Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the decision of the district court reversing the decision of the director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) denying Brook Mining Company's application for a permit to develop and operate a new surface coal mine, holding that the issues presented in this appeal were moot.The EQC concluded that the permit application was deficient and denied Brook Mining Company's application. The Director of the WDEQ then denied the permit. The district court reversed. While this appeal was pending, Brook Mining Company submitted a revised permit application. The Director issued a decision that approved the revised permit application. Also while the appeal was pending, the legislature changed the regulatory structure for the approval of new coal mine applications by removing the opportunity for an EQC contested case hearing prior to the Director's decision. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the issues in this appeal do not continue to present a justiciable controversy and have thus become moot. View "Fisher v. Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality" on Justia Law

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Property owners and the contractors they hired to build a house had a dispute. The Georgia Supreme Court granted the owners' request for review to consider: (1) whether anticipated profits could be included in a materialmen’s lien; and (2) if so, whether the improper inclusion of such profits rendered the entire lien void. Because the Court of Appeals correctly held that anticipated profits could not be included in a lien and that their inclusion does not invalidate the entire lien, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Massey et al. v. Duke Builders, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision reversing the circuit court's order dismissing Property Owners' appeal from the decision of the Kenton County Board of Adjustment granting approval of a conditional use application to allow the operation of a nursery school in a residential zone, holding that Kentucky law requires that a party must claim to be "injured or aggrieved" to perfect an appeal to circuit court under Ky. Rev. Stat. 100.347(1).After the Board unanimously granted the conditional use application Property Owners filed an appeal, alleging that the Board's action was improper because it did not meet certain statutory requirements and the requirements of the Kenton County Zoning Ordinance. The circuit court dismissed the appeal, concluding that Property Owners failed to allege that they were injured or aggrieved by the final action of the Board, and therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed, interpreting the "injured or aggrieved" language to be a standing requirement rather than a jurisdiction requirement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Property Owners failed to follow the appeal procedures in section 100.347(1) by not claiming in the complaint to be injured or aggrieved, and therefore, the circuit court appeals properly dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. View "Kenton County Board of Adjustment v. Meitzen" on Justia Law

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Named plaintiffs filed a two-count class-action complaint on behalf of “all residents of the City of Chicago who have resided in an area where the City has replaced water mains or meters between January 1, 2008, and the present.” The complaint raises claims of negligence and inverse condemnation in relation to the replacement of water meters and water main pipes, as well as the partial replacement of lead service lines that run between the water mains and residences throughout Chicago. The complaint claimed the city’s actions created an increased risk that lead will be dislodged or leach from the residents’ individual service lines. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the complaint.The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The complaint did not allege that anyone is suffering from any physical impairment, dysfunction, or physically disabling consequence caused by the city's actions. An increased risk of harm is not, itself, an injury consistent with the traditional understanding of tort law. The plaintiffs have alleged only that the replacement of water mains and meters has made the proposed class members’ property “more dangerous.” The concept of “dangerousness” is not susceptible to objective measurement and, thus, cannot by itself constitute damage under the Illinois takings clause. View "Berry v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals granting summary judgment to the State and denying AWMS Water Solutions, LLC's petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and others (collectively, the State) to initiate property-appropriation proceedings, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained regarding whether AWMS had suffered a total or partial taking.AWMS, a disposer of waste from oil and gas production and drilling sites, obtained permits to drill and inject saltwater in wells on its property. After an earthquake occurred, AWMS was ordered to suspend its operations at one of its wells. In its petition for a writ of mandamus, AWMS alleged that a suspension order effected a governmental taking of its property requiring the State to pay just compensation. The court of appeals granted summary judgment for the State and denied the mandamus petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) AWMS was justified in pursuing compensation through a takings action and that its claim was ripe at the time it instituted its action; and (2) there was a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the State's suspension of operations at the well deprived AWMS of all economically beneficial use of its leasehold. View "State ex rel. AWMS Water Solutions, LLC v. Mertz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the land court judge dismissing the Town of Sudbury's complaint seeking to prevent the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) from entering into an option agreement with Eversource Energy for an easement to install an electric transmission line underneath nine miles of a disused right of way (ROW), approximately 4.3 miles of which extend through the town, holding that the Town could not prevail on either of its claims.Here, the Town asked the Supreme Court to extend the common-law doctrine of prior public use and to determine that the doctrine barred the diversion of public land devoted to one public use to an inconsistent private use. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to adopt the Town's proposed reworking of the doctrine, holding that the Land Court judge did not err in dismissing the Town's complaint because (1) Eversource's proposed use of the MBTA ROW to construct and operate underground transmission lines is not a public use; and (2) the Town has not demonstrated that the benefits of expanding the prior public use doctrine to encompass subsequent inconsistent private uses outweigh the value of adhering to this Court's longstanding common-law formulation. View "Town of Sudbury v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's petition compelling Appellee, the Missoula County Clerk and Recorder, to record Appellant's certificate of survey (COS), holding that Appellee did not have a clear legal duty to record the COS.The district court dismissed Appellant's petition for writ of mandamus, finding that Appellee was not under a clear, non-discretionary, legal duty to record Appellant's COS bearing language certifying that a subdivision qualified for an exemption that the relevant reviewing authority found to be inapplicable and declined to approve. The Supreme Court affirmed holding that the district court was correct in dismissing the petition for writ of mandamus because Appellee was not under a clear legal duty to record a COS bearing a certification of exemption from sanitary review that Appellant was not approved for. View "Richards v. Gernant" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Defendant's appeal from the order of the district court granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on its diversity action seeking a declaratory judgment specifying its property rights in a commercial complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, holding that the district court never issued a final decision.After granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, the district court directed Plaintiff to submit a proposed declaration for the Court's consideration and instructed the Clerk of Court to enter judgment as to Defendants. After Defendant filed a notice of appeal Plaintiff submitted its proposed declaration. The district court, however, stayed the proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal. The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that, without a final declaratory judgment, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "WM Capital Partners 53, LLC v. Barreras, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2005-2007, the borrowers obtained residential home mortgages on California properties. California law would normally have entitled them to “at least 2 percent simple interest per annum” on any funds held in escrow, California Civil Code Section 2954.8. The lender, a federal savings association organized and regulated under the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 (HOLA), 12 U.S.C. 1461, did not pay interest because HOLA preempts California law. In a suit against the lender’s successor, Chase, a national bank organized and regulated under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 38, the district court denied the lender’s motion to dismiss; the Ninth Circuit has held that there is no “conflict preemption” between the National Bank Act and the California law.The Ninth Circuit reversed. HOLA field preemption principles applied to the claims against Chase even though its conduct giving rise to the complaint occurred after it acquired the loans in question. Because California’s interest-on-escrow law imposed a requirement regarding escrow accounts; affected the terms of sale, purchase, investment in, and participation in loans originated by savings associations; and had more than an incidental effect on the lending operations of savings associations, it was preempted by 12 C.F.R. 560.2(b)(6) and (b)(10), and 560.2(c). View "McShannock v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA" on Justia Law

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Advanced Disposal Services South, LLC, Advanced Disposal Services Alabama Holdings, LLC, Advanced Disposal Services, Inc., Tallassee Waste Disposal Center, Inc., and Stone's Throw Landfill, LLC (collectively, "Advanced Disposal"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to order the Macon Circuit Court ("the trial court") to dismiss, an action filed by Jerry Tarver, Sr., because, they claimed, the action cannot proceed in the absence of the City of Tallassee ("the City") as a party. In May 2017, Tarver sued Advanced Disposal, the utilities board, and fictitiously named defendants seeking monetary damages as well as injunctive relief for exposure to allegedly contaminated water that had been illegally "discharged" into the river and ultimately sold by the utilities board for consumption by its customers. The complaint alleged Advanced Disposal unlawfully discharged its leachate into the City's stabilization pond, knowing that the leachate could not be properly treated before the resulting effluent was discharged into the river. Tarver also alleged Advanced Disposal discharged "pollutants" into various creeks and tributaries flowing into the river in violation of its storm-water discharge permit. The Alabama Supreme Court denied relief, finding that this action could proceed in equity and good conscience without the City. "The City's role in the underlying dispute potentially makes the City a joint tortfeasor with Advanced Disposal, the utilities board, and MCWA; it does not, however, make the City an indispensable party under the particular facts of this case." View "Ex parte Advanced Disposal Services South, LLC" on Justia Law