Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Plaintiff alleges she bought her Richmond home in 1973, refinanced her mortgage in 2005, and unsuccessfully applied for a loan modification in 2015. Plaintiff was not allowed to make payments in the interim and owed $20,000 in arrears. Plaintiff sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief. She was required to make monthly payments to cover her pre-petition mortgage arrears plus her regular monthly mortgage payments. Plaintiff failed to make her regular October 2016 mortgage payment. Defendant sought relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay. The bankruptcy court approved an agreement that she would pay the October and November payments over a period beginning in January 2017. Plaintiff claims defendant violated that agreement, that her attempts to make those payments failed, and that she was unable to contact the defendant’s “single point of contact” for foreclosure avoidance (Civil Code 2923.7) Defendant obtained relief from the bankruptcy stay and would not accept the January 2017 payment. At the time of the bankruptcy sale, plaintiff’s home was worth approximately $550,000; defendant sold the home for $403,000. The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim that she should have been able to avoid foreclosure by tendering the amount in default (Civ. Code 2924c) and that it was unlawful for defendant also to demand payment on amounts subject to a confirmed bankruptcy plan and reversed the dismissal of the section 2923.7 claim but upheld the dismissal of breach of contract, negligence, and elder abuse claims. View "Williams v. 21st Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law

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Farid Hedayatzadeh (Hedayatzadeh) appealed following the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the City of Del Mar (the City) in his lawsuit arising out of the death of his 19-year-old son, who was struck by a train on an oceanfront bluff in Del Mar on property owned by North County Transit District (NCTD). Specifically, Hedayatzadeh argued the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on his single cause of action alleging a dangerous condition of public property based primarily on the City's failure to erect any barriers to prevent pedestrians from accessing NCTD's train tracks. On the night at issue, Javad Hedayatzadeh and his friends walked around the guardrail at the end of 13th Street, down an unimproved dirt embankment, and crossed the train tracks. The group then walked northbound on the west side of the tracks to a spot where they sat and smoked marijuana. They knew they were trespassing on NCTD property. At various points along the railroad right-of-way, NCTD has installed signs stating "No Trespassing," "Danger" and "Railroad Property." Javad noticed a freight train coming from the south and told his friends that he was going to use his phone to take a video "selfie" of himself next to the train. As Javad was near the train tracks taking the selfie, he was struck by the train and killed. After filing an unsuccessful claim under the Government Claims Act, Javad's father, Hedayatzadeh, filed this lawsuit against the City, NCTD, and BNSF Railway Company, which allegedly operated the freight train. The Court of Appeal concluded that, as a matter of law, the City's property at the end of 13th Street did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property even though the City did not take action to prevent pedestrians from accessing the train tracks on NCTD's adjacent right-of-way by walking around the guardrail at the end of the street. View "Hedayatzadeh v. City of Del Mar" on Justia Law

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The LLC, the successor in interest to the first landowner, appealed from the judgment upholding the unrecorded parking affidavit as an irrevocable license in favor of plaintiff, the successor in interest to the second property owner. The LLC claimed that the trial court erred as a matter of law by upholding the parking affidavit even though there was no actual or constructive notice of the parking affidavit when the property was purchased. The Court of Appeal held that an irrevocable license is not binding on a subsequent purchaser who takes without notice. The court held that Noronha v. Stewart, (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 485, does not accurately characterize the assignability of an irrevocable license; to the extent an irrevocable license functions as an easement, it must be recorded to bind subsequent purchasers without actual notice; and, in this case, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety's failure to require recording of the 1950 parking affidavit and its present belief the parking affidavit was binding on subsequent purchasers are irrelevant. View "Gamerberg v. 3000 E. 11th Street, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Plaintiffs borrowed $110 million from Bear Stearns to finance the purchase of a San Francisco apartment complex. In 2010, after plaintiffs defaulted, CP purchased the property at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. Plaintiffs sued CP and others, alleging legal claims (breach of contract, fraud, slander of title, trade secret misappropriation), and equitable claims (unfair competition, to set aside the foreclosure sale, and for an accounting). Judge Miller struck plaintiffs’ jury demand based on provisions in the contracts, held a bench trial, and entered judgment for defendants. The court of appeal concluded Judge Miller erred by striking plaintiffs’ jury demand as to the legal claims, finding no error as to the equitable claims, and remanded the legal claims. On remand, Judge Kahn held that Judge Miller’s findings in connection with plaintiffs’ equitable claim for unfair competition necessarily resolved plaintiffs’ legal claims because the substantive law allegations of the legal claims are also alleged as grounds that defendants violated the UCL. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments that after the partial reversal, plaintiffs were entitled to relitigate all factual issues relevant to the legal claims; that Judge Kahn violated the remittitur and the law of the case; that under the statutes governing judicial notice and summary judgment, Judge Kahn, could not consider the “truth” of the facts found by Judge Miller and even if Judge Miller’s findings had binding effect, those findings did not dispose of the legal claims. View "Rincon EV Realty LLC v. CP III Rincon Towers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Beau Gordon, a professional roofer, fell 35 feet through a "camouflaged hole" in a warehouse roof he was inspecting. For the resulting head injury, a jury awarded Gordon approximately $875,000 against the building's owner, ARC Manufacturing, Inc. (ARC) and Joseph Meyers. The primary issue on appeal was whether the trial court correctly refused to instruct on primary assumption of risk where, as here, defendants did not hire or engage Gordon. The Court of Appeal concluded that primary assumption of risk did not apply, rejected appellants' other contentions, and affirmed the judgment. View "Gordon v. ARC Manufacturing, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a 1958 real estate transaction between the predecessors in interest to plaintiff McDermott Ranch, LLC (McDermott) and the predecessors in interest to defendant Connolly Ranch, Inc. (Connolly). The parties owned adjoining ranches in an area called Section 10 in rural San Joaquin County, California. A dispute arose between the parties concerning the location of the southern and western borders of the Connolly parcel. According to Connolly, its parcel was approximately 165 acres with a border that ended at the Section 10 western and southern boundaries. McDermott argued the Connolly parcel was approximately 107 acres and only extended to a fence that ran along the western and southern portion of Section 10, plus a portion (the 24-acre Connolly defect) that connected the southeastern portion of the Connolly parcel to other land owned by Connolly in the adjacent Section 15. In September 2013, McDermott sued to quiet title to the disputed portions of Section 10 and to eject Connolly; Connolly cross-complained for the same relief. After a bench trial in 2016, the trial court awarded Connolly the disputed 58 acres under the agreed boundary doctrine, in part based on testimony from Mark Connolly regarding statements made by his father Robert Connolly about the background and intent of the parties in doing the 1958 transaction. Robert had negotiated the deal on behalf of his mother Ann Connolly, who was a predecessor in interest to Connolly. On appeal, McDermott contended the trial court erred in admitting the testimony regarding Robert’s hearsay statements under Evidence Code section 1323. McDermott also argued the remaining evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s judgment because the deed and related documents reflect the parties’ intent to grant Connolly the smaller parcel. Furthermore, McDermott argued the trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorney’s fees after finding that McDermott had unjustifiably failed to admit certain requests for admission. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "McDermott Ranch v. Connolly Ranch" on Justia Law

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If the principal secured by a mortgage or deed of trust becomes due because of the borrower’s default in making payments Civil Code 2924c allows the borrower to reinstate the loan and avoid foreclosure by paying the amount in default, plus specified fees and expenses. Under section 2953, the right of reinstatement cannot be waived in any agreement “at the time of or in connection with the making of or renewing of any loan secured by a deed of trust, mortgage or other instrument creating a lien on real property.” The borrowers missed four monthly payments on a mortgage loan that had been modified after an earlier default. The modification deferred amounts due on the original loan and provided that any default would allow the lender to void the modification and enforce the original loan. The borrowers sought to reinstate the modified loan by paying the four missed payments, plus fees and expenses. The lender argued that section 2953 does not apply to the modified loan and that the borrowers may reinstate the original loan by paying the amount of the earlier default on the original loan plus the missed modified payments. The court of appeal ruled in favor of the borrowers. Modification is appropriately viewed as the making or renewal of a loan secured by a deed of trust and is subject to the anti-waiver provisions. Section 2924c gives the borrows the opportunity to cure their precipitating default (the missed modified monthly payments) by making up those missed payments and paying the associated late charges and fees, to avoid the consequences of default on the modified loan. View "Taniguchi v. Restoration Homes LLC" on Justia Law

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In 1997 the Water District sued to adjudicate rights in the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin. Landowners (primarily farmers) filed cross-complaints, seeking to quiet title to their overlying rights. In a previous appeal, the court directed the trial court to quiet title to the Landowners’ overlying rights to native groundwater as having priority over the other rights, less the perfected prescriptive rights public water producers (who pump water for municipal and industrial use). The court later held that quantification of the proportionate prescriptive loss attributable to each of the landowners’ parcels was unnecessary and that the quiet title judgment was not illusory. The trial court then denied the Landowners’ motion to clarify that the amended judgment protects their overlying rights from future prescription The court of appeal reversed the denial on the merits, finding that the issue was not ripe. The resolution of the issue would require speculation about hypothetical situations in which the public water producers attempt to prescript against the Landowners’ rights. There is no specific fact scenario or evidence for review. The Landowners have not demonstrated that they will suffer hardship without an immediate decision; there is no evidence of an overdraft or of any asserted claims of prescription. View "City of Santa Maria v. Adam" on Justia Law

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Canyon View appealed from the trial court's orders denying its motion for attorney fees and costs under the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL). In the published portion of this opinion, the court held that an action need not involve the mobilehome park management-resident relationship or landlord-tenant issues in order for it to "arise out of" the MRL. In this case, because Canyon View's actions against Lakeview, the BONY respondents, and the Household respondents were necessary to perfect Canyon View's right to free and clear title under the MRL, they arose out of the MRL, and Canyon View, as the prevailing party, was entitled to recover its reasonable attorney fees and costs. View "Canyon View Ltd. v. Lakeview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Under Water Code section 13304, a prior owner of property may be required to participate in the cleanup of wastes discharged from its property that resulted in groundwater contamination if that person “caused or permitted” the discharge. The San Francisco Regional Board named UATC in a cleanup order addressing waste discharges from dry cleaning operations at a shopping center owned by UATC in the 1960s and 1970s. The court of appeal reversed, in favor of the Board. The knowledge component of the statutory element of “permitted” focuses on the landlord’s awareness of a risk of discharge: a prior owner may be named in a section 13304 cleanup order upon a showing the owner knew or should have known that a lessee’s activity created a reasonable possibility of a discharge of wastes into waters of the state that could create or threaten to create a condition of pollution or nuisance. The court rejected UATC’s argument that its liability was discharged in a 2000 bankruptcy reorganization proceeding. Even assuming the Regional Board’s entitlement to a cleanup order was a claim within the meaning of bankruptcy law, it was not discharged in UATC’s bankruptcy proceeding because it did not arise before confirmation of reorganization. View "United Artists Theater Circuit, Inc. v. Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Region" on Justia Law