Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The federal district court for the District of North Dakota certified five questions regarding N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) and North Dakota Industrial Commission pooling orders. The litigation before the federal court involved allocation of mineral royalties in the case of overlapping oil and gas spacing units. Allen and Arlen Dominek owned oil and gas interests in Williams County, North Dakota. In 2011, the North Dakota Industrial Commission pooled the interests in Section 13 on the Dominek property with the interests in Section 24 in a 1280-acre spacing unit (the “Underlying Spacing Unit”). In 2016, the Commission pooled the interests in Sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 in a 2560-acre spacing unit (the “Overlapping Spacing Unit). The "Weisz" well terminated in the southeast corner of Section 14. The Defendants (together “Equinor”) operated the Weisz well. The Domineks sued Equinor in federal district court to recover revenue proceeds from the Weisz well. The parties agreed production from the Weisz well should have been allocated equally to the four sections comprising the Overlapping Spacing Unit. Their disagreement was whether the 25% attributable to Section 13 should have been shared with the interest owners in Section 24 given those sections were pooled in the Underlying Spacing Unit. In response to the motions, the federal district court certified five questions to the North Dakota Court. Responding "no" to the first: whether language from N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) required production from Section 13 to be allocated to Section 24, the Supreme Court declined to answer the remaining questions because it found they were based on an assumption that the Commission had jurisdiction to direct how production was allocated among mineral interest owners. "Questions concerning correlative rights and the Commission’s jurisdiction entail factual considerations. ... An undeveloped record exposes this Court 'to the danger of improvidently deciding issues and of not sufficiently contemplating ramifications of the opinion.'” View "Dominek, et al. v. Equinor Energy, et al." on Justia Law

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The 1985 “Manning Lease” granted the lessee rights to oil and gas on an approximately 100-acre tract of land in Bowling Green that is adjacent to a quarry. There is a long-expired one-year term, followed by a second term that conditions the maintenance of the leasehold interest on the production of oil or gas by the lessee. Bluegrass now owns the property. Believing that lessees were producing an insufficient quantity of oil to justify maintaining the lease, Bluegrass purported to terminate the lease and sought a declaration that the lease had terminated by its own terms while asserting several other related claims.The district court found that Bluegrass’s termination of the lease was improper and granted the lessees summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded. There is a factual dispute regarding whether the lease terminated by its own terms. The trier of fact must determine if the lessee has produced oil in paying quantities after considering all the evidence. There is a material factual dispute about whether the lessee ceased producing oil for a period of time, and, if so, whether that period of time was unreasonable. View "Bluegrass Materials Co., LLC v. Freeman" on Justia Law

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In this action concerning a disputed agreement between between Kenneth and Rebecca Goens and Lynn VanSloten for the sale of an empty lot, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction under S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3, holding that the underlying interlocutory judgment was not a final judgment under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-54(b) and was therefore not appealable.Kenneth delivered the purchase agreement at issue and VanSloten's earnest money check to FDT, LLC with the intention that FDT act as the closing agent for the property sale. When a dispute arose regarding the earnest money check and purchase agreement the Goenses filed a complaint against FDT and VanSloten. VanSloten asserted a counterclaim against the Goenses. The circuit court granted FDT's motion for summary judgment against the Goenses, but the order did not resolve the remaining claims or contain any certification under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-54(b). The Goenses appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that because active claims remained in this action at the time of appeal and no Rule 54(b) certification was made, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction under S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3. View "Goens v. FDT, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure action arising under the Small Tract Financing Act (STFA), the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying Plaintiffs' cross motion for summary judgment, holding that the STFA does not contain an indication that a trustee is barred from delegating certain notice duties to agents.Thomas and Mindy Pennell entered into a deed of trust under the STFA to secure financing to purchase certain property. The deed of trust was later assigned to Nationstar Mortgage, which appointed First American Title Company of Montana as successor trustee. When the Pennells defaulted, First American began foreclosure proceedings. Daniel Inman purchased the property at a trustee's sale, and First American executed a trustee's deed conveying the property to him. The Pennells then filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a declaration that the trustee's sale and resulting trustee's deed were void because First American failed to follow the requirements of the STFA. The district court granted summary judgment for Nationstar. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Pennells' argument that an indenture trustee is prohibited under the STFA from delegating its notice duties to an agent was without merit; and (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of Nationstar. View "Pennell v. Nationstar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, for purposes of New York's Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) 9-406, an "assignee" includes the holder of a presently exercisable security interest in an assignor's receivables.New Style Contractors, Inc. engaged Checkmate Communications LLC as a subcontractor. Pursuant to a promissory note and security agreement, Checkmate could borrow up to $3 million from Worthy Lending LLC. Checkmate granted Worthy a security interest in its assets, and Worthy filed a UCC-1 financing statement against Checkmate perfecting its secured position regarding Checkmate's assets. Worthy then sent New Style a notice of its security interest and collateral assignment in the New Style accounts. When Checkmate defaulted on the note and filed for bankruptcy. Worthy brought this action against New Style pursuant to UCC 9-607, alleging that Worthy was entitled to recover all amounts New Style owed to Checkmate after New Style's receipt of the notice of assignment. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Worthy did not have an independent cause of action against New Style pursuant to UCC 9-607 because the statute does not authorized a secured creditor as distinct from an assigned, to recover from a nonparty debtor like New Style. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the language of the statute required reversal. View "Worthy Lending LLC v. New Style Contractors, Inc." on Justia Law

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In January 2020, Plaintiff sued Iberostar under the Helms-Burton Act, which grants the right to sue companies trafficking in property confiscated by the Cuban government. Plaintiff claims that Cuba seized her family’s hotel in 1961 and that Iberostar and the Cuban government now operate the hotel together.Iberostar successfully sought a stay of the proceedings, citing a regulation that prohibits participation in Helms-Burton suits—on pain of a fine that could reach 600,000 euros. Two years have passed since the stay, and Plaintiff sought to lift the stay. The district court denied her request.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's decision, vacated the stay, and remanded the case with instructions it proceed. The court noted that the stay was indefinite and that the European Union agency tasked with resolving the matter has no timeline for its decision. As a result, the court concluded that the stay is immoderate and must be vacated. View "Maria Dolores Canto Marti v. Iberostar Hoteles Y Apartamentos SL" on Justia Law

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In a partition action, a trial court appointed defendant Charles Brock, a real estate broker, to determine the listing price and sell the property. Plaintiff Darrell Holt, one of the real property’s owners, brought this action contending Brock violated fiduciary duties and committed other torts in the performance of his court-appointed role. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Brock, concluding he was protected under quasi-judicial immunity. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed that conclusion. View "Holt v. Brock" on Justia Law

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Defendant Merlyn Clay appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Charles Chavis, Clay's grandfather. The dispute concerned Clay's purchase of real property from Chavis and Clay's alleged failure to fulfill certain requirements of a sale contract for the real property executed by the parties. The Alabama Supreme Court found there were several discrepancies between the stated terms of the sale contract and the terms the parties agreed were part of the transaction, as well as discrepancies between the stated terms of the sale contract and the performance of the parties. "Those discrepancies are crucial to the outcome of this dispute because Chavis's claims are premised on the contention that Clay breached the sale contract by failing to provide a promissory note and a mortgage and by ceasing to make monthly loan payments to Chavis. Yet, under the terms of the sale contract, Chavis likewise did not provide the deed to the river property in a timely manner, and the sale contract does not expressly state that Clay had to make monthly loan payments. Those discrepancies are also crucial to the relief granted to Chavis by the circuit court." Judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further findings and proceedings. View "Clay v. Chavis." on Justia Law

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A mother, son, and daughter conveyed real property among themselves by competing deeds. The daughter used the property as security for two bank loans and defaulted on the second one; when the bank attempted foreclosure, the son, claiming to be the property’s owner, brought suit against the bank on a constructive notice theory, also alleging that the daughter’s deed to the property was void because of fraud. The superior court found that the bank lacked notice of the son’s alleged adverse interest and granted it summary judgment as a bona fide lender. The court also dismissed the fraud claim. The son appealed. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the bank’s bona fide lender status, but remanded for a determination of whether the daughter acquired her deed as a result of fraud in the factum, which, if proven, would render her title and the bank’s mortgage interest void. View "Eriksson v. Eriksson Sibley et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified as affirmed the decision of the court of appeals to vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case, holding that the judgment must be modified to vacate the trial court's judgment and dismiss the case.In this real property dispute, the Mortgagee set a foreclosure sale and then filed this suit seeking temporary and permanent injunctive and declaratory relief. The trial court entered a temporary restraining order one day before the scheduled foreclosure sale and then granted summary judgment for the Mortgagee. Before Appellant appealed, the Mortgagee posted the property for foreclosure sale and then purchased it at the sale. When Appellant appealed, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that Appellant's loss of ownership of the property rendered the appeal moot. The Supreme Court modified as affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly concluded that dismissal was required but should have vacated the trial court's judgment and dismissed the case. View "Alsobrook v. MTGLQ Investors, LP" on Justia Law