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In these consolidated appeals requiring the Supreme Court to interpret various provisions of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Rule (WVSCMRR), W.Va. CSR 38-2-1, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in finding that the WVSCMRR does not require a coal company, in its application for modification of its mining permit, to demonstrate compliance with the Utility Protection Standard found at W.Va. 38-2-14.17; (2) did not err in ruling that the permit application sufficiently described how the coal operator would comply with the Utility Protection Standard; but (3) erred in finding that the WVSCMRR applied regardless of a coal operator’s common law property rights. View "Texas Eastern Transmission v. W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of Patricia and Robert Porenta’s marital home to Patricia in this case involving a fraudulent transfer of the home to Robert’s mother (Mother). During the divorce proceedings of Patricia and Robert, Robert transferred his interest in the couple’s marital home to Mother with the intent to avoid Patricia’s claim to the home. Robert subsequently died, and the divorce case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Thereafter, Patricia filed this action against Mother alleging that the transfer was fraudulent under the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act. The district court granted the marital home to Patricia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act requires an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship when a claim under the Act is filed, and the debtor-creditor relationship was in this case was not extinguished when Robert died because an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship existed between Patricia and Robert’s estate; and (2) the trial court did not err in granting Patricia the entire marital home rather than money damages, but the matter is remanded for a determination of the current status of title. View "Porenta v. Porenta" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ralphs Grocery Company and related subsidiaries (Ralphs) appealed an order striking their complaint against respondents Victory Consultants, Inc. (Victory) and Jerry Mailhot under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP law). Appellants contended the superior court erred in determining their complaint, which alleged a cause of action for trespass, arose out of activity protected by the anti-SLAPP law, and by concluding they failed to demonstrate a probability of succeeding on the merits of that cause of action. After review of the complaint, the Court of Appeal agreed with Appellants: respondents have not shown Appellants' cause of action for trespass arises out of protected activity. The acts constituting trespass were not protected activity. Although Respondents argued that Appellants were suing them based upon petitioning activity, which would typically be protected, such activity was occurring on private property. “Respondents have provided no persuasive argument that their activity occurring on such private property is protected. Additionally, even if we were to reach the second question under an anti-SLAPP analysis, we would conclude Appellants carried their minimal burden of showing a probability of succeeding on the merits.” The Court, therefore, reversed the order. View "Ralphs Grocery Co. v. Victory Consultants, Inc." on Justia Law

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Homeowner-plaintiffs Michelle and Robert Russell appealed a superior court order denying their summary judgment motion and granting that of insurer-defendant NGM Insurance Company. On appeal, the homeowners argued the trial court erred when it determined that their homeowners’ insurance policy provided no coverage for the additional living expenses they incurred when they were unable to live in their home because of mold contamination. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Russell NGM Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the water court that largely adopted the water master’s report dividing the four water rights for irrigation from Nevada Creek between James and Linda Quigley and Richard Beck based on a ratio of the irrigated acres owned by each party. The court held (1) the water court did not err in its interpretation of the 1909 Geary v. Raymond decree as decreeing water rights for irrigation to all of Finn Ranch, which was since divided into adjoining ranches owned by the Quigley and Beck; and (2) the water court did not err in applying the clear error standard to the water master’s findings of fact. View "Quigley v. Beck" on Justia Law

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At issue was the admissibility of expert testimony valuing wetland property for the purpose of just compensation in a condemnation proceeding where the highest and best use of the wetlands was determined to be the development of a wetlands mitigation bank. The Supreme Court held (1) the highest and best use of the wetland property as a mitigation bank may be considered in a condemnation proceeding to the extent that such a factor would be weighed in negotiations between private persons participating in a voluntary sale and purchase of the land at the time it was taken; (2) however, the market price of mitigation credits that ultimately may be produced from the property cannot be the sole basis for measuring the land’s value in determining just compensation; and (3) because the expert testimony at issue in this case provided a value that was based solely upon the market price of mitigation credits that could be developed from the land, as opposed to the fair market value of the land itself in a voluntary transaction between a knowledgeable buyer and seller, the circuit court erred in admitting that testimony. The court remanded the case for a new trial. View "W. Va. Department of Transportation, Division of Highways v. CDS Family Trust, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was the Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) denial of Plaintiff’s application for a comprehensive permit to develop a mixed-income project. Plaintiff owned parcel of land in an area zoned for limited manufacturing use. The site was subject to a restrictive covenant owned by the city of Newton, and the city owned an abutting parcel with a deed restriction requiring that it be used only for conservation, parkland, or recreational use. Plaintiff sought to amend the deed restriction to allow a residential use at the site and to permit construction in the nonbuild zone. The ZBA denied Plaintiff’s permit application, concluding that it lacked authority to amend the deed restriction, an interest in land held by the city. The Department of Housing and Community Development (HAC) affirmed. Plaintiff sought judicial review. A land court judge granted Defendants’ motions for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that the HAC does not have authority to order the city to relinquish its property interest. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the negative easement is a property interest in land, and the ZBA does not have authority modify certain types of property interests in land; and (2) the restrictive covenant is not invalid where the restrictions provide valuable interests to the city. View "135 Wells Avenue, LLC v. Housing Appeals Committee" on Justia Law

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Leigh Shelton, as the personal representative of the estate of Margaret Blansit, deceased, appealed a judgment in favor of I.E. Green in a personal-injury action brought by Shelton seeking damages for injuries Blansit allegedly suffered in a slip-and-fall accident at Green's residence. Before Shelton filed her complaint, Blansit died of causes unrelated to the fall. Green filed a motion for a judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Blansit's cause of action abated upon her death. The trial court agreed and granted Green's motion. Shelton appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed. View "Shelton v. Green" on Justia Law

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In the underlying property tax appeal, the Tax Court rejected a request by the Department of Revenue and the county assessor to increase the real market value of taxpayer’s property, and the court later awarded taxpayer attorney fees against the department under ORS 305.490(4)(a). The department appealed the attorney fee award only. The Oregon Supreme Court determined that even though the Tax Court also rejected the taxpayer’s request for a reduction in real market value, the legal prerequisite for a discretionary attorney fee award under that statute was met. The Supreme Court also concluded that the Tax Court did not err in applying most of the factors on which it relied in making the fee award. However, the Court concluded that the lower court’s use of one factor was erroneous, thus bringing into question the court’s overall exercise of discretion. Accordingly, the fee award was vacated and the matter remanded for the court to exercise its discretion without considering that factor. View "Ellison v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred when it applied de novo review to a decision of the America Township Board of Supervisors and then reversed the Board’s decision downgrading a seven-mile stretch of road from full maintenance to minimum maintenance. A portion of the road at issue provided Appellees access to South Dakota Highway 50. Appellees appealed the Board’s decision. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered that minimum maintenance signs be taken down. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Appellees’ lawsuit was not barred by lack of standing or by sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the Board acted arbitrarily because the Board failed to consider an important aspect of the issue under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1.1; but (3) the circuit court should have remanded the matter back to the Board for a rehearing rather than applying de novo review to the Board’s decision. View "Surat v. America Township" on Justia Law