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Plaintiff Alpine Haven Property Owners' Association, Inc. (AHPOA) appealed a trial court's decision in its collection action against defendant-homeowners Harry and Lynette Brewin. In awarding judgment to AHPOA, the court calculated what it considered a reasonable annual fee that AHPOA could charge defendants for services it provided, including garbage pickup and road maintenance. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the court erred in replacing AHPOA's fee with its own given the absence of any evidence to show that AHPOA acted in bad faith or that its fee was unreasonable. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alpine Haven Property Owners Assn., Inc. v. Brewin" on Justia Law

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The Firing Range Neighborhood Group, LLC (Neighborhood Group) appealed an environmental court decision declining to find Act 250 jurisdiction over a firing range operated by the Laberge family (Laberge). Neighborhood Group argued the environmental court erred by: (1) allowing Laberge's untimely appeal; (2) concluding that because Laberge did not rely on donations, it was not operating for a commercial purpose; and (3) granting preclusive effect to a 1995 jurisdictional opinion. The Laberge family owned and operated a 287-acre farm, of which ten acres have been used as a shooting range since the 1950s by Laberge and the public. In November 2015, the recently formed Neighborhood Group requested a new jurisdictional opinion from the Commission. Neighborhood Group argued that since 1995, the range had begun operating with a "commercial purpose," citing the continued acceptance of donations and 2012 berm placements and bench repairs. Members complained of a sharp increase in the volume, intensity, and hours of shooting noise over the years since. In February 2016, the Commission issued a jurisdictional opinion (2016 JO), finding that, due to regular donations from municipalities, the range was now operating for a commercial purpose such that the construction of berms and shooting benches subjected the range to Act 250 jurisdiction. The environmental court declined to impose Act 250 jurisdiction, finding that Neighborhood Group had "fail[ed] to meet its burden of proof showing that cash donations are necessary for the [r]ange to operate" or that "there has been a change in donations to the [r]ange since the 1995 JO was issued that would create a commercial purpose where none existed before." The Vermont Supreme Court determined the environmental court did not abuse its discretion in finding excusable neglect and allowing Laberge's untimely appeal. Neither did it err when it concluded that Laberge, which had never charged for the use of the range and did not rely on donations for its operation, was not operating for a commercial purpose within the meaning of Act 250. "Laberge's range, consisting of a farm field with several benches and earthen berms, is not operating for a commercial purpose any more than a backyard corn maze or community garden space offered to the public free of charge. Act 250 sought to protect Vermont's unique environmental and cultural heritage at a time when the rapid proliferation of large-scale developments was dramatically altering many landscapes and communities around the nation. The text and spirit of Act 250, consistent with our prior decisions, informs our conclusion that the Act was not intended to apply to a family dairy farm that allows the community to target practice on its fields free of charge." View "In re Laberge Shooting Range (Firing Range Neighborhood Group, LLC, Appellant)" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of claimants' motion to release property under civil forfeiture law. The property at issue stemmed from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids that were a controlled substance or controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption. Determining that the court had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that, assuming arguendo, Supplemental Rule G(2)(f) applied in reviewing pretrial property restraints outside the motion-to-dismiss context, the district court used the right standard. In this case, the district asked whether the government's complaint "demonstrated with sufficient particularity for the current stage of the proceedings that defendants intentionally commingled tainted funds with untainted funds for the purpose of facilitating the alleged money laundering.” The court held that the facts here were sufficient to support this standard. The court also held that probable cause for forfeiture existed based on the charge for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. View "United States v. $472,871.95 in Funds Seized" on Justia Law

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The successor trustee to the 1713 Stearns LaVerne Family Trust (Stearns), filed suit against numerous defendants for claims arising from an allegedly void assignment of the deed of trust (DOT) on real property located at 1713-1717 Stearns Drive in Los Angeles, California (the property), and a failed short sale agreement. The trial court sustained the demurrer as to some defendants and denied the trustee's request for leave to amend. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying leave to amend. The court held that the trial court properly sustained the demurrers to all causes of action; but that the trial court abused its discretion in denying leave to amend because the trustee was the owner of the property and had proposed facts that, if true, were sufficient to establish that the August 21, 2008 assignment was void. Accordingly, the trial court was directed to grant the trustee leave to amend the complaint. View "Hacker v. Homeward Residential, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated a judgment of foreclosure entered by the district court in favor of M&T Bank following a nonjury trial on M&T Bank’s complaint and remanded for entry of a judgment in favor of Lawrence Plaisted, holding (1) M&T Bank failed to lay a proper foundation for admitting loan servicing records pursuant to the business records exception to the hearsay rule, and (2) M&T Bank failed to prove the amount owed on the note. On appeal, Plaisted argued that the court abused its discretion by admitting Exhibit E pursuant to the business records exception to the hearsay rule and erred in concluding that M&T Bank proved the amount owed on the note. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding that M&T Bank failed to meet its burden of proving the amount owed by presenting evidence of information regarding the original amount of the loan, the total amount paid by the mortgagor, and other information in a form that was both accessible and admissible. View "M&T Bank v. Plaisted" on Justia Law

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Third-party defendant Dr. George Likakis was charged with aggravated arson and insurance fraud after a fire destroyed a building he owned (the Property). Plaintiff RSI Bank held a first-priority mortgage on the Property, and defendant/third-party plaintiff The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Providence) issued a commercial liability policy that covered the Property. Following the fire, Likakis and RSI Bank submitted insurance claims. Providence denied both sets of claims. Providence’s denial of coverage prompted the filing of two actions in the Law Division: (1) filed by Likakis against Providence; and (2) an action gave rise to this appeal: RSI Bank’s claims against Providence for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, and bad faith. Providence filed a third-party complaint against Likakis, alleging claims for indemnification. Both civil lawsuits were pending when criminal proceedings commenced against Likakis. Likakis was indicted; Providence did not object to Likakis’ admission to the PTI program, provided he paid restitution, committed to protect/compensate Providence from all claims that might be brought by RSI, and dismissal of Likakis’ suit against Providence. With Likakis’s consent - but no assessment of his ability to pay - the court also imposed the three conditions that Providence had requested. During his PTI term, Likakis paid Providence the specific restitution amount and dismissed with prejudice his lawsuit. Likakis did not make any payment related to the separate indemnification provision. With the prosecutor’s consent, the PTI court terminated Likakis’s PTI supervision and dismissed his indictment. RSI Bank and Providence settled their coverage dispute. Providence agreed to pay RSI Bank to settle all of the bank’s claims based on the insurance policy and moved for summary judgment against Likakis based on the provision of the PTI agreement. The court held that the indemnification provision of the PTI agreement was enforceable against Likakis and ordered Likakis to pay Providence the portion of the settlement funds Providence attributed to fire damage, less the amount Likakis had paid during his PTI supervisory period. Likakis appealed, and an Appellate Division panel affirmed. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding an open-ended agreement to indemnify the victim of the participant’s alleged offense for unspecified future losses was not an appropriate condition of PTI. Moreover, a restitution condition of PTI was inadmissible as evidence in a subsequent civil proceeding against the PTI participant. The indemnification provision of the PTI agreement at issue should have played no role in this civil litigation. View "RSI Bank v. The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a statutory city does not have express authority under Minn. Stat. 462.358(2)(a) to condition approval of a subdivision application on the payment of an infrastructure charge for future road-improvement projects. Respondent submitted an application to the City of Woodbury for approval to subdivide and develop a parcel of land. The City conditioned approval of the subdivision application upon payment of a roadway charge. Respondent then brought this action against the City. The lower courts determined that the City lacked statutory authority to impose an infrastructure charge under section 462.358(2)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute did not authorize the City’s infrastructure charge. View "Harstad v. City of Woodbury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) adopting the property value stated in an appraisal report presented by the Licking Heights Local Schools Board of Education (BOE), holding that the property owner’s jurisdictional challenges to the decision below were unavailing. On appeal, the property owner argued (1) its withdrawal of the complaint it originally filed for tax year 2011 deprived the Franklin County Board of Revision (BOR) of jurisdiction to proceed on the BOE’s countercomplaint; and (2) the BOR’s jurisdiction was limited to consideration of the land value because the property owner’s original complaint contested the land value and not the value of improvements. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the voluntary dismissal of a complaint filed under Ohio Rev. Code 5715.19(A) does not retroactively invalidate a complaint filed under section 5715.19(B); and (2) the administrative tribunals’ jurisdiction under the BOE’s complaint was not limited to determining land value. View "Licking Heights Local Schools Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal from a decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) was how best to determine the true value of a low income housing property that is both rent restricted and rent subsidized. Appellant, the property owner in this case, argued that rents as derived from rent-restricted comparable should be used in determining the true value of such a property but that the property’s rent subsidies should be excluded from consideration. The board of education, however, argued that the property’s actual rents, which include tenant-paid rent and rent subsidies, should be used. The Supreme Court vacated the BTA’s decision, holding that the BTA failed to weigh and analyze a potentially material piece of evidence presented by Appellant, and given the BTA’s failure to discharge its duty as the finder of fact, the case must be remanded with instruction that the BTA “explicitly account” for the evidence at issue, along with other evidence. View "Columbus City Schools Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling in favor of Plaintiff on his claim that Defendants failed to pay him for work he performed on their residence, holding that there was no merit to Defendants’ assignments of error on appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiff was entitled to recover under the theory of unjust enrichment when a contract existed between the parties and Plaintiff had a statutory remedy of foreclosure on his construction lien; (2) there was evidence to support the unjust enrichment recovery; and (3) the district court did not err in denying Defendants’ motion to transfer venue. View "Bloedorn Lumber Co. v. Nielson" on Justia Law