Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's determination that the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy (Metro) has authority to impose land use restrictions on real property it does not own, holding that Metro's authority over the property did not extend beyond the authority it derived from its easement rights and that the district court's determination regarding the scope of the easement was in error. Metro owned an easement across land owned by the SHCH Alaska Trust. The district court found that Metro's status as a limited purpose local district of the state granted Metro authority beyond what is generally enjoyed by an easement holder to impose restrictions on Alaska's use of the property. The district court also determined that Metro's easement was 200 feet wide, basing the determination on a written description of the easement created by a civil engineer for the Federal Bureau of Reclamation in 1961. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court incorrectly interpreted the Limited Purpose Local Districts Act, Utah Code Title 17B, because no provision in the Act authorizes Metro to regulate Alaska's use of its own property; and (2) the court erred in concluding that the civil engineer's written description regarding the easement's scope was dispositive. View "Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy v. SHCH Alaska Trust" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the City of Bozeman, holding that Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-114 does not provide an implied private right of action for judicial enforcement of the Montana Water Use Act. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the City was in violation of the Act due to unpermitted water use and seeking injunctive relief and attorney fees. The City filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that the Act does not create a private right of action for enforcement through injunctive relief, nor does it create a private right of action. The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that section 85-2-114, which allows for judicial enforcement of the Act, doesn't support an implied private right of action for enforcement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the provisions of section 85-2-114 preclude the possibility that the Act provides an implied private right of enforcement of the Act. View "Lyman Creek, LLC v. City of Bozeman" on Justia Law

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In this adverse possession case involving two cattle ranches the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. Defendant owned a ranch that was historically known as Burnett Ranch. Plaintiffs were the most recent owners of Warbonnet Ranch. Plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and petition to quiet title with respect to three non-contiguous parcels of property that were deeded to Plaintiffs but fenced into Burnett Ranch. Defendant counterclaimed for adverse possession of those parcels. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded entry of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. View "Little Medicine Creek Ranch, Inc. v. D'elia" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a question of law to the Oregon Supreme Court on whether a constructive trust arises at the moment of purchase of a property using fraudulently- obtained funds, or if it arises when a court orders that a constructive trust be imposed as a remedy. Ronald Talmage ran a Ponzi scheme. Plaintiffs were victims of that scheme. Much of the money Plaintiffs invested with Talmage went to pay for a property he and his wife acquired, “RiverCliff.” When the Talmages divorced, a portion of moneys Plaintiffs invested with Ronald. Talmage failed to pay his taxes one year, and the IRS recorded tax liens on the property, leading to the underlying suit involving the constructive trust. The Oregon Supreme Court answered the first part of the Ninth Circuit’s question by clarifying that a constructive trust arises when a court imposes it as a remedy, but that the party for whose benefit the constructive trust is imposed has an equitable ownership interest in specific property that predates the imposition of the constructive trust. The Court answered the second part of the question by explaining that, in the circumstances of this case, plaintiffs had a viable subrogation theory that allowed them to seek a constructive trust based on equitable interests that predate all tax liens on the property. View "Wadsworth v. Talmage" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging two policies related to the provision of basic utility services from the City on the ground that the policies have a disproportionate impact on black and Hispanic residents. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that section 3604(b) of the Fair Housing Act is unambiguous and reaches certain post-acquisition conduct, including post-acquisition conduct related to the provision of services. The panel held that a service within the meaning of section 3604(b) must be a housing-related service that is directly connected to the sale or rental of a dwelling, and the water, gas, and electricity services at issue here fall within the scope of section 3604(b). Finally, the court rejected the City's argument that it is not a housing provider subject to section 3604(b), and held that section 3604(b) does not limit its applicability in such a manner and the court's case law has never held that only housing providers are subject to liability thereunder. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. City of LaGrange" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the circuit court's judgment granting Defendants summary judgment in part and, after a trial, entering a judgment consistent with the jury verdict, holding that a new trial on Plaintiffs' conversion and unjust enrichment claims was necessary. Plaintiffs loaned Defendants nearly $1.2 million, securing the loans with fifty-five promissory notes. Plaintiffs later sued Defendants for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and conversion. Defendants counterclaimed for conversion and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted Defendants summary judgment in part, dismissing forty-eight of the promissory notes as time barred and concluding that the related mortgage was unenforceable. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs on their breach of contract claim, rejected their claim for conversion, and awarded Defendants $135,000 on their conversion counterclaim. The jury then rendered an advisory verdict for Defendants as to the parties' competing claims for unjust enrichment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) abused its discretion by giving a missing witness instruction at trial, (2) erred by allowing the jury to determine the date to begin calculating interest on the enforceable promissory notes, and (3) erred in allowing the jury to consider evidence of the time-barred notes when considering Plaintiffs' claims of unjust enrichment. View "Mealy v. Prins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the California Coastal Commission's permit condition, which requires a certain construction set back, for the remodel of their beachside residence. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' petition for writ of administrative mandate, holding that substantial evidence supported the commission's determination that the remodel would have an adverse impact on the public's access to the beach. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies on their unconstitutional taking argument. View "Greene v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Defendant's and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim that the City of Fitchburg's refusal to exempt four sober houses Plaintiffs operated for recovering addicts from a legal requirement to install sprinklers in the sober houses violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the requested accommodation was not reasonable. Plaintiffs brought this suit under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3631, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The district court dismissed the suit on summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to show that an exemption from the sprinkler requirement was either reasonable or necessary to allow recovering addicts to live in and benefit from the sober houses. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in entering summary judgment on Plaintiffs' ADA and FHAA reasonable accommodation claims. View "Summers v. City of Fitchburg" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Pennymac and others for wrongful foreclosure, alleging that the assignment of his mortgage to Pennymac was invalid. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision to sustain the defense demurrer because plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting his claim. In this case, plaintiff's complaint seemed to suggest that a borrower, by refusing to pay, can prevent a lender from assigning the debt. The court held that plaintiff failed to give a logical basis for this strange suggestion. Furthermore, plaintiff's remaining causes of action also failed. View "Myles v. Pennymac Loan Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order amending its prior opinion, denying panel rehearing, and denying, on behalf of the court, rehearing en banc; and an amended opinion and dissent. The panel reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs in an action brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), alleging that Fannie Mae falsely communicated to potential mortgage lenders, via its proprietary software, called Desktop Underwriter, that plaintiffs had a prior foreclosure on a mortgage account. The panel held that Fannie Mae is not a consumer reporting agency because, even if it assembles or evaluates consumer information through Desktop Underwriter, it does not do so for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties. Therefore, the panel held that the district court erred by granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying Fannie Mae's cross-motion on this issue. The court also vacated the award of attorney's fees and costs to plaintiffs. View "Zabriskie v. Federal National Mortgage Association" on Justia Law