Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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In this real property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court for Defendants following the court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial justice did not err in ruling that the disputed land was a paper street and in finding that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.Plaintiff filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that certain property was a public road that ran to the boundary of Plaintiff's property and that Plaintiff had the right to use the full length of the property and the right of access to his property. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. View "Davis v. Town of Exeter" on Justia Law

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O’Brien submitted an application in March 2011 for approval of a 315-unit residential apartment development. O’Brien’s application was deemed complete in July 2011, including 14 residential buildings, a clubhouse, a leasing office, parking in carports and garages, and internal roadways on a 22.27-acre site. The site was then designated Administrative/Professional/Multi-Family Residential on the city’s general-plan land-use map and was zoned Administrative/Professional. The city certified an environmental impact report (EIR) in 2013. Before the project was approved, O’Brien and the city suspended processing the original project while O’Brien pursued an alternative, smaller proposal.In 2018, when it proved impossible to proceed with the alternative project, O’Brien and the city revived the original proposal, with some modifications. The city finally approved the resumed project in 2020, after the preparation of an addendum to the original EIR. A citizen’s group claimed that the project conflicted with the city’s general plan as it existed when the project was revived in 2018, that the EIR was inadequate, and that a supplemental EIR is required. The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of the mandamus petition. Despite the lengthy delay between certification of the EIR and project approval, the city properly applied the general plan standards in effect when the application was deemed complete. The court rejected challenges to the EIR. View "Save Lafayette v. City of Lafayette" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff TransFarmations, Inc. appealed a superior court decision to uphold the Town of Amherst Planning Board's (Town) decisions to deny TransFarmations' two successive applications for a conditional use permit (CUP). In May 2019, TransFarmations requested a “Conceptual Meeting” with the Town’s planning board (Board) concerning its proposed development of an approximately 130-acre property known as the Jacobson Farm. It stated that the “development will be designed to meet many of the desired attributes the Town . . . has articulated in [its] Master Plan and [Integrated] Innovative . . . Housing Ordinance (IIHO),” including workforce housing and over-55 housing. TransFarmations subsequently submitted a CUP application under the IIHO for a planned residential development containing 64 residential units. In its challenge to the decisions, TransFarmations argued both that the decisions failed to adequately state the ground for denial and that the Board acted unreasonably because the second CUP application was materially different from the first. The trial court concluded that the Board adequately provided the reason for its first decision on the record because “the Board members discussed, in detail, their reasons for concluding that no material differences [between the first and second applications] existed.” The court also concluded that “the Board acted reasonably and lawfully in reaching [that] decision.” Accordingly, the court affirmed both of the Board’s decisions. TransFarmations contended the trial court erred in affirming the Board’s decision not to accept the second application because TransFarmations submitted that application “at the Board’s invitation and with the information the Board requested.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded TransFarmations’ second application supplying the requested information was “materially different from its predecessor, thus satisfying Fisher.” Because the trial court’s decision concluding otherwise misapplied Fisher v. Dover, it was legally erroneous. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s order as to the second CUP decision and remanded. View "TransFarmations, Inc. v. Town of Amherst" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court affirming the decision of the Board of Supervisors of the Gallatin Conservation District (GCD) that a waterway within property owned by Appellant constituted a "natural, perennial-flowing stream" under the Natural Steambed and Land Preservation Act of 1975 (the 310 Law), holding that the district court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that GCD properly exercised its discretion in evaluating the entirety of the record, including historical evidence, when deciding whether the waterway on Appellant's property fell within the conservation district's jurisdiction; and (2) did not erroneously uphold GCD's determination that substantial evidence supported its conclusion that the waterway constituted a natural perennial-flowing stream as set forth in the 310 Law. View "Pfeil Acquisitions LLC v. Gallatin County Conservation District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the business and consumer docket entered in favor of Plaintiffs vacating the Bureau of Parks and Lands' lease of public reserved land to NECEC Transmission LLC and Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) for construction of a high-capacity transmission line, holding that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease.CMP appealed and Plaintiffs cross-appealed the trial court's decision not to address the substantive question of whether the Bureau had the constitutional authority to lease to the public reserved land. Plaintiffs later moved to dismiss the appeals on the ground that a citizen's initiative rendered the appeals moot. The Supreme Judicial Court denied the motion to dismiss and vacated the judgment below, holding (1) retroactive application of section 1 of the Initiative did not violate the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, and therefore, the lease was not voided by the initiative; and (2) the record established that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease. View "Black v. Bureau of Parks & Lands" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment against Jonah Ke'eaumoku Kapu and in favor of Makila Land Co., LLC on Makila's paper title claim to real property in Maui and denying Kapu's claim for ownership of the property by adverse possession, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion.At issue before the Supreme Court was whether a letter from Kapu should have been liberally construed by the circuit court as a motion for reconsideration of the order granting summary judgment to Makila Land Co., LLC, an order that resulted in Kapu losing his home. The Supreme Court agreed with Kapu on appeal, holding (1) Kapu's pro se letter should have been liberally construed as a motion for reconsideration pursuant to the Supreme Court's policy to afford pro se litigants equal access to justice; and (2) the circuit court erred in failing to provide Kapu an opportunity to be heard on the merits of that motion. View "Makila Land Co., LLC v. Kapu" on Justia Law

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The Condominium Property Act requires condominium unit sellers to obtain specific disclosure documents from the Association or its agent before a sale and to provide them to potential buyers on request. After entering into a standard sales contract with a potential buyer who requested those disclosures, Channon obtained them from Westward, a management agent hired by the Association’s board of managers. Westward charged $245 for the documents. Channon filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Westward violated section 22.1 of the Act by charging unreasonable fees for the statutorily required documents and violated the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.In response to a certified question, the Illinois Supreme Court held that section 22.1 does not provide an implied cause of action in favor of a condominium unit seller against a property manager, as an agent of an association or board of directors, based on allegations that the manager charged excessive fees for the production of information required to be disclosed under that statute. The standard for a court to imply a private right of action in a statute is quite high. That extraordinary step should be taken only when it is clearly needed to advance the statutory purpose and when the statute would “be ineffective, as a practical matter, unless a private right of action were implied.” View "Channon v. Westward Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sheckler rented residential property from McIntosh. The lease provided McIntosh “shall maintain fire and other hazard insurance on the premises only” and that Sheckler was responsible for insurance on possessions contained in the premises. The lease's indemnification clause exculpated McIntosh from any damages or injury occurring on the premises. McIntosh obtained insurance from Auto-Owners; first-party dwelling coverage provided coverage for fire damage and third-party landlord liability coverage provided coverage for claims brought by third parties that the insured “becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of or arising out of bodily injury or property damage.” The third-party coverage provided a duty to defend any claim covered by the policy, excluding “property damage to property occupied or used by an insured or rented to or in the care of, any insured.” The policy listed McIntosh as the only named insured. McIntosh claims no money received from Sheckler was used to pay the annual premium.Sheckler notified McIntosh that the gas stove was not working. McIntosh placed a service call. The technician’s efforts resulted in a fire that caused substantial property damage. Auto-Owners paid McIntosh for damages incurred due to the fire and lost rental income and filed a subrogation action against the technician (Workman), who filed a third-party contribution complaint against Sheckler. Sheckler tendered the defense to Auto-Owners, which rejected the claim. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the rejection of Sheckler’s claim. An insurer’s duty to defend or indemnify does not extend to the tenant of an insured property against a third-party negligence contribution claim when the tenant is not identified as a person insured under the policy. View "Sheckler v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The federal district court for the District of North Dakota certified five questions regarding N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) and North Dakota Industrial Commission pooling orders. The litigation before the federal court involved allocation of mineral royalties in the case of overlapping oil and gas spacing units. Allen and Arlen Dominek owned oil and gas interests in Williams County, North Dakota. In 2011, the North Dakota Industrial Commission pooled the interests in Section 13 on the Dominek property with the interests in Section 24 in a 1280-acre spacing unit (the “Underlying Spacing Unit”). In 2016, the Commission pooled the interests in Sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 in a 2560-acre spacing unit (the “Overlapping Spacing Unit). The "Weisz" well terminated in the southeast corner of Section 14. The Defendants (together “Equinor”) operated the Weisz well. The Domineks sued Equinor in federal district court to recover revenue proceeds from the Weisz well. The parties agreed production from the Weisz well should have been allocated equally to the four sections comprising the Overlapping Spacing Unit. Their disagreement was whether the 25% attributable to Section 13 should have been shared with the interest owners in Section 24 given those sections were pooled in the Underlying Spacing Unit. In response to the motions, the federal district court certified five questions to the North Dakota Court. Responding "no" to the first: whether language from N.D.C.C. § 38-08-08(1) required production from Section 13 to be allocated to Section 24, the Supreme Court declined to answer the remaining questions because it found they were based on an assumption that the Commission had jurisdiction to direct how production was allocated among mineral interest owners. "Questions concerning correlative rights and the Commission’s jurisdiction entail factual considerations. ... An undeveloped record exposes this Court 'to the danger of improvidently deciding issues and of not sufficiently contemplating ramifications of the opinion.'” View "Dominek, et al. v. Equinor Energy, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a third-party entity in a post-judgment collection action has party standing to appeal from an order of the district court resolving its petition to return property levied pursuant to a writ of execution.Jennifer Goldstein obtained a judgment against NuVeda, LLC for over $2.5 million. In post-judgment collection proceedings, Goldstein had a writ of execution serviced on Clark NMSD, LLC, and cash was seized. Clark NMSD filed a third-party claimant petition, which NuVeda joined, seeking return of the seized cash and requesting that Goldstein be prohibited from further collection activity. The district court denied the petition. Goldstein then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that because Clark NMSD was not a party to the proceedings below it had not standing to appeal. The Supreme Court denied the motion, holding that Clark NMSD had party standing to challenge the district court's order, and the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over this appeal. View "Clark NMSD, LLC v. Goldstein" on Justia Law