Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

by
House owns an organic farm, adjacent to the Property, formerly owned by Moller. In 2002, House entered into a six-year lease with Moller for 35 farmable acres, containing a renewal option and a right of first refusal. House converted the Property to certified organic status. In 2007, Moller, with no notice to House, agreed to sell the Property to Foss. Foss, a licensed real estate agent, prepared the agreement, which did not contain a fixed closing date. House became aware of the agreement, notified Foss about the right of first refusal, and sued Moller. While the lease remained in effect, Foss entered the Property and sprayed nonorganic herbicides, cut down trees, and altered the fencing. House sued Foss. Moller filed for bankruptcy. The Property was foreclosed on and sold to a third party in 2015. The trial court found Foss liable for inducing a breach of contract, intentionally interfering with House’s prospective economic advantage, conversion, trespass, and negligence and awarded compensatory damages of $1,669,705 and $1,000 in punitive damages. House sought attorney fees and costs. The court denied the motion. The court of appeal remanded for a determination of reasonable attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure 1021.9, which refers to “any action to recover damages to personal or real property resulting from trespassing on lands either under cultivation or intended or used for the raising of livestock.” The damages award is supported by substantial evidence. View "Kelly v. House" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Robert Weimer, Jr., purchased real property in Carnelian Bay in 1993. He refinanced the mortgage in 2006 with a loan from defendant Bank of America, N.A. (BANA). After defaulting, plaintiff entered into a loan modification process with BANA. Subsequently, loan servicing was transferred, successively, to defendants Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (SLS) and Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (Nationstar). According to plaintiff, BANA, SLS, and Nationstar successively each engaged in deliberate and negligent misconduct in the loan modification process. In 2014, BANA transferred beneficial interest in the loan to defendant U.S. Bank, N. A. (U.S. Bank), as trustee for the Certificateholders of Banc of America Funding Corporation Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2007-7. Eventually, Nationstar, acting as U.S. Bank’s agent, recorded a notice of trustee’s sale and had an agent enter onto the property and change the locks. After plaintiff commenced this action, BANA, U.S. Bank, and Nationstar demurred to a first amended complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend as to BANA, concluding that the action against it was time-barred. As to the other defendants, the court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, asserting intentional and negligent misrepresentation, negligence, trespass to land, seeking declaratory relief, and asserting violations of the unfair competition law. U.S. Bank and Nationstar demurred, SLS separately demurred, and the trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend. On appeal, plaintiff contended the trial court erred in concluding that the action against BANA was time-barred because BANA’s actions were part of a civil conspiracy with the other defendants, and the timeliness of plaintiff’s action against BANA must be measured from the last overt act. Plaintiff further asserted the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrers to the second amended complaint because he sufficiently stated each cause of action. Furthermore, plaintiff asserted the trial court should have granted him leave to amend, however, he largely contended his complaint required no amendment. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded that the action as asserted against BANA was indeed time-barred. The Court further concluded plaintiff sufficiently stated causes of action sounding in intentional and negligent misrepresentation and violations of the unfair competition law against the remaining defendants. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court concluded the remaining defendants had a duty of care and that plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action for negligence against them. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgments of dismissal as to U.S. Bank, SLS, and Nationstar and reversed the orders sustaining the demurrers as to the causes of action in the second amended complaint for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of the unfair competition law. In all other respects, the judgments were affirmed. View "Weimer v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that a voluntary dismissal with prejudice generally conveys "prevailing party" status upon the defendant for purposes of an award of attorney fees and costs under Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.010(2) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.020, but district courts should consider the circumstances surrounding the voluntary dismissal with prejudice in determining whether the dismissal conveys prevailing party status. The Residences at MGM Grand - Tower A Owners' Association (the Association) was sued after it was discovered that a unit at The Signature at MGM Grand had mold damage. The Association requested dismissal from the case because it was not a proper party to the action. Eventually, the parties stipulated to dismiss the Association from the case with prejudice. Thereafter, the Association moved for attorney fees and costs. The Trust argued that the Association could not be considered a prevailing party because the case had not proceeded to judgment. The district court concluded that the Association was the prevailing party and awarded attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under the facts of this case, the dismissal with prejudice was substantively a judgment on the merits, and therefore, the Association was a prevailing party for purposes of sections 18.010(2) and 18.020. View "145 East Harmon II Trust v. Residences at MGM Grand" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank seeking to foreclose on a defaulted loan, holding that because U.S. Bank presented evidence to meet its burden to show that the original note was lost, it was entitled to enforce the note because the facts established that the action may proceed. U.S. Bank acquired the deed of trust secured by Appellant's residence and sought to foreclose on the defaulted loan. The original lender did not execute an assignment of the note to U.S. Bank when assigning the deed of trust to U.S. Bank. The loan servicer, however, swore an affidavit certifying that the note was lost. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because U.S. Bank showed by a preponderance of the evidence that it acquired ownership of the note from a party that had the right to enforce it, that the note was not lost as a result of a transfer or lawful seizure, and that the note could not be reasonably obtained, U.S. Bank satisfied the requirements of Nev. Rev. Stat. 104.3309 and was entitled to seek a judicial foreclosure on Appellant's default. View "Jones v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court's judgment dismissing with prejudice the foreclosure complaint filed by a Bank and affirmed the order of sanctions imposed on the Bank, holding that the complaint should have been dismissed without prejudice. On remand from the Supreme Judicial Court, the superior court granted the Bank's motion to voluntarily dismiss its foreclosure complaint without prejudice. Thomas Manning filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's order. After judicial settlement conferences, Manning filed a renewed motion for contempt against the Bank for its conduct at the settlement conference. Manning argued that the court should dismiss the foreclosure complaint with prejudice or, in the alternative, hold the Bank in contempt and impose sanctions. The court granted the motion for contempt and imposed sanctions, ordering the Bank to pay Manning's attorney fees and costs. The court then granted Manning's earlier motion for reconsideration and dismissed with prejudice the Bank's foreclosure complaint as a sanction for the Bank's conduct at the judicial settlement conference. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in both granting Manning's motion for reconsideration and imposing sanctions on the Bank, including a dismissal with prejudice of the foreclosure complaint. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Manning" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against her ex-husband’s estate alleging that his life insurance proceeds rightly belong to her. The court held that the district court correctly determined that the Interspousal Agreement and the Final Judgment could not be orally amended. The court explained that, by its plain terms, the Interspousal Agreement requires any modification to be in writing and executed with the same formalities as the agreement. In this case, plaintiff had no proof any oral amendment to the Final Judgment related to the policy. Furthermore, New Jersey law automatically revokes the beneficiary designation on divorce unless the "express terms" of a court order say otherwise. Because plaintiff's affidavit cannot change the express terms of a court order and the court order does not expressly mention the policy, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Rose v. Estate of Joel S. Bernstein" on Justia Law

by
In these four appeals presenting a common issue under the Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) the Court of Appeals held that the new overcharge calculation provisions set forth in part F, section 7 of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) does not apply to these appeals and that these appeals must be resolved under the law in effect at the time the overcharges occurred. Each of these cases involved an apartment that was treated as deregulated consistent with then-prevailing Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) regulations before the Court of Appeals rejected that guidance in Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P., 13 NY3d 270 (2009). After the Court of Appeals decided Roberts, the tenants commenced overcharge claims under the RSL. At issue in these cases - sent to the Court of Appeals by leave of the Appellate Division before enactment of the HSTPA - was how to calculate the legal regulated rent in order to determine whether a recoverable overcharge occurred. The Court of Appeals held (1) the overcharge calculation and treble damages provision in part F of the HSTPA may not be applied retroactively; and (2) therefore, these claims must be resolved pursuant to the law in effect when the purported overcharges occurred. View "Regina Metropolitan Co. v. New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court sustaining demurrers to Plaintiff's claim seeking the equitable rescission of a foreclosure sale and her claim asserting that the trustee conducting the foreclosure sale breached its fiduciary duty, holding that the circuit court did not err by sustaining the demurrers. When Appellant failed to make timely payments toward a debt secured by a deed of trust, Equity Trustees, LLC, Bank of America's substitute trustee, foreclosed upon the property. After the property was sold at a foreclosure sale Appellant filed an amended complaint requesting the equitable rescission of the foreclosure sale based on Bank of America's breach of the terms of the deed of trust and asserting that Equity breached its fiduciary duty to Plaintiff. The defendants each filed demurrers to the complaint, which the circuit court granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's amended complaint failed to plead facts establishing that she incurred any harm resulting from the alleged breach of the deed of trust or that Equity breached its fiduciary duty by conducting the foreclosure sale. View "Young-Allen v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of three limited liability companies' writ of mandate to vacate the California Coastal Commission's decision certifying a local coastal program for the Santa Monica Mountains that prohibits any new vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains coastal zone. The court held that the Commission proceeded properly under Public Resources Code section 30514, and therefore was not required to make the "substantial issue" determination otherwise required by section 30512; there was no error in the Commission's construction and application of the agricultural protections embodied in sections 30241 and 30242; the Commission properly considered sections 30241 and 30242, finding that section 30241 does not apply, and appropriately protecting other lands suitable for agriculture; the April 10 hearing did not deny plaintiffs due process; and substantial evidence supported the Commission's decision to ban new vineyards. View "Mountainlands Conservancy, LLC v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the tax court concluding that the market value of a distribution-warehouse property in Rogers, Minnesota was $15,638,000 as of January 2, 2014 and $15,597,000 as of January 2, 2015, holding that the tax court did not err in any of the ways asserted by Medline Industries. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the tax court (1) did not err by crediting some of the county appraiser's opinions despite rejecting his opinion about the highest and best use of the property as a multi-tenant facility; (2) did not clearly err in the sales-comparison approach by relying on four comparable sales other than the May 2017 of a former Walgreens distribution center; (3) did not err in its income approach analysis; and (4) did not err in relying on the cost approach. View "Medline Industries, Inc. v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law