Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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For several years Miller provided Dix with living space in her basement, without payment of rent. Miller told Dix to move out so she could sell the house. He refused; Miller called the police. Officers told Miller that she could not evict Dix without a court order. Miller called the police again the next day. Officers arrived, allegedly knowing that there had been no domestic disturbance. They prevented Dix from entering the house while Miller hauled Dix’s things outside. Dix protested and yelled insults. Officers threatened to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Eventually, Dix left and got a moving van. When he returned, the officers allowed him inside to retrieve his property but refused him access to certain rooms and took his keys.Dix a pro se suit, with 12 causes of action against nine defendants. The district court struck the pleading citing “redundant, impertinent, and scandalous allegations.” Dix amended his complaint. adding seven causes of action and five defendants, including Fourth Amendment claims against the officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. With respect to the Fourth Amendment claims, the court noted that Dix was free to leave at any time and that Miller maintained complete possession and control over her home but had granted Dix a revocable license. When a license is revoked, the licensee becomes a trespasser. A seizure of property occurs when there is meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests; here there was none. Even if there were a seizure, it was reasonable. View "Dix v. Edelman Financial Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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When Lillie Mae Bedford died in 1997, she left a residential property in Marietta, Georgia by testamentary devise to her daughter, Jennifer Hood. Although the Bedford estate never made and delivered a deed to Hood to perfect a conveyance of legal title, Hood lived on the property for some time after the death of her mother, and she paid the taxes associated with it. But beginning in 2009, the taxes on the property were unpaid, and in 2013, the property was sold to Crippen & Lawrence Investment Co., Inc. at a tax sale. More than 12 months later, Crippen took steps to foreclose the statutory right of redemption, and Crippen gave Hood notice of foreclosure. Once the redemption period expired, Crippen petitioned for quiet title. Hood did not respond to the petition, but the Bedford estate appeared and moved to dismiss, asserting the estate was entitled to notice of the foreclosure, and had not been served with such notice. Crippen responded that the estate was not entitled to notice because the executor by his conduct had assented to the devise of the property, which by operation of law passed title to Hood notwithstanding that the estate had made and delivered no deed, and that the estate, therefore, no longer had any interest in the property. A special master of the trial court determined the estate was entitled to notice and dismissed the quiet title petition. Crippen appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed. Upon further appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the appellate court: "assent may be presumed from legatee’s possession of the property. ... Although Crippen would not have standing to move a probate court to prospectively compel the executor of the Bedford estate to give assent that has been so far withheld, Crippen has standing in this quiet title proceeding to establish that the executor previously assented to the devise to Hood under the old Probate Code." View "Crippen & Lawrence Investment Co., Inc. v. A Tract of Land Being Known as 444 Lemon Street, et. al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the district court in favor of Plaintiffs on their claims of interference and negligence, holding that the district court erred in determining that Defendants interfered with Plaintiffs' wells and that remand was necessary on the negligence claim to consider whether it survives the dismissal of Plaintiffs' interference claims.Plaintiffs diverted their water obtained through their water rights through the use of two wells. Defendant had a junior water right and operated five wells that were deeper and stronger than Plaintiffs' wells. Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit alleging interference and negligence, claiming that Defendant interfered with their water rights because when one of Defendant's wells operated it lowered the water table and put the available water beyond the reach of Plaintiffs' pumps. The district ruled in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the district court's determination of interference, holding that Plaintiff failed to prove interference; and (2) declined to reverse the negligence ruling but, in light of the reversal of the district court's interference determinations, remanded this claim for reconsideration and further fact-finding, if necessary. View "Arave v. Pineview West Water Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Albany & Eastern Railroad Company (AERC) petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for reconsideration of its decision in Albany & Eastern Railroad Co. v. Martell, 469 P3d 748 (2020). In the previous case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of defendants, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that defendants established a prescriptive easement over plaintiff AERC’s land. By that decision, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. In its petition for reconsideration, plaintiff did not challenge the resolution of the prescriptive easement issue. Instead, plaintiff argued the Supreme Court erred in affirming the judgment of the trial court, rather than remanding the case to the Court of Appeals to consider a separate issue: the trial court’s award of attorney fees to defendants under ORS 20.080(2). Plaintiff had argued to the Court of Appeals that, even if defendants successfully asserted a prescriptive easement counterclaim, the trial court had no authority to award attorney fees to defendants. According to plaintiff, a prescriptive easement was an equitable remedy that fell outside of ORS 20.080. Defendants filed a response, arguing that the trial court was correct in its award of attorney fees. They also filed petitions for attorney fees and costs and disbursements. Plaintiff objected to the request for attorney fees, arguing that the issue of defendants’ entitlement to fees had not yet been resolved and, alternatively, that defendants’ claimed fees were unreasonable. The Supreme Court agreed with plaintiff that the matter of attorney fees should have been remanded to the Court of Appeals following its disposition on the merits. Accordingly, plaintiff’s petition for reconsideration was granted, and the disposition in the earlier case modified. Defendants' petition for fees was denied. View "Albany & Eastern Railroad Co. v. Martell" on Justia Law

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In this interpleader action seeking a judicial resolution of two disputed claims of ownership of proceeds from the sale of unclaimed corporate stock the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the buyer of the original stock, not the seller, had a super equitable claim of ownership, holding that the circuit court did not err.MCC Acquisition, LC purchased all of the assets of M.C. Construction, which included Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield stock. M.C. Construction never delivered the stock certificates, however, because it had never possessed them. Later, the Treasurer sold the stock and filed this interpleader action. The circuit court awarded the proceeds from the sale of the unclaimed corporate stock to MCC Acquisition, finding that MCC Acquisition had obtained equitable title to the Trigon stock. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly awarded the interpleader stock proceeds to MCC Acquisition; and (2) did not err in rejecting the argument that the statute of limitations barred MCC Acquisition's in rem claim. View "Day v. MCC Acquisition, LC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction alleging the existence of an easement allowing access to a gravel pit on Defendants' property, holding that the circuit court erred when it refused to recognize an easement implied by prior use.When Defendants attempted to block Plaintiffs' use of an access road to the gravel pit on Defendants' property Plaintiffs commenced the current action. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiffs' easement implied by prior use claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court (1) erred in applying the substantive law and the standards required by S.D. Codified Law 15.6-56; and (2) erred when it granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Heumiller v. Hansen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's application for an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs in this mandamus action, holding that attorney fees were not available.The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel the Ohio Department of Transportation and its director (ODOT) to conduct appropriation proceedings to determine the appropriate amount of compensation it should pay to New Wen, Inc., whose Wendy's restaurant was located at an intersection that ODOT closed. Thereafter, New Wen filed an application for attorney fees and other costs. ODOT opposed the application. The Supreme Court denied the application, holding that attorney fees were not available in this type of action. View "State ex rel. New Wen, Inc. v. Marchbanks" on Justia Law

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National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre wildlife sanctuary and botanical garden owned by the nonprofit North American Butterfly Association, lies along the border with Mexico. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned to build a segment of the border wall through the Center. The Association sued, citing the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and two environmental statutes. DHS has not analyzed the environmental impact of border wall-related activities at the Center (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)), nor consulted with other federal agencies about how to minimize the impact of those activities on endangered species. An appropriation act subsequently prohibited funding for border fencing at the Center.The district court dismissed all claims, citing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, 8 U.S.C. 1103, as stripping jurisdiction over the statutory claims because the DHS Secretary waived the application of environmental laws with respect to the construction of roads and physical barriers at the Center.The D.C. Circuit affirmed in part, first holding that the claims were not moot and that jurisdiction over the statutory claims was not stripped by IIRIRA, nor was review channeled directly to the Supreme Court. The court held that DHS’s waiver determination defeats the statutory claims, that the Association failed to state a Fourth Amendment claim of unreasonable seizure of property it acknowledges to be “open fields,” but that the Association stated a procedural due process claim under the Fifth Amendment. View "North American Butterfly Association v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the court of appeals in this dispute over the continuing validity of an interest in a mineral lease, holding that a reserved overriding royalty interest (ORRI) in a lease that includes an anti-washout provision extending the interest to new leases is a real property interest that violates the rule against perpetuities (the Rule).The court of appeals held that the ORRI violated the Rule and was no subject to reformation under the Property Code. The court further held (1) the indemnity agreement in this case was not invoked, and (2) sufficient evidence supported the appellate attorneys' fees awarded. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment on the issues of indemnity and attorneys' fees and otherwise reversed and remanded for the court of appeals to consider whether the ORRI in new leases may be reformed to comply with the Rule, holding that the ORRI in question must be reformed, if possible, in accordance with Tex. Prop. Code 5.043. View "Yowell v. Granite Operating Co." on Justia Law

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In this quiet title action, plaintiffs, holders of a first deed of trust on certain property, judicially foreclosed, but failed to name defendant, the holder of a second deed of trust on the same property, as a defendant in that action. Plaintiffs subsequently sought to quiet title to correct their mistake and to terminate defendant's lien.The Court of Appeal concluded that the statute of limitations on a judicial action to foreclose the first deed of trust had run, and the lien had been extinguished, prior to the filing of the quiet title action. In this case, the 60-year statute of limitations on which the trial court relied applied only to a nonjudicial trustee's sale; the trial court could not exercise the trustee's power of sale through a quiet title action after the expiration of the statute of limitations on a judicial action to foreclose; and, after the judicial foreclosure sale, there was no trustee holding title to the property who could transfer title through a trustee's sale. Therefore, plaintiffs' action was barred by the statute of limitations. The court reversed and vacated the trial court's judgment and entered a new judgment in favor of defendant. View "Robin v. Crowell" on Justia Law