Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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In 2015, the owners of a 13,000-acre tract of land known as 70 Ranch successfully petitioned to include their tract in a special district. After 70 Ranch was incorporated into the district, the district began taxing the leaseholders of subsurface mineral rights, Bill Barrett Corporation, Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc., and Noble Energy, Inc. for the oil and gas they produced at wellheads located on 70 Ranch. The Lessees, however, objected to being taxed, arguing the mineral interests they leased could not be included in the special district because neither they nor the owners of the mineral estates consented to inclusion, which they asserted was required by section 32-1-401(1)(a), C.R.S. (2019), of the Special District Act. The Colorado Supreme Court determined that section 401(1)(a) permitted the inclusion of real property covered by the statute into a special taxing district when (1) the inclusion occurred without notice to or consent by the property’s owners and (2) that property was not capable of being served by the district. The Court answered "no," however, 32-1-401(1)(a) required the assent of all of the surface property owners to an inclusion under that provision, and inclusion was only appropriate if the surface property could be served by the district. "Section 32-1-401(1)(a) does not require assent from owners of subsurface mineral estates because those mineral estates, while they are real property, are not territory. Thus, Lessees’ consent was not required for the inclusion of 70 Ranch in the special district." The Court therefore affirmed the court of appeals on alternate grounds. View "Barrett Corp. v. Lembke" on Justia Law

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Defendant, MontChilly, Inc., appealed a trial court’s order requiring it to remove portions of a fence that interfered with plaintiff VTRE Investments, LLC's easement for ingress and egress. MontChilly also contended the trial court improperly failed to issue a ruling on its counterclaim for trespass against plaintiff for parking on MontChilly’s property without any legal right to do so. On cross-appeal, plaintiff challenged the court’s holding that it was bound by a reciprocal easement allowing a drainpipe over its property on the ground that its predecessor in interest did not sign the instrument creating the easement. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order requiring MontChilly to remove portions of its fence, and remanded for the court to enter judgment on MontChilly’s trespass counterclaim. With respect to VTRE’s cross-appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the court’s judgment. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "VTRE Investments, LLC v. MontChilly, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case about the enforceability about a mortgage clause the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the district court dismissing this action, holding that any language in the mortgage agreement between the mortgagor and mortgagee that would give the mortgagee the ability to take possession of the property was unenforceable in light of the Supreme Court's historical interpretation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 58-2301.The mortgage clause at issue granted to the mortgagee/lender the right to immediate and exclusive possession of the mortgaged property upon the event of the mortgagor/borrower's default. In reliance on the clause the mortgagee took possession of the property and filed a foreclosure action. The district court granted judgment in favor of the mortgagee. The mortgagor filed suit, asserting that, before the court order authorized the mortgagee's possession of the property, the mortgagee's possession was wrongful. The district court dismissed the action on the basis of the mortgage remedies provision and the mortgagor's default. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of executory agreements was unsupported by Kansas law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no support in state law for the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of the executory agreements. View "Fairfax Portfolio LLC v. Carojoto LLC" on Justia Law

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Windsor I, LLC appealed a superior court's decision to grant defendants' CWCapital Asset Management LLC (“CWCAM”) and U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”) motion to dismiss. Windsor owned a 48,000 square foot commercial property and building encumbered by debt eventually held by U.S. Bank. In 2015, after learning that the Property’s sole tenant intended to vacate, Windsor sought special servicing to refinance the debt. After nearly two years of negotiation and litigation, CWCAM, the special servicer, offered to sell the loan to Windsor in a proposed transaction for $5,288,000, subject to credit committee approval. The credit committee, however, rejected the transaction, and Defendants filed a foreclosure action against Windsor in 2017. Defendants thereafter held an online auction to sell the loan. A Windsor representative participated in the auction. After the auction, Defendants sold the loan to a third party, WM Capital Partners 66 LLC (“WM Capital”), and Windsor ultimately paid $7.4 million to WM Capital in full satisfaction of the loan. In its action seeking relief based upon quasi-contractual theories of promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment, Windsor alleged that but for the credit committee’s arbitrary rejection of the proposed transaction, Windsor would have purchased the note and loan nearly a year earlier for over $2,112,000 less than it paid to WM Capital. The Superior Court ultimately held that Windsor failed to state claims for promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment, and that the claims were barred because Windsor’s representative had agreed to a general release as part of an auction bidding process. Finding no reversible error, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Windsor I, LLC v. CWCapital Asset Mgmt, LLC" on Justia Law