Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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After a trial before a three-member land commission, the district court awarded compensation to Landowners after the government took an easement on their land. The district court awarded Landowners $4.4 million, apportioned attorney's fees and litigation costs, and split the cost of the commission.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of just compensation and the splitting of the commission costs. The court concluded that the district court was within its discretion to weigh the evidence and to determine that the Landowners had shown a non-speculative demand for industrial and residential development in the reasonably near future. Therefore, the court could not say that the district court clearly erred in calculating its award of just compensation. The court also concluded that the district court has broad discretion in apportioning commission costs, and upheld its decision to do so. However, the court concluded that identifying the "prevailing party" for purposes of the attorney's fee award is a legal question that the court reviewed de novo. The court found that the district court erred in making that determination, concluding that because the government's $937,800 value is closer to the district court's final award of $4.4 million, the government, not the Landowners, is the "prevailing party" in this litigation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. 269 Acres Located in Beaufort County" on Justia Law

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The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) does not require landlords to accommodate the disability of an individual who neither entered into a lease nor paid rent in exchange for the right to occupy the premises.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City, in an action brought by plaintiff against the City for wrongful eviction based on several theories of state law implied tenancy. The panel held that the FHAA applies to rentals only when the landlord or his designee has received consideration in exchange for granting the right to occupy the premises. As to occupants requesting accommodation, the panel held that the FHAA's disability discrimination provisions apply only to cases involving a "sale" or "rental" for which the landlord accepted consideration in exchange for granting the right to occupy the premises. Applying a federal standard rather than California landlord-tenant law, the panel concluded that because plaintiff never provided consideration in exchange for the right to occupy Spot 57, the FHAA was inapplicable to his claim for relief. Furthermore, the City was not obligated to provide, offer, or discuss an accommodation. View "Salisbury v. City of Santa Monica" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the correct interpretation of Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3116(2), Nevada's "superpriority lien" statute, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for Respondents, holding that the district court's construction of the statute was correct.Section 116.3116(2) gives a homeowners association's lien priority over a first deed of trust with respect to the HOA's assessments for common expenses based on the periodic budget adopted by the HOA "which would have become due in the absence of acceleration during the [nine] months immediately preceding institution of an action to enforce the lien." Respondents' predecessor tendered a check equaling nine months' worth of assessments in an attempt to satisfy the HOA's superpriority lien, but the HOA had imposed a yearly assessment so that the entire assessment became due during the nine months immediately preceding when the HOA brought this action to enforce its liens. The district court granted summary judgment for Respondents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly reasoned that the HOA's imposition of an annual assessment accelerated the assessments' due date such that Respondents were not required to tender more than nine months of assessments to satisfy the superpriority portion of the HOA's lien. View "Anthony S. Noonan IRA, LLC v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n EE" on Justia Law

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This case presented the Idaho Supreme Court with a fundamental, but previously unanswered, question: what duty is owed by a hospital to someone who is on its premises solely to visit one of its patients? Summary judgment was entered against Victor Dupuis in a premises liability case brought against a hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Dupuis was visiting his hospitalized wife in January 2017 when he slipped and fell on ice in the hospital’s parking lot. Dupuis sued the hospital, alleging inadequate snow and ice removal in the parking lot caused him to fall. Dupuis argued that the hospital had breached the duty of care it owed to him as an invitee. The district court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Dupuis was a licensee, and the hospital did not have superior knowledge of the dangerous conditions over that of Dupuis, and, therefore, the hospital did not breach any duty owed to Dupuis. Dupuis appealed, arguing the district court erred in determining that he was a mere licensee, rather than an invitee, and that even if he were a licensee, the hospital assumed and subsequently breached a duty of care to keep the property in reasonably safe condition. The Supreme Court found Dupuis was an invitee, thereby reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment, vacating the judgment entered, and remanding the case for further proceedings. View "Dupuis v. Eastern Idaho Health Services Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's complaint seeking to quiet title to certain property, holding that a deed restriction for the use of a particular church was not an unreasonable restraint on alienation.In 1875, Edna and Levi Lynn executed a deed granting one acre of land to the Woodbine Baptist Church. Woodbine used the land until 2006, when its trustees gifted it to a Virginia corporation. The corporation received a loan in 2007, and the bank's title search of the property did not disclose the 1875 deed. When the corporation defaulted on the loan, Canova Land and Investment Company acquired title to the property at a foreclosure sell but did not take possession of the property. Canova later brought suit to quiet title to the property, arguing that a reverter clause in the 1875 deed, providing that if the property was not used for purposes expressed in the deed it should revert to the grantors or their heirs, should be voided as an unreasonable restraint on alienation. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, upholding the 1875 deed as valid. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the reverter was a restraint on use and not unreasonable. View "Canova Land & Investment Co. v. Lynn" on Justia Law

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Appellant Wild Meadows MHC, LLC challenged the Superior Court’s dismissal of its petition for a writ of prohibition. The Wild Meadows manufactured home community (the “Community”) owned by Appellant, was located in Dover, Delaware. The Community was governed by the Manufactured Home Owners and Community Owners Act and its subsection commonly known as the Rent Justification Act (the “Act”). Appellee Intervenor/Respondent Wild Meadows Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) represented these homeowners. Multiple homeowners rejected Wild Meadows’ rent increase and, through the HOA, filed a petition with the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority (the “Authority”). The Authority appointed Appellee David J. Weidman, Esquire as the arbitrator under the Act. Before the scheduled arbitration, the HOA requested financial information from Wild Meadows relating to the Community’s recent revenue and costs. Wild Meadows refused to provide this information. The HOA moved to compel discovery and a motion for summary judgment with Weidman. In his initial decision, Weidman granted discovery of any financial documents that Wild Meadows intended to rely upon at arbitration, but he denied the HOA’s motion to compel the production of additional financial documents from Wild Meadows. Determining he could compel discover, Weidman ordered Wild Meadows to submit a proposed confidentiality agreement, and ordered the HOA to submit any comments on the draft. After taking both parties' comments into consideration, Weidman issued a final confidentiality agreement, rejecting many of the changes the HOA proposed. Wild Meadows refused to sign the confidentiality agreement and filed the underlying application for a writ of prohibition in the Superior Court. Wild Meadows argued to the Delaware Supreme Court that the Superior Court erroneously held that the arbitrator appointed under Delaware’s Rent Justification Act had authority to compel discovery and impose a confidentiality agreement upon parties concerning discovery material. Finding no reversible error in the Superior Court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wild Meadows MHC, LLC v. Weidman" on Justia Law

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The Antelope Valley Groundwater Cases (AVGC) proceeding litigated whether the water supply from natural and imported sources was inadequate to meet the competing annual demands of water producers, thereby creating an overdraft condition. One of the competing parties, Appellant Tapia, individually and as trustee of a trust, claimed that he owned land overlying the aquifer. Settlement discussions ultimately produced an agreement among the vast majority of parties in which they settled their competing groundwater rights claims and agreed to support the contours of a proposed plan designed to bring the Antelope Valley Adjudication Area (AVAA) basin into hydrological balance. Tapia was not among the settling parties. Accordingly, before considering whether to approve the Physical Solution for the AVAA basin, the trial court conducted a separate trial on Tapia's unsettled claims and defenses.The Court of Appeal concluded that the Physical Solution's allocation of the "native safe yield" (NSY) does not violate California's water priorities; the allocations to correlative rights holders accord with California law; the Physical Solution's allocation of the NSY does not violate California's principles promoting the reasonable and beneficial use of water; and substantial evidence supports the judgment as to Tapia, and the Physical Solution is consistent with California law governing water priorities and the constitutional reasonable and beneficial use requirement. View "Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 40 v. Tapia" on Justia Law

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The Estate of Frances Elaine Warren entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Tricore Investments, LLC involving real property near Priest Lake in Bonner County, Idaho. Before closing, the Estate sold the property to other buyers: John Stockton and Todd Brinkmeyer. Tricore filed a complaint against the Estate for breach of contract and violation of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act (“ICPA”), among other things, and sought specific performance of the purchase and sale agreement. The complaint also alleged that Stockton and Brinkmeyer tortiously interfered with the purchase and sale agreement and that the Estate, Stockton, and Brinkmeyer (collectively, “Appellants”) engaged in a civil conspiracy. The case proceeded to a bench trial where the district court found: (1) the purchase and sale agreement between the Estate and Tricore constituted a valid and enforceable contract; (2) the Estate breached the contract when it sold the property to Stockton and Brinkmeyer; (3) the Estate’s actions violated the ICPA; (4) Stockton and Brinkmeyer tortiously interfered with the contract; and (5) Appellants engaged in a civil conspiracy. The district court ordered specific performance of the contract but declined to award any additional damages. The Estate and Stockton jointly appealed; Brinkmeyer appealed separately. The Estate argued the purchase and sale agreement was not a valid, enforceable contract because it violated the statute of frauds and there was no meeting of the minds. In the alternative, the Estate argued it did not breach the contract because Tricore repudiated it, and it did not violate the ICPA. Stockton and Brinkmeyer argued they did not tortiously interfere with the purchase and sale agreement. Together, Appellants argued they did not engage in a civil conspiracy. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Tricore on the Estate’s statute of frauds defense. The Court also affirmed the district court's findings that: (1) the Estate breached the Tricore PSA; (2) the Estate violated the ICPA; and (3) Stockton and Brinkmeyer tortiously interfered with the Tricore PSA. The district court's finding that Appellants engaged in a civil conspiracy was reversed. As a result, the attorney fee award was affirmed only as it applied to the Estate from fees against Stockton and Brinkmeyer. Tricore was not entitled to monetary damages on the tortious interference claim. View "Tricore Investments LLC v. Estate of Warren" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment compelling Plaintiffs to survey a roadway easement adjudicated by a previous declaratory judgment in 2016 and denying their motion for clarification, holding that the court erred in failing to clarify the 2016 judgment and subject easement on the motion for clarification.In this long-running dispute over a private roadway, Plaintiffs challenged a district court order compelling them to survey a roadway easement adjudicated in 2016 by declaratory judgment, denying their motion for clarification of a subsequently discovered ambiguity between the metes and bounds description and accompanying map depiction of an easement in the underlying 1987 grant, and rescinding prior awards of attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erroneously failed to construe the 1987 stipulation, 2016 judgment, and resulting law of the case and thus erred in failing to clarify the 2016 judgment and subject easement on Plaintiffs' motion for clarification. View "VanBuskirk v. Gehlen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of Charlestown Zoning Board of Review denying a special-use permit and a dimensional variance, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the denial of the special-use permit.New Castle Realty Company applied to the zoning board for a special-use permit and a dimensional variance to build a house and install a septic system on a preexisting nonconforming lot. The zoning board denied both requests. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the superior court's judgment, holding (1) substantial evidence did not exist in the record to support either the zoning board's decision to deny the special-use permit or the trial justice's ruling affirming the denial of the special-use permit; and (2) the trial justice correctly concluded that certain testimony was fatal to New Castle's request for a dimensional variance. View "New Castle Realty Co. v. Dreczko" on Justia Law