Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting summary judgment to the State and denying AWMS Water Solutions, LLC's petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and others (collectively, the State) to initiate property-appropriation proceedings, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained regarding whether AWMS had suffered a total or partial taking.AWMS, a disposer of waste from oil and gas production and drilling sites, obtained permits to drill and inject saltwater in wells on its property. After an earthquake occurred, AWMS was ordered to suspend its operations at one of its wells. In its petition for a writ of mandamus, AWMS alleged that a suspension order effected a governmental taking of its property requiring the State to pay just compensation. The court of appeals granted summary judgment for the State and denied the mandamus petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) AWMS was justified in pursuing compensation through a takings action and that its claim was ripe at the time it instituted its action; and (2) there was a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the State's suspension of operations at the well deprived AWMS of all economically beneficial use of its leasehold. View "State ex rel. AWMS Water Solutions, LLC v. Mertz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the land court judge dismissing the Town of Sudbury's complaint seeking to prevent the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) from entering into an option agreement with Eversource Energy for an easement to install an electric transmission line underneath nine miles of a disused right of way (ROW), approximately 4.3 miles of which extend through the town, holding that the Town could not prevail on either of its claims.Here, the Town asked the Supreme Court to extend the common-law doctrine of prior public use and to determine that the doctrine barred the diversion of public land devoted to one public use to an inconsistent private use. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to adopt the Town's proposed reworking of the doctrine, holding that the Land Court judge did not err in dismissing the Town's complaint because (1) Eversource's proposed use of the MBTA ROW to construct and operate underground transmission lines is not a public use; and (2) the Town has not demonstrated that the benefits of expanding the prior public use doctrine to encompass subsequent inconsistent private uses outweigh the value of adhering to this Court's longstanding common-law formulation. View "Town of Sudbury v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's petition compelling Appellee, the Missoula County Clerk and Recorder, to record Appellant's certificate of survey (COS), holding that Appellee did not have a clear legal duty to record the COS.The district court dismissed Appellant's petition for writ of mandamus, finding that Appellee was not under a clear, non-discretionary, legal duty to record Appellant's COS bearing language certifying that a subdivision qualified for an exemption that the relevant reviewing authority found to be inapplicable and declined to approve. The Supreme Court affirmed holding that the district court was correct in dismissing the petition for writ of mandamus because Appellee was not under a clear legal duty to record a COS bearing a certification of exemption from sanitary review that Appellant was not approved for. View "Richards v. Gernant" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Defendant's appeal from the order of the district court granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on its diversity action seeking a declaratory judgment specifying its property rights in a commercial complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, holding that the district court never issued a final decision.After granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, the district court directed Plaintiff to submit a proposed declaration for the Court's consideration and instructed the Clerk of Court to enter judgment as to Defendants. After Defendant filed a notice of appeal Plaintiff submitted its proposed declaration. The district court, however, stayed the proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal. The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that, without a final declaratory judgment, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "WM Capital Partners 53, LLC v. Barreras, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2005-2007, the borrowers obtained residential home mortgages on California properties. California law would normally have entitled them to “at least 2 percent simple interest per annum” on any funds held in escrow, California Civil Code Section 2954.8. The lender, a federal savings association organized and regulated under the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 (HOLA), 12 U.S.C. 1461, did not pay interest because HOLA preempts California law. In a suit against the lender’s successor, Chase, a national bank organized and regulated under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 38, the district court denied the lender’s motion to dismiss; the Ninth Circuit has held that there is no “conflict preemption” between the National Bank Act and the California law.The Ninth Circuit reversed. HOLA field preemption principles applied to the claims against Chase even though its conduct giving rise to the complaint occurred after it acquired the loans in question. Because California’s interest-on-escrow law imposed a requirement regarding escrow accounts; affected the terms of sale, purchase, investment in, and participation in loans originated by savings associations; and had more than an incidental effect on the lending operations of savings associations, it was preempted by 12 C.F.R. 560.2(b)(6) and (b)(10), and 560.2(c). View "McShannock v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA" on Justia Law

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Advanced Disposal Services South, LLC, Advanced Disposal Services Alabama Holdings, LLC, Advanced Disposal Services, Inc., Tallassee Waste Disposal Center, Inc., and Stone's Throw Landfill, LLC (collectively, "Advanced Disposal"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to order the Macon Circuit Court ("the trial court") to dismiss, an action filed by Jerry Tarver, Sr., because, they claimed, the action cannot proceed in the absence of the City of Tallassee ("the City") as a party. In May 2017, Tarver sued Advanced Disposal, the utilities board, and fictitiously named defendants seeking monetary damages as well as injunctive relief for exposure to allegedly contaminated water that had been illegally "discharged" into the river and ultimately sold by the utilities board for consumption by its customers. The complaint alleged Advanced Disposal unlawfully discharged its leachate into the City's stabilization pond, knowing that the leachate could not be properly treated before the resulting effluent was discharged into the river. Tarver also alleged Advanced Disposal discharged "pollutants" into various creeks and tributaries flowing into the river in violation of its storm-water discharge permit. The Alabama Supreme Court denied relief, finding that this action could proceed in equity and good conscience without the City. "The City's role in the underlying dispute potentially makes the City a joint tortfeasor with Advanced Disposal, the utilities board, and MCWA; it does not, however, make the City an indispensable party under the particular facts of this case." View "Ex parte Advanced Disposal Services South, LLC" on Justia Law

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Aaron Kyle Steward sued Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Nationwide"), seeking uninsured-motorist ("UM") benefits after he was injured in an accident at a publicly owned and operated all-terrain-vehicle ("ATV") park. The circuit court entered summary judgment in Steward's favor, ruling that the ATV that collided with the one on which he was riding was an "uninsured motor vehicle" for purposes of Steward's automobile-insurance policies with Nationwide, and Nationwide appealed. Because the Alabama Supreme Court concluded that the roads on which the accident occurred were "public roads" under the policies, judgment was affirmed. View "Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. Steward" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that the public trust doctrine does not permit the reallocation of rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation.This litigation stemmed from Mineral County's intervention in longstanding litigation over water rights in the Walker River Basin to protect and restore Walker Lake. Here, the Supreme Court was asked for the first time to consider whether the public trust doctrine permits reallocating water rights previously settled under Nevada's prior appropriation doctrine. The Supreme Court held that the doctrine, as implemented through the state's water statutes, does not permit reallocating water rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation. View "Mineral County v. Lyon County" on Justia Law

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Cash Aaland, Larry Bakko, and Penny Cirks (the “Landowners”) moved to stay, pending appeal, district court orders granting the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (the “District”) a right of entry onto their properties. In September and December 2019, the District contacted the Landowners seeking easements on their properties to conduct long-term monitoring for the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project (the “Project”). After the District failed to obtain these easements, it applied for a permit to enter the Landowners’ properties to monitor environmental impacts in connection with the Project through December 2021. The application provided that access to the Landowners’ properties was necessary to conduct examinations, surveys, and mapping, including geomorphic examinations requiring installation of survey monuments on certain properties. The Landowners opposed the District’s application. To the North Dakota Supreme Court, the Landowners argued that without a stay, they would suffer irreparable injury. Finding the Landowners would not suffer irreparable injury, the Court denied the motion to stay the district court orders. View "Cass County Joint Water Resource District v. Aaland, et al." on Justia Law

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Wagon Wheel Canyon Loop Trail (the Trail) is located in Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park (the Park), a public park owned and operated by Orange County, California. Before the incident at issue in this case, a wooden lodgepole fence ran perpendicularly across the mid-point of the eastern half of the Trail loop, serving as an entrance and exit for the Trail, and created a physical barrier cyclists had to maneuver around when riding either north or south on the Trail. Plaintiff Sean Nealy “had ridden his bicycle on and along [the Trail] several times in the past, [and] knew of the existence of the [perpendicular] wooden lodgepole fence." At some point unknown to plaintiff, the lodgepole fence was replaced with new fencing, which consisted of wooden fenceposts or “pylons” between which were strung horizontally, gray colored wire cables. Like the original lodgepole fence, the new perpendicular fence “divided” the southern and northern portions of the Trail loop, “separating each direction of travel.” However, the new fence actually ended before it reached the boundary of the Trail, and there was an opening between the fence’s western-most post and the parallel fencing at the western edge of the Trail. Plaintiff, an experienced cyclist, was riding his bicycle on the Trail. He noticed the lodgepole fence had been removed, but did not see the wire cables strung between the new fenceposts. He mistakenly believed he could ride between the fenceposts, but instead, rode directly into the wire cables, where he was thrown over the handlebars and onto the ground, resulting in serious injuries. He sued the County, alleging (1) Negligence (Premises Liability)”; and “(2) Dangerous Condition of Public Property.” County demurred, asserting plaintiff’s claims were barred both by Government Code section 831.4’s “trail immunity” and section 831.7’s “hazardous activity immunity.” The trial court sustained the demurrer based on trail immunity, finding the new fencing was a “condition” of the Trail for which County was statutorily immune. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "Nealy v. County of Orange" on Justia Law