Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Tran applied to the Department of Regional Planning for renewal of the conditional use permit (CUP) for his unincorporated Los Angeles County liquor store. Considering the store’s location and site plan, information from the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, a crime report, and letters from the public, the Department recommended approval of the CUP subject to conditions. Tran objected to conditions limiting the hours of alcohol sales to 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and that distilled spirits not be sold in small containers. The Commission approved the CUP with the recommended small bottle prohibition but permitting alcohol sales from 6:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. The County Board of Supervisors voted to review the approval. At the close of an August 1, 2017, hearing the Board voted to indicate its "intent to approve” the CUP, restricting alcohol sales to 10:00 a.m-10:00 p.m. and forbidding small bottle sales. About eight months later, the Board adopted the findings and conditions of approval prepared by county counsel and approved the CUP with the modified conditions.Tran unsuccessfully sought a judicial order to set aside the decision as untimely under the County Code, which provides that review decisions “shall be rendered within 30 days of the close of the hearing” The court of appeal vacated the Board’s decision. The 30-day time limit was mandatory, not directory. The Board failed to render its decision within 30 days. View "Tran v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Ramsey Barton sued the City of Valdez after she was severely injured by falling from a tire swing overhanging a cliff in an undeveloped area of a city park. The swing was not built by the City, and Barton alleged the City was negligent in failing to remove it. The superior court assumed on summary judgment that the City had imputed knowledge of the swing, but because there was no evidence the City had a policy to inspect or remove hazards from undeveloped areas of the park, the City was entitled to discretionary function immunity. The court therefore dismissed Barton’s lawsuit against the City. The Alaska Supreme Court reversed, finding that there were "no conceivable policy reasons for declining to remove the unauthorized swing — a human-made hazard that was known, easily accessible, and simple to remove." The Supreme Court found that the failure to remove it was not protected by discretionary function immunity. View "Barton v. City of Valdez" on Justia Law

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Howard Moore and Charles Lloyd were judgment creditors in the aggregate amount of $185,000. In 2012, Moore and Lloyd obtained a writ of execution and the property, in which Mikul had an ownership interest, was sold at an execution sale, at which Moore and Lloyd were the highest bidders at $130,000. There was a question regarding whether Moore and Lloyd were required to pay any cash to obtain a sheriff's execution deed concerning the property, given that the amount of their judgment exceeded the amount of the execution sale price. Moore and Lloyd petitioned for a writ of mandamus to resolve the issue, and Mikul intervened. Moore and Lloyd ultimately prevailed, and the circuit court directed the sheriff to sign and deliver a deed to the property to Moore and Lloyd. Mikul appealed to the Court of Civil Appeals, which transferred the appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment, without an opinion. Days later, Moore and Lloyd initiated an ejectment action against Mikul. Ultimately, the circuit court entered an order in October 2018 concluding that Moore and Lloyd were entitled to possession of the property and that Mikul was not liable to Moore and Lloyd for mesne profits or rents. However, in the same order, the circuit court immediately stayed execution of the order after considering the parties' arguments regarding whether Mikul should be required to post a supersedeas bond to stay execution of the judgment, insofar as it awarded Moore and Lloyd possession of the property, should Mikul choose to appeal. Moore and Lloyd again petitioned for mandamus relief, challenging the October 2018 order. The circuit court in April 2019 concluded it lacked jurisdiction to modify the October 2018 order because Moore and Lloyd had not filed a timely postjudgment motion with respect to the October 2018 order. Mikul moved to quash a writ of execution, referencing the October 2018 court order staying such proceedings. Moore and Lloyd petitioned the Court of Civil Appeals, which again transferred the case to the Supreme Court, who in turn again denied review. Moore and Lloyd filed the ejectment action at issue here. Mikul moved for summary judgment, asserting that the relief sought by Moore and Lloyd should be denied based on the defenses of equitable estoppel, laches and res judicata. A majority of the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's last order, finding Moore and Lloyd failed to demonstrate the circuit court's judgment should have been reversed. View "Moore v. Mikul" on Justia Law

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In 2011, PNC filed a foreclosure complaint against Kusmierz. PNC retained Metro to serve the summons. Magida, a Metro employee, attempted to serve Kusmierz at the subject Lombard address but the property was a vacant lot. Magida served Kusmierz in Palatine. Days later, PNC obtained the appointment of Metro as a special process server. PNC then filed affidavits of service. Kusmierz failed to appear. On February 28, 2012, the court entered an order of default and a judgment of foreclosure and sale. PNC complied with all statutory notice requirements, and the property was sold at a judicial sale back to PNC. The court confirmed the judicial sale. Notices of the proceedings were mailed to the Palatine address. In 2013, third parties purchased the property from PNC for $24,000 and constructed a home on the property with mortgage loans totaling $292,650.In 2018, more than seven years after being served with the foreclosure complaint and summons, Kusmierz sought relief from void judgments under 735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f), alleging improper service because the process server was not appointed by the court at the time of service, in violation of section 2-202(a). The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, applying both laches and the bona fide purchaser protections in section 2-1401(e) of the Code of Civil Procedure. View "PNC Bank, National Association v. Kusmierz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part the judgment entered in the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD) awarding attorney fees and expenses to Forney & Weygandt, Inc. (F&W) but vacated a portion of the judgment awarding F&W attorney fees and expenses related to subcontractor claims, holding that remand was required.Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC, et al. (collectively, GBT), a group of limited purpose entities and a commercial real estate developer, appealed the attorney fees and expenses award to F&W, a commercial general contractor, pursuant to Maine's prompt payment statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 10, 1111-1120. Specifically, GBT contended that the BCD erred in awarding attorney fees and expenses that were not incurred in direct pursuit of F&W's prompt payment claims, including those related to F&W's contract claims, GBT's counterclaims and affirmative defenses, and subcontractor claims against F&W. The Supreme Judicial Court largely affirmed the judgment but vacated the award of attorney fees and expenses related to the subcontractor claims, holding that the court abused its discretion when it did not articulate a basis for an award of fees that would be proper under the prompt payment statute and this Court's interpretative case law. View "Fortney & Weygandt, Inc. v. Lewiston DMEP IX, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Landowners own parcels of land adjacent to a 2.45-mile strip of a Union Pacific railroad line in McLennan County, Texas. Union Pacific’s predecessor in interest, Texas Central originally acquired the Line in 1902 through multiple deeds executed by the Landowners’ predecessors in interest. The Landowners sued, seeking compensation based on a theory that their predecessors in interest had conferred only easements to Texas Central, and that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) enforcement of the National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. 1241, by “railbanking” amounted to a “taking” of their property. Railbanking involves the transition of unused railroad corridors into recreational hiking and biking trails, generally by a transfer of an interest in the use of a rail corridor to a third-party entity. The Claims Court interpreted the deeds as having conveyed fee simple estates, not easements.The Federal Circuit affirmed. No takings from the Landowners occurred when the government later authorized conversion of the railroad line to a recreation trail; the granting clauses of the subject deeds unambiguously conveyed fee simple interests in the land and not easements despite contradictory language elsewhere in the deeds. View "Anderson v. United States" on Justia Law

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After a sinkhole formed on the leasehold of Jad Khalaf, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (District) filed a complaint against Khalaf to recoup the costs of repairing the sinkhole and for other relief. Khalaf moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which the chancery court granted. The District appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Pearl River Valley Water Supply District v. Khalaf" on Justia Law

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Summary judgment was granted to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (Ocwen), as were motions to dismiss filed by Jennifer Shackelford (Shackelford), Liberty Home Equity Solutions, Inc. (Liberty), and Professional Services of Potts Camp, Inc. (Potts Camp). As to the summary-judgment motion, the chancery court granted it on grounds that the deed under which Julia Kelly claimed her property interest was a void conveyance under long-standing homestead law, codified in Mississippi Code Section 89-1-29 (Rev. 2011). As to the motions to dismiss, the chancery court granted those motions after determining Kelly’s claims were time-barred by the relevant statutes of limitation. In 1993, Harvey Lamb and his wife Idele, conveyed the Subject Property to their son, Harvey Lamb (Lamb), via warranty deed. Lamb lived on this property with his wife, Sydney. Years later, in March 2010, Lamb executed a “Warranty Deed With Restriction” that conveyed the Subject Property to him and his wife, “for their lifetime, with the remainder at their death or revocation of life estate, to their daughter, Julia L. Kelly[.]” Sydney never joined in the execution of the 2010 Warranty Deed. At some point after the 2010 Warranty Deed, Lamb and Sydney divorced. In connection with their divorce, Sydney executed a “Quit Claim Deed & Relinquishment of Life Estate” in May 2012. In 2015, Lamb received a reverse mortgage from Liberty; a deed of trust relating to this mortgage encumbered the property. Lamb died in 2017. Kelly was Lamb’s sole heir, and she was appointed administratrix of his estate. In January 2018, Liberty assigned the 2015 Deed of Trust to Ocwen. Ocwen alleged that Lamb was in default under the 2015 Deed of Trust and that the loan had been accelerated. Ocwen sought a declaration that the conveyance to Kelly under the 2010 Warranty deed was void because Sydney did nto join in it, and that the conveyance should have been set aside as a cloud on title. Kelly counterclaimed against Ocwen and cross-claimed against Shackleford, Liberty and Potts Camp. Finding no reversible in the chancery court's order granting summary judgment and dismissing the other claims, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kelly v. Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Two cases were consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review. In the first appeal, Singing River MOB, LLC (MOB), argued that the leases between itself and Singing River Health System (SRHS) and the lease between Jackson County, Mississippi (County), and SRHS were valid and that the chancery court erred by finding the leases invalid under Mississippi’s “minutes rule.” In the second appeal, Jackson County and SRHS contended the chancery court erred by fashioning its own equitable relief as a result of the first ruling. MOB also raised its own objection as to the manner in which the equitable relief was fashioned. After careful review, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the partial summary-judgment order as to the first appeal (No. 2019-IA-01630-SCT); however, the Court reversed and remanded that order as to the second appeal (No. 2019-IA-01653-SCT). View "Singing River MOB, LLC v. Jackson County" on Justia Law

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William Greenwood was in the business of salvaging valuable materials from old buildings. Greenwood was insured by Mesa Underwriters Specialty Insurance Company through a policy sold by Dixie Specialty Insurance. Greenwood was later sued by adjoining building owners who complained he had damaged their property, and Mesa denied coverage based, in part, on a policy exclusion for demolition work. Greenwood later brought suit against his insurers alleging breach of contract and bad-faith denial of coverage. Greenwood averred that his business was actually “deconstruction” rather than demolition, but the trial court granted summary judgment to the insurers. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Estate of Greenwood v. Montpelier US Insurance Company, et al." on Justia Law