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Hartung Commercial Properties, Inc. ("Hartung"), appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Buffi's Automotive Equipment and Supply Company, Inc. ("Buffi's Automotive"). Wayne Hartung bought a piece of commercial property that had an auto-body collision, repair, and paint shop ("the body shop") on the premises. Wayne also formed Har-Mar Collisions, Inc. ("Har-Mar") to operate the body shop. Hartung subsequently entered into a lease with Har-Mar pursuant to which Har-Mar leased the body shop. Wayne had a custom-built paint booth installed in the body shop and hired Buffi's Automotive to make the paint booth operational once it was installed. On January 24, 2011, the body shop was completely destroyed by a fire. On July 8, 2011, Hartung sued Har-Mar, Buffi's Automotive, and several fictitiously named defendants in the circuit court asserting claims of negligence and wantonness related to their alleged roles in causing the fire that destroyed the body shop. Buffi's Automotive alleged that, sometime after the fire destroyed the body shop, Hartung ordered what remained of the body shop and all the equipment inside it to be demolished. Buffi's Automotive argued that Hartung allowed the body shop to be demolished even though it believed at that time that Buffi's Automotive had caused the fire; that Buffi's Automotive "was named as a defendant only after the evidence was destroyed"; and that Buffi's Automotive "should have been placed on notice of the claim and allowed to inspect the premises with its own experts prior to destruction of the evidence." The Alabama Supreme Court determined the circuit court could not properly conclude that the sanction of dismissal, as opposed to some lesser sanction, was mandated in the present case. “[B]ased on the record before us at this time, we are simply not convinced that Buffi's Automotive met its burden in this case.” Accordingly, summary judgment was reversed. View "Hartung Commercial Properties, Inc. v. Buffi's Automotive Equipment and Supply Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this defamation case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the cap in Ohio Rev. Code 2315.18 that applies to tort actions seeking noneconomic loss as a result of an alleged injury or loss to a person or property also applies to defamation. Plaintiff filed this civil complaint against Defendant, alleging several claims. At trial, the only claim submitted to the jury was for defamation. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff and awarded her $800,000 in compensatory damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. Defendant appealed, arguing that the amount awarded in damages was in excess of the applicable caps on damages set forth in section 2315.18(B)(2). The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the cap on damages for noneconomic loss set forth in section 2315.18(B)(2) unambiguously caps the noneconomic damages that can be recovered as a result of defamation. View "Wayt v. DHSC, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissal this appeal from an order of the district court denying Appellant’s request for a stay of an order of sale in a judicial foreclosure action, holding that the order denying the request for a stay was not appealable. The district court determined that Appellant and his former spouse owed Mutual of Omaha Bank $533,459, ordered an execution sale, and foreclosed Appellant and his former spouse from asserting any interest in the property. Mutual subsequently applied to and received from the district court a supplemental decree ordering that sums paid by Mutual that were not included in the initial decree be added to the amount due Mutual. After Appellant unsuccessfully requested a stay of the order of sale Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding (1) because a supplemental decree like the one at issue in this case does not give rise to a right to seek a statutory stay the district court’s order denying Appellant’s request for a stay did not affect an essential legal right; and (2) therefore, the order was not final, and this Court lacked jurisdiction to decide the appeal. View "Mutual of Omaha Bank v. Watson" on Justia Law

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Larry Alber appealed a January 2018 order amending a 2013 order which found Alber in contempt for failure to abate a nuisance on his property in compliance with a October 2003 judgment. He argued the judgment was satisfied when he filed reports of compliance with the district court and thus the property no longer contained a nuisance subject to abatement. The City of Marion ("City") argued the district court properly amended the 2013 order. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in amending its order to clarify that the nuisance on the property remained subject to abatement after Alber's conveyance of the property. The Court therefore affirmed the district court's amended order. View "North Dakota ex rel. City of Marion v. Alber" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court in this case was whether NRG Wholesale Generation’s proffered expert used an acceptable method to determine the “true value” of its power plant in computing ad valorem tax. The expert used a mixture of the sales-comparison approach, the income approach, and the cost approach to determine the true value of the facility. Lori Kerr, the tax assessor for Choctaw County, and Choctaw County, Mississippi (collectively, the “County”), contended that Mississippi law mandates a trended historical cost-less-depreciation approach to calculate the true value of industrial personal property. The circuit court found in favor of the County and excluded NRG’s proffered expert testimony. NRG argued the circuit court abused its discretion. In addition, NRG also argued the circuit court erred in denying its motion to change venue because because many of the jurors knew the county officials named as defendants in this case, a fair trial in Choctaw County was impossible. The Supreme Court held the Mississippi Department of Revenue (the “DOR”) regulation controlled and that NRG’s expert applied an unacceptable method to determine true value. Therefore, the circuit court did not err in excluding NRG’s proffered expert testimony. Additionally, because NRG was afforded a fair and impartial jury, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to change venue. View "NRG Wholesale Generation LP v. Kerr" on Justia Law

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The property owner failed to timely pay his taxes or to redeem them within two years of the tax sale of his property. The owner objected to the sale, asserting that he was deprived of his property without the statutorily required prior notice. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the chancery clerk’s first notice was returned undelivered. At that point, by statute, the clerk was required to diligently search for a different address for the property owner. But despite having another address readily available in the county’s land records, no notices were ever mailed to that address before the redemption period ended. Thus, the clerk’s search and inquiry did not strictly comply with the applicable law. The Supreme Court reversed the chancellor’s judgment affirming the tax sale and confirming title in the tax sale purchaser, and set aside the tax sale as void. View "Campbell Properties, Inc. v. Cook" on Justia Law

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If a creditor fails to make required disclosures under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), borrowers are allowed three years from the loan's consummation date to rescind certain loans. However, TILA does not include a statute of limitations outlining when an action to enforce such a rescission must be brought. The Ninth Circuit applied the analogous state law statute of limitations -- Washington's six year contract statute of limitations -- to TILA rescission enforcement claims. The panel held that plaintiff's TILA claim was timely under Washington's statute of limitations. In this case, the cause of action arose in May 2013 when the Bank failed to take any action to wind up the loan within 20 days of receiving plaintiff's notice of rescission. The panel also held that the district court improperly denied plaintiff leave to amend the complaint. View "Hoang v. Bank of America NA" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed an order denying Appellant’s claim that his paintings were statutorily exempt from execution to satisfy a judgment debt, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the paintings were not exempt from execution as “pictures” under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-20-106(a)(i). RADC/CADC Venture, LLC, which obtained a judgment against Appellant for nearly two million dollars, assigned its interest in the judgment to Radiance Capital Receivables Nineteen, LLC (Radiance). Radiance then applied for a writ of execution to be issued against Appellant’s real, personal and equitable assets located in Teton County. The Teton County Sheriff attached Appellant’s property, which included more than thirty works of art consisting primarily of paintings. On appeal, Appellant argued that his paintings were “pictures” that qualified for the exemption set forth in section 1-20-106(a)(i). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the term “pictures” in the statute did not extend to Appellant’s paintings. View "Crow v. 2010-1 RADC/CADC Venture, LLC" on Justia Law

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Next Century purchased the Century Plaza Hotel in mid-2008, for $366.5 million. As of January 1, 2009, the property’s enrolled assessed value was $367,612,305. Next Century sought a reduction in the assessed value because the “global economic meltdown” had caused the property’s market value to drop significantly. The Los Angeles Assessment Appeals Board considered discounted cash flow (DCF) analyses that reflected a decline in value below the enrolled value. The Assessor did not attempt to defend the enrolled value. The Board rejected the Assessor’s DCF analysis as overstating the hotel’s 2006 net operating income. Next Century asserts that if the Assessor’s analysis were corrected, it would generally support Next Century’s proposed value. The Board also rejected Next Century’s proposed valuation and upheld the enrolled value, although no party thought it correctly reflected the property’s lien date value. Next Century sued for a tax refund. The court of appeal reversed a judgment in favor of the County. The Board’s rejection of Next Century’s valuation, without sufficient explanation, and with knowledge that the Assessor’s valuation analysis—if corrected— would result in a valuation significantly lower than the enrolled value, was arbitrary, as was its decision to leave in place an enrolled value that had been repudiated by the Assessor and was unsupported by any evidence. The Board’s cryptic findings are insufficient to bridge the analytic gap between the evidence and its conclusions. View "Next Century Associates v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her sister inherited a San Jose house when their mother died in 2003. They took title as tenants-in-common. A recorded deed reflected that each owned an undivided 50 percent interest. Plaintiff lived in the home; her sister did not. In 2009, plaintiff’s sister granted her a life estate in the 50 percent interest that plaintiff did not already own. The deed reflecting that transfer was recorded. The 2009 transfer resulted in plaintiff having sole ownership rights for the rest of her life, with her sister regaining a 50 percent interest in the property on plaintiff’s death. Based on the 2009 transfer, the County reassessed the property’s value under a statute allowing for recalculation of a property’s tax basis upon a change in ownership. The new valuation resulted in a higher property tax bill. Plaintiff unsuccessfully requested a revised assessment on the ground that the creation of a life estate did not constitute a change in ownership. Plaintiff then sued, seeking a property tax refund. The court appeal affirmed a holding that the 2009 deed granting plaintiff a life estate constituted a change in ownership and the reassessment was in conformity with the law. View "Durante v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law