Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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HGST bought manufacturing fixtures, machinery, and equipment for $2.4 billion in 2002. The Santa Clara County Assessor annually imposed escape assessments (corrections to assessed value on the local property tax roll) on the property, 2003-2008. HGST challenged the assessor’s findings. The Assessment Appeals Board (AAB) issued findings in 2012 largely adopting the assessor’s findings. HGST filed an unsuccessful claim for a refund of $15 million with the Board of Supervisors. In 2014, HGST filed suit, seeking a refund. The court ruled in favor of the county. The court of appeal affirmed in part, rejecting arguments that the trial court: erred by reviewing the entire case in blanket fashion under a substantial evidence standard rather than examining each individual claim to determine which standard of review should apply; erroneously failed to review certain legal challenges to the valuation methodology applied by the AAB; and erred by upholding the AAB’s decision not to apply the “purchase price presumption” set forth in Revenue and Taxation Code section 110. The court reversed in part. The trial court erred by upholding the imposition of interest on the escape assessments under section 531.4; it made no findings on what portion of the property was reported accurately or to what extent the escape assessments were caused by HGST’s purported failure to report the property accurately. View "HGST, Inc. v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the order of the district court finding that the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) incorrectly approved the taking of two areas of land into trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe, holding that the plain meaning of the text of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) precluded the BIA's interpretation of 25 U.S.C. 5129. The Tribe planned to use land taken into trust in Mashpee, Massachusetts primarily for housing and planning to use land in Taunton, Massachusetts for economic activities. In approving the taking of the two areas of land into trust for the Tribe the BIA construed 25 U.S.C. 5129 to permit it to accept lands for the Tribe. The district court remanded the matter to the BIA, finding that the BIA incorrectly read the statute as giving it authority to take land into trust for the Tribe. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the IRA unambiguously foreclosed the BIA's interpretation of 25 U.S.C. 5129; and (2) therefore, the BIA lacked authority to take land into trust for the benefit of the Tribe. View "Littlefield v. Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether a purchaser of real property out of foreclosure was automatically assigned and thereby entitled to the developer’s exemption from assessments on the lots previously owned by the developer. Diamondhead Country Club and Property Owner’s Association (DPOA) contends that the foreclosing purchaser, Peoples Bank, is not automatically granted an assignment of the developer’s personal rights (i.e., the exemption from Property Owner Association (POA) Assessments) in addition to property rights and that the developing company did not expressly assign this exemption to the lender/foreclosing purchaser; therefore, the lender/foreclosing purchaser does not enjoy the exemption. The Supreme Court concluded the covenants provided that the developer’s exemption would be eliminated by conveyance of the property to a third party. Therefore, the exemption was a personal right requiring assignment to Peoples. A 2008 deed of trust conveyed both the real property rights and personal rights of the developer, but the 2012 deed of trust was void of any language granting the developer's right of exemption to Peoples. Therefore, the Court determined Peoples was entitled to the exemption from paying assessments in connection with the Glen Eagle lots, but it was liable for assessments levied on the Diamondhead lots. As to the Glen Eagle lots, the Supreme Court affirmed; the Court reversed and remanded as to the Diamondhead lots. View "Diamondhead Country Club and Property Owners Association, Inc. v. The Peoples Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that a deed of trust beneficiary's agent was excused from making a formal tender, such that under Bank of America, N.A. v. SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC, 427 P.3d 113 (Nev. 2018), the ensuing foreclosure sale did not extinguish the first deed of trust, holding that substantial evidence supported this finding. In Bank of America, the Supreme Court held that a deed of trust beneficiary can preserve its deed of trust by tendering the superpriority portion of a homeowners' association's (HOA) lien before the foreclosure sale is held. At issue was whether an offer to pay the superpriority amount when that amount is determined constitutes a tender sufficient to preserve the first deed of trust. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative but held that a formal tender is excused when evidence shows that the party entitled to payment had a known policy of rejecting such payments. Specifically, the Court held (1) the beneficiary was excused from making a formal tender because, pursuant to a known policy, its tender would have been rejected; and (2) therefore, the beneficiary preserved its interest in the property such that the property was purchased subject to the beneficiary's first deed of trust. View "7510 Perla Del Mar Ave Trust v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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Janice and Robert Rieger appealed, and Lyle Ackerman and Kathleen Rub cross-appealed, a district court order directing the sale of real property owned by the Riegers, Ackerman, and Rub. Janice Rieger, Ackerman, and Rub owned a 473-acre parcel of agricultural property in Grant County, North Dakota. In May 2017, Janice Rieger sued Ackerman and Rub for partition of the property. Rieger proposed a partition of the property into thirds. Under the proposal, Rieger would receive the southern third of the property and Ackerman and Rub would split the remaining two-thirds of the property. Ackerman and Rub opposed Rieger’s proposal and requested a sale of the property. After a February 2019 trial, the district court ordered that the Riegers could have their proposed third of the property if the remainder could be “sold for 2/3 of the $917,000 amount indicated in a 2016 appraisal, or such other amount as may be agreed upon by the parties” within six months. If two-thirds of the property could not be sold for a satisfactory amount within six months, the court ordered the entire property be sold. The Riegers argued on appeal the district court erred in ordering a sale of the whole property if two-thirds of the property could not be sold within six months. The Riegers argued the court should have ordered a partition of the property. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court did not err with respect to its order regarding the property; however, the Court determined the Riegers’ motion for attorney’s fees was premature because they brought it within the six-month period to sell two-thirds of the property. The Court found that the district court did not deny the Riegers’ motion under N.D.C.C. 32-16-45. The Supreme Court remanded for the district court to decide the Riegers’ motion under N.D.C.C. 32-16-45. View "Rieger v. Ackerman, et al." on Justia Law

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In this case concerning a "race to permit" dispute between the parties in this case, both of whom held mineral interests in certain drilling and spacing units and both of whom wanted to be the "operator" of those units, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the district court and not the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was the proper forum to resolve this case. Defendant won the race to permit and obtained operator status over the lands at issue. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendant violated Wyo. Stat. Ann. 40-27-101, which prohibits a party from trespassing on private lands to unlawfully collect resource data. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Commission had primary jurisdiction to resolve the dispute and that Plaintiff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff sufficiently pleaded standing under section 40-27-101 and the Declaratory Judgments Act; (2) the district court abused in dismissing the complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies because the Commission did not have jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's civil trespass claim; and (3) the court abused its discretion in relying on the primary jurisdiction doctrine. View "Devon Energy Production, LP v. Grayson Mill Operating, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the Town of Perry's alleged failure to construct a proper road as promised when exercising its power of eminent domain the Supreme Court held that Wis. Stat. 82.50(1) does not impose obligations on the Town that are susceptible to a declaration of rights, nor does it create a private cause of action by which Plaintiff can recover damages under the circumstances. The Town acquired a portion of property belonging to Plaintiff. In exercising it power of eminent domain, the Town committed itself to building a replacement road over part of the acquired property. The Town later brought this action alleging that the Town failed to build the road to the standards required by either the condemnation petition or Wis. Stat. 82.50(1). The circuit court concluded that claim preclusion barred Plaintiff's claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court revered, holding (1) neither the right-to-take case nor the just compensation case barred Plaintiff's claims; and (2) section 82.50(1) does not impose road-building obligations on the Town that are susceptible to a declaration of rights, nor does it create a private cause of action by which Plaintiff can recover damages for the Town's failure to improve the road. View "DSG Evergreen Family Limited Partnership v. Town of Perry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that a prior final circuit court order had a preclusive effect on Appellant's claims regarding her ownership rights in parcels of property, holding that the circuit court did not err. Linda and David were the children of George and Dorothy, who owned properties as tenants in common. After George died, Dorothy executed deeds of gift purporting to convey the properties to Linda. The circuit court voided the purported conveyance. Dorothy then executed deeds of sale regarding the properties, purporting to vest complete fee simple ownership of the properties in Linda. A commissioner concluded that a determination that the deeds of sale from Dorothy conveyed 100 percent fee simple ownership of the properties to Linda was barred by collateral estoppel. After Dorothy died, David filed a complaint asserting that he had an interest in the properties. The circuit court concluded that Linda held a seventy-five percent interest and David a twenty-five percent interest in fee simple absolute in the properties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that claim preclusion barred Linda from relitigating her claim of a 100 percent ownership interest in the properties and in determining the ownership of the properties. View "Alexander v. Cobb" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's deceit claim and affirmed the circuit court's rulings as to Plaintiff's breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims and as to Defendants' counterclaim seeking damages under two three-year lease agreements allowing Plaintiff to rent Defendants' ranch, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendants fraudulently induced Plaintiff to enter into one of the leases. Following disputes between the parties, Defendants refused Plaintiff's lease payments for the second year. Plaintiff filed suit, and Defendants counterclaimed. The trial court found one lease valid and binding and the other lease valid but voidable. A jury awarded damages to both parties. The Supreme Court reversed in part and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in its evidentiary rulings and in its jury instructions; (2) the circuit court did not err when it found the second lease voidable instead of void; and (3) the circuit court erred when it granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim that Defendants fraudulently induced him to enter into the second lease. The Court remanded the case for a new trial on Plaintiff's deceit claim. View "Knecht v. Evridge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Roger Hall and dismissing John Payne's claims for, among other things, fraud, negligence, and negligent/intentional misrepresentation and granting Hall's counterclaim for breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing, holding that the district court did not err. After the sale of certain property to Payne and Hall, a project engineer encountered an old oil reserve pit that required mitigation. Later, Hall and Payne entered into a sale and purchase agreement whereunder Payne purchased Hall's interests in a partnership. Payne refused to pay Hall one-third of the purchase price on the basis that the agreement was voidable. Payne brought this lawsuit alleging that Hall failed to disclose the existence of the reserve pit prior to the sale of the property. Hall counterclaimed, alleging that Payne failed to make the final payment under the partnership purchase agreement. The district court granted summary judgment for Hall. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by concluding that Payne's claims were time barred and by concluding that Payne should not be excused from the partnership purchase agreement. View "Payne v. Hall" on Justia Law