by
The church converted a single-family residence in a Markham residential district into its house of worship. For more than 15 years, the congregation gathered at the house for worship services, choir rehearsals, and Bible studies. As the church grew, it remodeled the house,w which brought the church into contact with the city’s administration through permit applications and property inspections. The city denied a conditional use permit and sought a state court injunctions. The church challenged the zoning code under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc (RLUIPA), and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The district court ordered the church to apply for variances, which the city granted, along with a conditional use permit. The court then granted the city summary judgment, ruling the church’s claims were not ripe when filed and rendered moot. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The district court focused on the church not applying for parking variances before the lawsuit; that issue is related only tangentially to the church’s claims, which concern zoning use classifications. The ripeness of the church’s claims does not hinge on pursuit of parking variances that will not resolve them. Nor can a conditional use permit moot the church’s claim that such a permit is not needed. The key question is whether operating a church on the property is a permitted or conditional use. View "Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ v. Markham" on Justia Law

by
Land Holdings I, LLC, d/b/a Scarlet Pearl, LLC (“Casino”), sought to expunge a lien filed by GSI Services, LLC (“GSI”). The chancellor denied the Casino’s petition to expunge the lien because GSI performed work at the Casino within ninety days of filing its lien. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s order. View "Land Holdings I, LLC d/b/a Scarlet Pearl, LLC v. GSI Services, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the district court’s certification of its summary judgment ruling as final under Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b) was improper, and therefore, the Court did not have a final judgment before it to review. This appeal arose from a contest over the state water engineer’s resolution of who owned the water rights to a certain tributary of the Green River. The district court upheld the state engineer’s proposed determination that The Minnie Maud Reservoir and Irrigation Company was the owner of the disputed water rights. EnerVest, Ltd. appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the district court’s Rule 54(b) certification was insufficient to confer appellate jurisdiction upon the Court because the requirements for certification were not met; and (2) EnerVest lacked appellate standing because it was not an aggrieved party, and therefore, this Court declined to exercise its jurisdiction to treat the appeal as a petition for interlocutory appeal. View "EnerVest v. Utah State Engineer" on Justia Law

by
Western Energy Corporation appealed a district court judgment finding its quiet title action to be barred by applicable statutes of limitation and laches and awarding the mineral interests at issue to the Stauffers. In 1959, L.M. and C.S. Eckmann agreed to convey property to William and Ethel Stauffer through a contract for deed. The contract for deed included a reservation of the oil, gas, and other mineral rights in the property and described a five-year payment plan. After the payment plan concluded in 1964, the Eckmanns were to convey the property to the Stauffers by warranty deed. The warranty deed did not contain a mineral reservation, but stated that it was given "in fulfillment of a contract for deed issued on the 25th of May, 1959." Numerous conveyances, oil and gas leases, and similar transactions were completed by both the Eckmanns and Stauffers, as well as their successors in interest, between the execution of the warranty deed in 1959 and the filing of this quiet title action in 2016. Western Energy Corporation ("Western") obtained its interests in the subject minerals through mineral deeds executed in 1989 and 1990. The original parties to the warranty deed are all now deceased. Western filed this action to quiet title in 2016. Western and the Stauffers submitted stipulated facts to the district court. Although brought as a quiet title action, the relief requested was actually reformation of the warranty deed. The district court found reformation barred by the statutes of limitation as well as by the doctrine of laches. Further, the district court concluded the discrepancy between the contract for deed and the warranty deed was not enough to establish mutual mistake. Because it found that Western had not met its burden of proof to establish mutual mistake at the time of conveyance, the district court entered judgment quieting title of the minerals to the Stauffers. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Western Energy Corporation v. Stauffer" on Justia Law

by
George Seccombe and other heirs of Olaf Nasset ("Nasset heirs") and the intervener plaintiffs, Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc., appealed a judgment deciding ownership of certain minerals in Mountrail County, North Dakota. Olaf Nasset died in November 1961, and Lakeside State Bank, as executor of his estate, petitioned the county court for authority to sell real property belonging to the estate. On August 6, 1962, the county court ordered the final discharge of the executor. A few days later, the executor petitioned to re-open the estate because reserved mineral interests were inadvertently left out of the final decree and it was necessary that the estate be reopened for the sole purpose of correcting the error by entering an amended final decree of distribution including the 1/2 mineral interest. The county court granted the petition. On August 10, 1962, an amended final decree of distribution was entered, stating each of the five named heirs received a 1/10 mineral interest. In 2012, the Nasset heirs sued the heirs of Gilbert Rohde and other parties claiming an interest in the minerals through the Rohde heirs. The Nasset heirs sought to quiet title and determine ownership of the minerals, revision of the executor's deed, and damages for a slander of title claim. They alleged the original heirs of Olaf Nasset intended to reserve a one-half mineral interest and they are entitled to receive legal title to one-half of the minerals as provided in the published notice of sale of the real property and the amended executor's deed. The Nasset heirs also sued Lakeside for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging Lakeside had fiduciary obligations to the estate, it was aware or should have been aware of the heirs' intention to retain a one-half mineral interest, and it breached its fiduciary duty by executing the executor's deed to Gilbert Rohde without properly reserving the mineral interests.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Rohde heirs and against the Nasset heirs, quieted title in favor of the Rohde heirs, and dismissed the Nasset heirs' claim for slander of title. The district court concluded the Rohde heirs own the minerals because the original executor's deed approved by the court was final, a legal action was required to undo the executor's deed, neither the heirs nor the executor commenced an action to correct or vacate the deed, and therefore the subsequent orders and the amended deed had no effect. The court also concluded the Nasset heirs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Seccombe v. Rohde" on Justia Law

by
John Benson appealed a district court judgment quieting title action to Desert Partners IV, L.P. and Family Tree Corporation, Inc. for 32 net mineral acres in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Benson argued the district court abused its discretion in denying his request for a continuance of the trial and erred in its conclusion that Desert Partners and Family Tree were good-faith purchasers of the minerals. After careful consideration of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in its judgment, and affirmed. View "Desert Partners IV, L.P. v. Benson" on Justia Law

by
Marby and Susan Hogen appealed the grant of summary judgment in their quiet title action in favor of the Curtiss A. Hogen Trust B and the Estate of Arline Hogen for an interest in 737 acres of farmland in Barnes and Cass Counties, North Dakota. Marby and Susan Hogen argued the district court erred in not quieting title to the land in them. After review of the trial court record, which included the various conveyances over the course of 50 years, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Hogens held no interest in the land, and as such, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Trust and Estate. View "Hogen v. Hogen" on Justia Law

by
William and Maria Berlin (formerly Maria Weaver) appealed an amended judgment awarding attorney fees following resolution of litigation between the parties over a contract for deed. Irene Avila and the Berlins were involved in a dispute regarding a contract for deed. The district court ruled in favor of Avila, entered a judgment in the amount of $6,650, plus costs in the amount of $660.64, against the Berlins. The judgment provided that neither Avila nor the Berlins were awarded a recovery of their attorney fees. The underlying litigation over the contract for deed was not appealed by either party. Following the entry of the judgment, Avila filed a motion requesting a recovery of $13,450 of attorney fees and to amend the judgment in order to reflect the correct description of the property. The district court granted Avila's request for attorney fees, but reduced the amount to be recovered to $12,450. A notice of the order granting the attorney fee award was served upon the Berlins' counsel. An amended judgment and a monetary award judgment were entered January 30, 2018. The Berlins' notice of appeal contesting the attorney fee award was filed March 19, 2018. Avila challenges the timeliness of the Berlins' appeal. Avila contends the timeliness of the appeal should have been measured from November 30, 2017, the date the notice of entry of the order awarding attorney fees was served to the Berlins' attorney. Measuring the timeliness of the appeal from the date that notice of the order was served would result in the 60-day window for appeal closing on January 29, 2018, making the Berlins' appeal untimely. The Berlins argued the district court's initial denial of an award of attorney fees to either party precludes a subsequent motion for the recovery of attorney fees under N.D.R.Civ.P. 54. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the amended judgment. View "Avila v. Weaver" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Lisa Jacobs appealed both a jury verdict and a permanent injunction issued by the trial court in favor of plaintiffs Lorraine and Peter MacDonald. Defendant seasonally resided in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. According to plaintiffs, in 2012 they purchased a vacation home that abuts or was near defendant’s family’s property. Thereafter, defendant began letter-writing campaigns in which she falsely accused plaintiffs of, among other things, a variety of illegal activities. In 2016, plaintiffs sued defendant for defamation. Following a trial, the jury found that defendant’s statements were defamatory and that they were made with malice, thereby warranting the award of special damages. In addition, the trial court, finding defendant’s statements “vast and disturbing,” issued a permanent injunction prohibiting defendant from, inter alia, going within a five-mile radius of plaintiffs’ home in Fitzwilliam and from entering plaintiffs’ hometown in Sterling, Massachusetts. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred by: (1) denying a mistrial when plaintiffs’ counsel made a “golden rule” argument to the jury; (2) denying her motion for summary judgment because New Hampshire required proof of “actual damages” for defamation; (3) applying an incorrect standard to plaintiffs’ claim for enhanced compensatory damages; (4) determining that defendant’s speech was not of “public concern;” (5) admitting prejudicial other bad act evidence; and (6) “ordering [her] physical removal . . . from her family’s vacation property” in Fitzwilliam and “banishing” her from Sterling. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "MacDonald v. Jacobs" on Justia Law

by
Websites like Airbnb serve as intermediaries, providing homeowners a forum for advertising short-term rentals of their homes and helping prospective renters find rooms and houses for temporary stays. Chicago’s 2016 Shared Housing Ordinance requires interested hosts to acquire a business license; its standards include geographic eligibility requirements, restrictions on how many units within a larger building can be rented, and a list of buildings where such rentals are prohibited. Approved hosts are subject to health, safety, and reporting requirements, including supplying clean linens and sanitized cooking utensils, disposing of waste and leftover food, and reporting illegal activity known to have occurred within a rented unit. Keep Chicago Livable and six individuals challenged the Ordinance. The Seventh Circuit remanded for a determination of standing, stating that it was not clear that any plaintiff had pleaded or established sufficient injury to confer subject matter jurisdiction to proceed to the merits. The individual owners did not allege with particularity how the Ordinance (and not some other factor) is hampering any of their home-sharing activities; the out-of-town renters did not convey with sufficient clarity whether they still wish to visit Chicago and, if so, how the Ordinance is inhibiting them. All Keep Chicago Livable contends is that the alleged uncertainty around the Ordinance’s constitutionality burdens its education and advocacy mission; it does not allege that it engages in activity regulated by the Ordinance. View "Keep Chicago Livable v. Chicago" on Justia Law