by
The federal criminal forfeiture statute, 21 U.S.C. 853, does not authorize the pretrial restraint of a defendant's innocently-obtained property. Section 853(e) permits the government to obtain a pretrial restraining order over only those assets that are directly subject to forfeiture as property traceable to a charged offense. Consequently, the Fourth Circuit overruled its precedents to the contrary, United States v. McKinney (In re Billman), 915 F.2d 916 (4th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 952 (1991), and United States v. Bollin, 264 F.3d 391, 421–22 (4th Cir. 2001), and vacated the district court's order relying on those authorities. View "United States v. Chamberlain" on Justia Law

by
The right of an intervenor to offer evidence in a quiet title action is not restricted by the lis pendens statute. After Jacobsen Land and Cattle Company and the State entered into a purchase agreement for the sale of a parcel of Jacobsen’s land that included property fenced in with Terry Brown’s property, Brown filed and recorded a lis pendens with the county register of deeds. Brown then filed a quiet title action against Jacobsen, alleging ownership by adverse possession of the disputed property. The State moved for leave to intervene in the quiet title action. The court allowed the State to intervene. At trial, the court concluded that the State’s status as a subsequent purchaser under the lis pendens statute prevented the State from presenting evidence related to the adverse possession claim. After a trial, the court quieted title to the disputed property in Brown as against Jacobsen and any other entities claiming any interest therein. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the State was not permitted to offer evidence at trial, the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Brown v. Jacobsen Land & Cattle Co." on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CIC on the Trust's claims for breach of contract, vexatious refusal, and declaratory judgment. The court held that the district court properly afforded the appraisal provision its plain meaning in determining it was unambiguous, enforceable, and did not abridge the Trust's rights under Missouri's vexatious refusal statute; the district court properly concluded CIC did not waive the appraisal provision; the Trust's contention that there was no basis for the district court to order appraisal of all covered damages, including replacement cost, was unfounded; the district court committed no error in finding the Trust's breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law; and the district court properly granted CIC summary judgment on the Trust's vexatious refusal claim. View "Olga Despotis Trust v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
At issue was the use of a lien on real property as part of a deferred financing arrangement for the construction of water and sewer infrastructure to serve a new home development. To carry out a deferred financing strategy, Developer used an instrument called a declaration, which provided for payments of an annual assessment by future homeowners to Respondent. The declaration purportedly granted a lien by future homeowners to Respondent to secure the payment of the annual assessment and gave priority to that lien at a date before the development was constructed or any homeowner had granted such a lien. Petitioner, the holder of a deed of trust that arose out of the financing of one of the homes in the development, brought this action to clarify the priority of its interest in that property in relation to the lien asserted by Respondent for delinquent assessments. The Supreme Court held (1) the declaration recorded by Respondent did not itself create a lien on the property because Petitioner must follow the procedures set forth in the Maryland Contract Lien Act to establish a lien under the declaration with respect to delinquent assessments; and (2) the priority of that lien is determined by the date of its recording in the land records. View "Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. v. Saddlebrook West Utility Co., LLC" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo, alleging nonconformity with the requirements for foreclosing home equity loans and seeking a permanent injunction and forfeiture. The district court held that plaintiff's suit was time barred and dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Texas Supreme Court subsequently issued two opinions, Wood v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 505 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. 2016), and Garofolo v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, L.L.C., 497 S.W.3d 474 (Tex. 2016). The Fifth Circuit held that Wood and Garofolo constitute intervening changes in law sufficient to justify post-judgment relief for plaintiff on her claim to preclude foreclosure but not on her claim for forfeiture. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alexander v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

by
Chessie is a railroad authorized to operate one mile of track in Melrose Park, Illinois. It has apparently been many years since trains have run on that track. Krinos owns and operates an adjacent industrial facility. A spur and side track run over Krinos’s property; Chessie says it has easements to use those tracks. Chessie alleges that Krinos constructed a sewer line and did drainage work, burying parts of its tracks and creating a slope directing runoff that damaged other parts. After Chessie notified Krinos, Krinos removed the dirt from one track and did additional damage. Chessie filed suit, alleging trespass, negligence, and violation of 49 U.S.C. 10903. Section 10903 requires rail carriers to receive permission from the Surface Transportation Board before abandoning parts of their lines. Krinos counterclaimed, alleging that Chessie did not have easements to use the spur and side tracks and seeking a declaratory judgment, quiet title, and ejectment. The district court agreed that section 10903 did not create a private right of action and granted Krinos summary judgment. Chessie did not show that it had easements over Krinos’s property, and an independent contractor, not Krinos, caused the alleged intrusion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Section 10903 does not create an implied right of action. Chessie was not entitled to change its negligence theory after discovery. View "Chessie Logistics Co., LLC v. Krinos Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Litigation under the Public Records Act (PRA) (Gov. Code, sec. 6250 et seq.) is one of the rare instances where a losing party may still be deemed a prevailing party entitled to an attorney fee award. Ponani Sukumar appeals an order denying his motion for prevailing party attorney fees against the City of San Diego (City). Sukumar owns a home in San Diego (the Property). In about 1992, Sukumar's neighbors began complaining to the City about Sukumar's use of the Property. These complaints mostly involved parking issues and noise. In 2006 the City ordered Sukumar to take "immediate action to correct" municipal code violations occurring on the Property that constituted "a public nuisance." However, the City decided to not pursue the matter absent additional neighbor complaints. In 2015, Sukumar's attorney delivered a request to the City for "production of documents and information" under the PRA. The request sought 54 separate categories of documents, all relating to any neighbor's complaints about Sukumar. Twenty-four days after the request, the City wrote to Sukumar's attorney, stating that some potentially responsive documents were exempt from disclosure, and responsive, nonexempt records would be made available for Sukumar's review. Sukumar's attorney remained unconvinced that the City had produced all documents responsive to its request, and sought a writ of mandate or used other mechanisms to compel the documents' production. Though every time the City offered to certify it produced "everything," it would release additional documents. The trial court ultimately denied Sukumar's writ petition, finding that by 2016, the City had "in some fashion" produced all responsive documents. After stating Sukumar's writ petition was "moot" because all responsive documents had now been produced, the court stated, "Now, you might argue that you're the prevailing party, because the City didn't comply until after the lawsuit was filed. That's another issue." Asserting the litigation "motivated productions of a substantial amount of responsive public documents, even after the City represented to this [c]ourt there was nothing left to produce," Sukumar sought $93,695 in fees (plus $5,390 incurred in preparing the fee motion). Sukumar appealed the order denying his motion for prevailing party attorney fees against the City. The Court of Appeal reversed because the undisputed evidence established the City produced, among other things, five photographs of Sukumar's property and 146 pages of e-mails directly as a result of court-ordered depositions in this litigation. The Court remanded for the trial court to determine the amount of attorney fees to which Sukumar is entitled. View "Sukumar v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (Coldwell) marketed a vacant, bank-owned property in Simi Valley for sale. The property had a backyard with an empty swimming pool and diving board. While plaintiffs Jacques and Xenia Jacobs were viewing the property as potential buyers, Jacques stepped onto the diving board to look over the fence. The diving board base collapsed and Jacques fell into the empty pool. Plaintiffs sued Coldwell for negligence and loss of consortium. The trial court granted Coldwell’s motion for summary judgment, finding Coldwell was entitled to judgment on plaintiffs’ claim regarding the negligent condition of the diving board. Plaintiffs argued that they also were claiming that the empty pool was a dangerous condition. The court rejected this unpled, undisclosed theory of liability, concluding that even if the theory had been pled, Coldwell could not be held liable for failing to remedy the dangerous condition of the empty pool because Jacques’ accident was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Jacobs v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Co." on Justia Law

by
Property owners who purchased through a foreclosure sale sued the bank that sold the house, alleging that they were mislead the bank’s deed of trust was the first deed of trust, when another remained on the property, and was not extinguished by the foreclosure sale. Wells Fargo assigned any claim against the title insurer it had to David and Lina Hovannisian (the property owners), and the Hovannisians sued First American Title Insurance Company, alleging breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. First American moved for summary judgment, arguing its title insurance coverage had terminated, and no benefits were due. The motion was granted, and the Hovannisians appealed, arguing First American failed to establish that coverage did not continue under the title policy or there were no benefits due under the policy. They also contended triable issues of fact existed regarding their bad faith claim. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding First American showed, based on the facts Wells Fargo and the Hovannisians presented before and after the underlying action was filed, that there was no potential for coverage under the policy. The Hovannisians did not learn about the first deed of trust until after they purchased the property at the foreclosure sale without warranty. Thus, the only potential claim they had against Wells Fargo was for the alleged misrepresentations for which there was no liability or loss under the policy. View "Hovannisian v. First American Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of the motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by several property developers (Developers) alleging that the City of West Jordan violated statutory provisions that regulate how a municipality may spend impact fees collected from developers. The court held (1) Developers had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the impact fees they were assessed; (2) Developers failed to state a takings claim for which relief can be granted because Developers’ allegations that West Jordan either failed to spend impact fees within six years or spent the fees on impermissible expenditures were inadequate to support a constitutional takings claim; and (3) Developers did not have standing to bring a claim in equity. View "Alpine Homes, Inc. v. City of West Jordan" on Justia Law