha the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) was not immune from suit and denying MUD's motion for summary judgment, holding that there was no merit to MUD's assignments of error.Multiple lawsuits were initiated as a result of the damage caused by the fire. After various settlements, MUD was the only remaining defendant involved in these consolidated appeals. Plaintiffs alleged that MUD failed properly to mark a gas line, failed to timely shut off the gas at the scene of the fire, and failed properly to abandon an old gas line. MUD filed a motion to dismiss in each case, arguing that it was immune from suit on the basis of the discretionary function exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA). The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that MUD was not immune from suit under the discretionary function exception to the PSTCA. View "Mercer v. North Central Service, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion to set aside a default judgment awarding Plaintiff immediate and exclusive possession of Defendant's home, holding that the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment.Plaintiff obtained title to Defendant's home by way of a tax sale deed and, after filing a petition for recovery of real property, obtained a default judgment awarding it possession of Defendant's home. Defendant filed a motion to set aside the default judgment, asserting that he was legally disabled and exempt from paying property taxes and that he had been trying to resolve the property tax issue for some time. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant established good cause to set aside the default judgment. View "No Boundry, LLC v. Hoosman" on Justia Law