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In this dispute between parties that both had water rights in the Beaver River the Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the judgment of the district court against Rocky Ford Irrigation Company on its claims against Kents Lake Reservoir Company seeking clarification regarding priority of rights and Kents Lake's obligations as to river administration but reversed the district court's decision not to clarify Kents Lake's measurement obligations, holding that Rocky Ford was entitled to clarification in this regard. As changed occurred both in water rights and in irrigation techniques and the administration of the Beaver River grew more complex, Rocky Ford brought this action against Kents Lake. The district court declined all of Rocky Ford's claims and awarded attorney fees to Kents Lake and Beaver City sua sponte. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly denied Rocky Ford's motion for summary judgment; (2) the trial court did not err when it refused to enter a declaratory judgment that Kents Lake cannot store the water it saves through increased efficiency; (3) the district court erred in refusing to enter a declaratory judgment regarding Kents Lake's measurement obligations; and (4) Kents Lake and Beaver City were not entitled to attorney fees. View "Rocky Ford Irrigation Co. v. Kents Lake Reservoir Co." on Justia Law

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In case no. 1170709, Jere Austill III appealed a circuit court judgment permitting Tyler Montana Jul Prescott to redeem certain real property under sections 40-10-82 and 40-10-83, Ala. Code 1975. Specifically, Austill argued that, through adverse possession, he had "cut off" Prescott's right to redeem the property. Because the Alabama Supreme Court concluded that, by virtue of an adverse judgment in an earlier quiet-title action, Austill was precluded by the doctrine of res judicata from claiming an interest in the property through the extinguishment of Prescott's right of redemption. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed that portion of the trial court's judgment that challenged in Austill's appeal. In case no. 1170730, Prescott cross-appealed the trial court's denial of his motion for an award of attorney fees under the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act ("the ALAA"). In support thereof, Prescott argued Austill asserted his argument that he cut off Prescott's right of judicial redemption without substantial justification. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not exceed its discretion in denying Prescott's motion, and affirmed that portion of the trial court's judgment. View "Austill III v. Prescott" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering judgment according to a jury verdict determining that defendant-intervenor Lehr, Inc. was entitled to possession of two disputed motor vehicles and was entitled to damages in the amount of $95,000 as a result of Foundation One Bank's sale of one of the vehicles, holding that there was no plain error in the proceedings below. Foundation One sought replevin of two motor vehicles pledged by Jason Svoboda as collateral to secure payment of a loan. Lehr intervened, seeking possession of the vehicles. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Lehr and awarded Lehr $95,000. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Foundation One was not prejudiced by the instructions given to the jury; and (2) the district court did not err when it denied Foundation One's motions for judgment on the pleadings and for a directed verdict. View "Foundation One Bank v. Svoboda" on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Court held that Defendants John Sanzo and Maria Sanzo were not entitled to the homestead exemption, which is available when a creditor forecloses on a judgment lien but not on a consensual lien. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-352(b). Plaintiff, Rockstone Capital, LLC held judgment liens against Defendants. The parties agreed to a consensual lien in the form of a mortgage to secure the debt. Defendants defaulted on the mortgage payments, and Plaintiff sought to foreclose on the mortgage. Defendants invoked the homestead exemption. The trial court decided that the exemption should apply and rendered judgment for Plaintiff on the judgment liens, subject to the homestead exemption. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that the homestead exemption did not apply to a consensual lien such as a mortgage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court properly found that the appeal was taken from a final judgment and the mortgage was a consensual lien. View "Rockstone Capital, LLC v. Sanzo" on Justia Law

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Ronald Smithberg appealed a judgment ordering Smithberg Brothers, Inc., to purchase his interest in the family farm corporation for $169,985 and dismissing on summary judgment his other claims against the corporation and its remaining shareholders, Gary and James Smithberg. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Ronald Smithberg raised genuine issues of material fact regarding his claims against the corporation and Gary and James Smithberg, and the district court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing those claims. The court’s valuation of Ronald Smithberg’s interest in the corporation was reversed because his interest could not be valuated until his derivative claims on behalf of the corporation were resolved. View "Smithberg v. Smithberg, et al." on Justia Law

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The State of North Dakota, ex rel. the North Dakota Board of University and School Lands, and the Office of the Commissioner of University and School Lands, a/k/a the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands (“the State”) appealed a district court’s interpretation of royalty provisions of natural gas leases with Newfield Exploration Company, Newfield Production Company, and Newfield RMI LLC (“Newfield”). The State argued the district court’s interpretation of the leases improperly allowed the reduction of the royalty payments to account for expenses incurred to make the natural gas marketable. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the gross proceeds from which the royalty payments under the leases were calculated could not be reduced by an amount that either directly or indirectly accounted for post-production costs incurred to make the gas marketable. Therefore, the Court reversed the district court’s judgment. View "Newfield Exploration Company, et al. v. North Dakota, et al." on Justia Law

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Clinton Mullin and Valrena Nelson appealed a judgment and order denying a new trial. The judgment was entered after a jury found Mullin liable for a breach of trust and awarded Richard Twete damages for the loss of use and value of real property, and after the court in equitable proceedings imposed a constructive trust requiring the return of the real property, awarded Twete monetary damages jointly and severally against Mullin and Nelson as restitution, and granted attorney fees. In 2009, Twete owned a farm near Grenora, North Dakota, and Mullin owned a farm about 100 miles away in Montana. Twete and Mullin met in the fall of 2009 when Twete hired Mullin to harvest. In September 2012, Twete executed quitclaim deeds conveying his farmland and minerals in Divide County and Williams County to Mullin. Twete also sold his farm machinery and equipment to Mullin. The transaction was documented in written contracts and deeds. In June 2013, defendants Bill Seerup and Hurley Oil Properties, Inc., purchased the minerals from Mullin for $600,000. In July 2013, Mullin executed deeds granting Nelson and Mullin a joint tenancy in the farmland, excluding minerals. In August 2014, Mullin and Nelson entered into a mortgage with defendant Farm Credit Services. In 2015, Twete commenced this action against Mullin and others, seeking among other things a monetary award and the rescission of certain real property transfers, and alleging claims for quiet title, undue influence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, malicious prosecution, constructive trust, breach of contract, and conversion or trespass to chattels. Twete also sought equitable relief from defendants Farm Credit, Seerup, and Hurley Oil. Mullin counterclaimed against Twete for quiet title, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and conversion and trespass to chattel. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed all but the award of attorney fees: the Court could not discern under what legal authority the district court relied on to award fees. The matter was thus reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Twete v. Mullin, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff The Skinny Pancake-Hanover, LLC, appealed superior court decisions to grant partial summary judgment to defendants, Crotix and James and Susan Rubens, on plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, and that dismissed plaintiff’s claim against defendants for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Plaintiff entered into a lease with defendants for a single unit in the Hanover Park Condominium building. The lease gave plaintiff the option to purchase its rental unit along with certain other units in the building. Less than a year later, plaintiff notified defendants it wanted to exercise its purchase option. Defendants “declined” plaintiff’s request, stating that plaintiff’s attempted exercise of the option was untimely under the terms of the agreement. Plaintiff sued; defendants answered, asserting the notice plaintiff sent regarding purchase of the rental unit was insufficient to trigger the option under the original lease agreement. Finding the superior court did not err in granting judgment in favor of defendants, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "The Skinny Pancake-Hanover, LLC v. Crotix" on Justia Law

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The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Columbia Gas on Landowners' state-law trespass and unjust enrichment claims involving underground storage of natural gas. In regard to the trespass claims, the court held that Landowners failed to show that Columbia Gas interfered with the possessory interest in their subsurface where each Landowner had admitted that they have not used and do not intend to use their subsurface. In regard to the unjust enrichment claims, the court held that Columbia Gas need not file a cross-appeal in order to preserve its argument to affirm the damages judgment on the ground that Columbia Gas has no underlying liability. Furthermore, Landowners' unjust enrichment claims failed because Landowners could not show, as they must, that they conferred a benefit upon the defendant. View "Baatz v. Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Landowners' petition for writ of review asserting that the Ravalli County Board of County Commissioners exceeded its jurisdiction to grant or deny Landowners' petition for abandonment, holding that Landowners failed to meet the statutory requirement for issuance of a writ of review. Landowners erected a gate that obstructed a portion of a county road. Landowners petitioned the Board to abandon that portion of the road, but the Board denied the petition for abandonment and ordered the gate removed. Landowners later filed their petition for a writ of review. The district court denied Landowners' petition for a writ of review and accompanying application for preliminary injunction on the basis that the Board did not exceed its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Landowners failed to show that the Board exceeded its jurisdiction. View "Bugli v. Ravalli County" on Justia Law