Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Landowner Daniel Banyai appealed an Environmental Division decision upholding a notice of violation, granting a permanent injunction, and assessing $46,600 in fines, relating to alleged zoning violations and the construction of a firearms training facility in the Town of Pawlet. Banyai argued he had a valid permit, certain exhibits were improperly admitted at the merits hearing, and the fines were excessive. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the Environmental Division's decision. View "Town of Pawlet v. Banyai" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that no contract to settle a debt was formed in this case, that the implied-revocation doctrine is not constrained to real-property transactions, and that the settlement offer was impliedly revoked when the offeror assigned the underlying judgment.At issue in this contract dispute was whether a purported offer to settle a debt for a reduced sum was accepted before it was revoked. The issue's resolution turned on the parameters of the doctrine of implied revocation adopted by the Supreme Court in Antwine v. Reed, 199 S.W.2d 482 (Tex. 1947). The trial court granted summary judgment against the offeree. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the implied-revocation doctrine is not limited to offers involving the sale of land; and (2) the settlement offer in this case was impliedly revoked when the offeror assigned the underlying judgment to a third party for collection and the assignee gave the offeree a copy of the assignment agreement before the offeree accepted the settlement offer. View "Angel v. Tauch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming an order of the circuit court that domesticated a Mexican judgment in favor of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and against Daniel and Jane Hennessy, holding that Wells Fargo's judgment against the Hennessys was properly domesticated.On appeal, the Hennessys asserted that the circuit court erred in holding that the foreign judgment was valid and personally enforceable against them under Mexican law and erred in domesticating the Mexican judgment under principles of comity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Wisconsin principle that a foreign country's law must be proven before a circuit court as a question of fact is hereby affirmed; (2) the circuit court's interpretation of Mexican law was not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by choosing to recognize the Mexican judgment in Wisconsin. View "Hennessy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the circuit court's grant of First National Bank's (FNB) motion for summary judgment regarding FNB's foreclosure and replevin claims against Justin and Sharmin Inghram and denying FNB's request to dismiss the Inghrams' counterclaim for fraud, holding that the certification order in this case failed to satisfy Rule 54(b) requirements.The circuit court held that the Inghrams failed properly to resist FNB's summary judgment motion on its foreclosure and replevin claims and denied summary judgment on one of the Inghrams' counterclaims. After the court issued its final order and judgment, the Inghrams appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal based on the circuit court's order for Rule 54(b) certification, holding that the the circuit court abused its discretion in certifying the foreclosure and replevin claims as a final judgment under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-54(b). View "First National Bank v. Inghram" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's order concluding that because Jackson Lumber & Millwork Co. was both the mortgagee and the purchaser at the public sale of certain foreclosed property the fair market value of that property as established by an independent appraisal - rather than the value established by the highest bid at the public sale - was appropriate to determine the amount of any deficiency, holding that the superior court did not err.In ruling on Jackson Lumber's motion for approval of attachment and trustee process, the superior court concluded that Jackson Lumber was the "purchaser at the public sale" and that there was no recoverable deficiency given that the appraised value of the property exceeded the amount owed at the time of the foreclosure. At issue was whether Jackson Lumber was the "purchaser at the public sale" even though it did not ultimately acquire the property because it later assigned away its rights and never received the deed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not misinterpret the law or otherwise err or abuse its discretion in denying the motion for approval of attachment and trustee process as to the property. View "Jackson Lumber & Millwork Co. v. Rockwell Homes, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction Main St Properties LLC's (MSP) complaint seeking to enjoin a zoning ordinance adopted by the city council for the City of Bellevue, holding that the court erred in dismissing MSP's complaint.After MSP received a notice of zoning violation MSP appealed to the board of adjustment, which upheld the zoning violation. While MSP's appeal was pending, the city council approved an ordinance to rezone MSP's property. MSP then filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the City. The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because MSP failed to file a petition in error. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that the complaint was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Main St Properties LLC v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law

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Jeanne and Nevin Tergesen appealed a judgment dismissing their complaint and awarding Nelson Homes, Inc. damages for its breach of contract counterclaim. The Tergesens argued the district court erred in dismissing their rescission and breach of contract claims, and the court erroneously found the Tergesens breached the contract. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the Tergesens’ claims or finding the Tergesens breached the contract, but the court did err in calculating the amount of prejudgment interest on Nelson Homes’ damages. View "Tergesen, et al. v. Nelson Homes" on Justia Law

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Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation (“Enerplus”) appealed an amended judgment and adverse summary judgment orders which held it liable for suspending royalty payments to Meyer Family Mineral Trust, Joann Deryce Struthers Trust, and Steven J. Reed Living Trust (collectively, “Trust Defendants”). Victor Christensen owned land in Dunn County, North Dakota, including an area referred to as the “W1/2.” In 1952, he deeded a 5/128 royalty interest1 to Henry Roquette for all of the oil and gas produced from the W1/2 (“Roquette Deed”). Thereafter, Victor Christensen transferred his remaining interest in the W1/2 to his wife, Mildred Christensen. In 1957, Mildred Christensen deeded the W1/2 to Joe Reed and Deryce Reed, reserving a 4/5 mineral interest, and thereby conveying a 1/5 mineral interest to the Reeds. In 1968, Henry Roquette conveyed the 5/128 royalty interest to Mildred Christensen. The Vic Christensen Mineral Trust (“VCMT”) now owns the 4/5 mineral interest in the W1/2 that was formerly owned by Mildred Christensen. The Trust Defendants collectively owned the 1/5 mineral interest previously conveyed to the Reeds. Enerplus operated wells within the W1/2. A title examiner found a discrepancy with the land acreage in the Roquette Deed, which affected the size of the royalty interest. In October 2017, Enerplus informed VCMT and the Trust Defendants of these issues, required they enter into a stipulation clarifying their ownership interests, and suspended royalty payments to VCMT and the Trust Defendants. In 2019, VCMT sued the Trust Defendants to quiet title, alleging it owned the royalty interest on the Trust Defendants’ 1/5 mineral interest in the W1/2, and the royalty interest was larger than 5/128 based on the Roquette Deed. The Trust Defendants counterclaimed, alleging their 1/5 mineral interest had no royalty burden. VCMT and the Trust Defendants then stipulated to their interests with VCMT agreeing to forgo any rights to the royalty interest. Enerplus then paid VCMT and the Trust Defendants their suspended royalty payments. The Trust Defendants sought statutory interest from Enerplus for suspending their royalty payments. After cross-motions, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Trust Defendants and against Enerplus. Enerplus argued it was justified in suspending payments under N.D.C.C. 47-16-39.1, which allowed for suspending payments in the event of a dispute of title. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court agreed and revered the district court's orders. View "Vic Christensen Mineral Trust v. Enerplus Resources Corp., et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing a bill of review after determining that the underlying matter was an action at law and that a bill of review was inappropriate, holding that the circuit court erred.The City of Petersburg brought an action against the Emmanuel Worship Center and its trustees (collectively, EWC) for delinquent taxes. The circuit court found that EWC owed the City for delinquent real estate taxes and then issued a decree of sale. EWC paid to redeem its property and then filed a bill of review seeking reversal or modification of the decree of sale and an award of the amounts it had paid to the City, arguing that it was constitutionally exempt from paying real estate taxes because the property was owned and used exclusively for religious purposes. The circuit court denied the bill of review. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the circuit court (1) erred in determining that the underlying action was an action at law, and (2) erred in holding that because more than three years had passed since the taxes were assessed they were beyond review. View "Emmanuel Worship Center v. City of Petersburg" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit in 2014, alleging that Little Rock Ranch, which had proceeded to develop and plant an irrigated walnut orchard, was trespassing on 3.44 acres of plaintiffs' property. Although the trial court found that Little Rock Ranch was trespassing by encroachment on plaintiffs' property, the trial court applied the defense of laches and the "relative hardship" doctrine, denying injunctive relief to plaintiffs. The trial court fashioned an alternative equitable remedy: Little Rock Ranch was required to pay damages to plaintiffs and undertake corrective action to limit erosion of the now-excavated hillside, while plaintiffs were required to deed the strip of land at issue to Little Rock Ranch. The trial court also found the trespass by Little Rock Ranch was permanent such that the appropriate measure of damages was "diminution in value" damages, rather than other alternative measures.The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that case law supports the trial court's conclusion that Little Rock Ranch's excavation of plaintiffs' hillside and encroachment amounted to a permanent trespass. Furthermore, the court found no error in the trial court's determination that the trespass was permanent and, in turn, to award damages based on the diminution in value of plaintiffs' property absent the 3.44 acres. Finally, there is no merit in plaintiffs' claim that the trial court erred in not awarding additional damages for conversion of dirt excavated from their property. View "Johnson v. Little Rock Ranch, LLC" on Justia Law