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Defendant-borrowers Skip and Paris Watts appealed the trial court’s summary judgment decision in favor of plaintiff-lender Deutsche Bank National Trust Company in this mortgage foreclosure action. They argued that the trial court erred by finding that a dismissal with prejudice under Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) was not an adjudication on the merits given preclusive effect in a foreclosure action. Lender argues in response that earlier decisions of this Court that gave preclusive effect to the dismissal of foreclosure actions should be applied only prospectively and not to this case. Defendants entered into the mortgage at issue here in 2006. They failed to make payments in 2008. The lender accelerated payments and called for the note in late 2008. Foreclosure proceedings were initiated, and publication by service was completed in early 2010. Borrowrs did not file an answer to the complaint. The case sat for approximately one year; the trial court dismissed the case in July 2011. Following the dismissal, the borrowers attempted to find a solution that would allow the borrowers to resume payments. The Lender then filed suit again in 2013, alleging the borrowers defaulted on the 2008 promissory note. Borrowers answered the complaint, arguing that the 2013 action was precluded by res judicata by the 2009 action. The trial court granted lender’s motion, applying equitable principles to find that the 2011 dismissal was not a preclusive adjudication on the merits but that lender was entitled to recover interest only if it was due after the date of lender’s first, 2009, complaint against borrowers. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed, finding that the lender did not advance a new default theory by refiling its 2009 case in 2013. Therefore, its claims were precluded by the dismissal of the 2009 case. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Watts" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Aristea Hupp (Aristea) appealed after the trial court granted defendants Solera Oak Valley Greens Association and City of Beaumont Animal Control Officer Jack Huntsman’s ex parte application to dismiss Aristea’s first amended complaint (FAC) as a vexatious litigant. Aristea argued: (1) the trial court’s order granting Solera’s ex parte application to dismiss deprived her of her due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard; (2) Solera waived its vexatious litigant defense by not raising it in its first responsive pleading; and (3) under the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Davis-Stirling Act), she was authorized to seek recovery of damages sustained by her son, Paul Hupp (Paul), from violations of Solera’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). In 2014, Paul was declared a vexatious litigant. In 2015, Aristea and Paul filed a complaint against Solera over enforcing a community rule regarding muzzling of Pit Bulls on properties within the Solera community. The Hupps walked their dogs through the community without a muzzle. The Hupps argued the rule was only applied to the Hupps, and that Solera could not single out any one breed. After review, the Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal as to all claims alleged in the FAC which were brought by or for the benefit of Paul, on the ground he has been declared a vexatious litigant. Because Aristea had not been declared a vexatious litigant, the judgment of dismissal was reversed as to all claims in the FAC that were solely personal to Aristea. View "Hupp v. Solera Oak Valley Greens Assn." on Justia Law

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The St. Croix River, part of the boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota, is protected under federal, state, and local law. State and local regulations prevent the use or sale of adjacent riverside lots under common ownership as separate building sites unless they have at least one acre of land suitable for development. Petitioners’ parents purchased adjacent Troy, Wisconsin lots separately in the 1960s, and transferred one lot to petitioners in 1994 and the other to petitioners in 1995. Each lot is over one acre, but because of the topography, each has less than one acre suitable for development; common ownership barred their separate sale or development. Petitioners unsuccessfully sought variances, then filed suit, alleging a regulatory taking. The state courts and U.S. Supreme Court rejected the claims, regarding the property as a single unit in assessing the effect of the challenged governmental action. The Court noted the flexibility inherent in regulatory takings jurisprudence. Courts must consider several factors. Wisconsin’s merger provision is a legitimate exercise of state power and the valid merger of the lots under state law informs the reasonable expectation that the lots will be treated as a single property. The lots are contiguous. Their terrain and shape make it reasonable to expect their range of potential uses might be limited. Petitioners could have anticipated regulation of the property, given its location along the river, which was regulated by federal, state, and local law long before they acquired the land. The restriction is mitigated by the benefits of using the property as an integrated whole, allowing increased privacy and recreational space, plus an optimal location for any improvements. This relationship is evident in the lots’ combined valuation. View "Murr v. Wisconsin" on Justia Law

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The circuit court and Court of Special Appeals affirmed the decision of the Howard County Board of Appeals approving a conditional use application for a funeral home in Howard County’s Rural Residential-Density Exchange Option zone. The Howard County Board of Appeals hearing examiner initially denied the proposed conditional use plan, but after public hearings and two revisions, the Board approved the conditional use application subject to several conditions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Board properly analyzed the revised plan pursuant to the relevant statutory requirements; (2) the Board did not err in concluding that the revised plan would not create an adverse cultural impact on vicinal properties or that such impact will be beyond those ordinarily associated with funeral home and mortuary uses; and (3) substantial evidence supported the Board’s conclusion that the revised plan contemplated a 100-foot stream buffer in compliance with state requirements. View "Clarksville Residents Against Mortuary Defense Fund, Inc. v. Donaldson Properties" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a judgment entered in the district court ordering Plaintiff to pay Defendant’s legal fees and costs after dismissal of Plaintiff’s foreclosure action against Defendant with prejudice. The court held (1) the district court did not err when it concluded that it had the authority to award Defendant attorney fees and costs pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6101, and Plaintiff did not preserve for appeal its argument that it was not “the mortgagee” according to section 6101 and therefore that the statute could not apply; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in setting the amount of fees owed and by including in the attorney fees award fees Defendant incurred pursuing an appeal. View "Homeward Residential, Inc. v. Gregor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s fraudulent transfer complaint as having been filed outside the applicable statute of limitations, holding that the court should have treated the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff brought a complaint against Defendants alleging violations of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the applicable six-year statute of limitations ran one day before the date that Plaintiff’s complaint was filed. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court held that Plaintiff’s submission of extrinsic evidence converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment, and accordingly, the court erred in failing to proceed with the summary judgment process. View "Acadia Resources, Inc. v. VMS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The amendment to Ohio Rev. Code 5713.03 enacted in 2012 (H.B. 487) applied to the circumstances of this case and required a remand to the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) for further consideration. At issue here was a 2013 real property valuation for a lease-encumbered property that had been the subject of recent arm’s-length sales. The Supreme Court held that the H.B. 487 amendment required the BTA to determine the value of the subject property’s unencumbered fee-simple estate. Because the BTA did not properly consider appraisal evidence that purported to explain why the subject property’s recent sale price did not reflect the value of the unencumbered fee-simple estate, the court vacated the BTA’s decision and remanded the case for the BTA to address and weigh the evidence before it. View "Terraza 8, LLC v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a developer, appealed a decision of Defendant, a planning and zoning commission, denied Plaintiff’s application for an affordable housing subdivision pursuant to the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-30g. The trial court sustained Plaintiff’s administrative appeal. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the commission was required to grant Plaintiff’s application for subdivision approval despite the application’s lack of compliance with a municipal road ordinance; and (2) the trial court properly ordered the commission to approve Plaintiff’s application “as is” rather than for consideration of conditions of approval. View "Brenmor Properties, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission of Town of Lisbon" on Justia Law

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Rocky and Delores Fletcher (“the Fletchers”) appealed a district court judgment in which they sought a declaratory judgment outlining the rights and responsibilities of property owners in the Twin Lakes Meadows Subdivision (“Subdivision”) with respect to a private road known as Lone Mountain Road (“Subdivision Road” or “the Road”). The district court determined that the Subdivision’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) were ambiguous and contrary to Idaho easement law. After finding that the CC&Rs were ambiguous, the district court declared that all lot owners who used the Road had the right to make reasonable repairs to the Road. The Fletchers argued on appeal the district court erred when it found the CC&Rs to be ambiguous and that they should be strictly applied. The Fletchers also argued the district court erred when it failed to declare that dust from the Road created an additional burden on their servient estate and by failing to declare that the Lone Mountain Road Association had no right to maintain the Road or to collect assessments. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court as to its findings that the CC&Rs were ambiguous and there was a waiver of the right to obtain contributions from lot owners that do not use the Road. The Court affirmed the district court’s judgment that road dust did not create an additional burden on the Fletchers’ estate. View "Fletcher v. Lone Mountain Rd Assoc" on Justia Law

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The Sisters own Blue Island buildings: a convent, a church, and a boarding school that closed long ago. The buildings were used as a public high school until 2009. Affordable wanted to use the buildings as a recovery home, providing lodging, meals, job training, religious outreach, and other services to adult men fighting drug or alcohol addiction. The Sisters agreed; the few remaining nuns would continue to occupy the convent and the Sisters would obtain rental income. Occupancy would prevent vandalism. With the mayor’s approval, Affordable moved 14 staff members into the buildings. The city required installation of a sprinkler system in the sleeping rooms. Affordable had already moved in 73 men without the required special‐use permit. Affordable filed suit. The court denied a preliminary injunction. The residents vacated. Four subsequently suffered fatal overdoses. Affordable obtained a recovery house license from the Illinois Department of Human Services, which does not require sprinklers in buildings fewer than four stories high. The court granted Affordable partial summary judgment on preemption grounds but rejected claims under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have been entitled Affordable to damages and attorneys’ fees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Affordable did not argue that the sprinkler requirement would have substantially burdened its religious exercise even if it had complied. Affordable was not excluded from Blue Island or even required to install a sprinkler system. View "Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island" on Justia Law