Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's action with prejudice, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims of error.Plaintiff sued a neighboring confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) alleging common law nuisance, trespass, and drainage law violations. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on the statutory immunity in Iowa Code 657.11. Plaintiff, relying on , argued that section 657.11, as applied, violated the Iowa Constitution's inalienable rights clause. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the three-part test set forth in Gacke is overruled; (2) under rational basis review, Plaintiff's constitutional challenge to section 657.11 was unavailing; (2) Plaintiff failed to preserve error on his takings claim; and (3) as to Plaintiff's trespass and drainage claims Plaintiff failed to generate a question of fact precluding summary judgment on statutory nuisance immunity or causation. View "Garrison v. New Fashion Pork LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa regarding the validity of an agreement between the cities and Mahaska County to establish a regional airport authority, holding that Landowners had standing to challenge the agreement.Landowners brought this action seeking a judgment that the agreement at issue was illegal and an injunction to prevent the transaction. The district court held that Landowners lacked standing to bring the suit and granted summary judgment in favor of the Cities. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) by entering into the agreement, the County's Board of Supervisors bound future board to a particular course of legislative action, in violation of the Iowa Constitution; (2) the agreement violated precedent regarding delegation of a municipality's legislative power; and (3) therefore, the district court erred in declaring the agreement to be valid and ordering specific performance by the County of its obligations under the agreement. View "Site A Landowners v. South Central Regional Airport Agency" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court ruling that Willard McNaughton's right and interest in the disputed property in this case had been extinguished, holding that the district court erred.McNaughton entered into an easement agreement with Jeanine and Stanley Chartier to allow a portion of a road to pass through McNaughton's property. The Chartiers subsequently sold their property, giving rise to this dispute over a paved portion of the easement. The district court ruled that McNaughton had dedicated the concrete portion of the easement to the City of Lawton. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court erred in finding that McNaughton dedicated the concrete portion of the easement to the City and in holding that McNaughton's rights to the easement area were extinguished. View "McNaughton v. Chartier" on Justia Law

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In this case disputing whether a drainage district properly reclassified benefits in connection with a drainage repair project the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lower courts did not err.The drainage district at issue was formed more than a century ago, and a railroad that traversed the land within the district court was assessed 4.81 percent of the benefit of installation of tiling. In 2018, the drainage district determined that repairs were needed to the tiling and sought to reclassify the land in the district to equitably apportion the cost of the new repairs. The reclassification commission recommended that one-half of the repair cost be assessed to the railroad through the reclassification process. The drainage district approved the reclassification. The railroad brought this action challenging the reclassification. The district court granted summary judgment for the railroad, concluding that the reclassification commission acted inequitably, and declared the reclassification of benefits null and void. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the railroad met its burden of showing that the assessment was inequitable and improper as a matter of law. View "Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Drainage District 67 Board of Trustees" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over the just compensation award for commercial property the Supreme Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by limiting the testimony of the property owner regarding his opinion testimony that sales of other commercial property were comparable where that opinion required technical or specialized knowledge.An Iowa municipality condemned part of the owner's undeveloped land for a road. The district court allowed the owner to opine as to the site's reduction in value resulting from the taking but barred the owner's evidence of comparable sales on the grounds that the owner relied on hearsay and was unqualified as an expert. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the owner, a former restaurant manager, was not qualified as an expert under Iowa R. Evid. 5.702 to offer the opinion testimony given his lack of expertise and the complexity of these commercial real estate valuations. View "Rausch v. City of Marion" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this real estate dispute, holding that Plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to survive Defendants' motion for summary judgment.A few months after purchasing a home Plaintiff discovered water in the basement. Plaintiff later sued the sellers, her real estate agent, the seller's real estate agent, and a home inspector, alleging that they had misrepresented the condition of the house. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants based on Plaintiff's failure to designate an expert on causation and damages. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and reversed the summary judgment, holding that expert testimony was not required for Plaintiff to survive Defendants' motion for summary judgment on either causation or damages. View "Putman v. Walther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting a tax deed holder possession of disputed property and remanded the case for dismissal, holding that Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.943 barred the tax deed holder's third forcible entry and detainer (FED) action, and the district court erred in concluding otherwise.At issue was Rule 1.943, under which a second voluntary dismissal of a tax deed holder's FED action operates as an adjudication on the merits unless the court orders otherwise. The tax deed holder in this case twice purported to dismiss without prejudice its FED petition against the property owner who was delinquent in paying taxes. The district court allowed the tax deed holder's third FED action to go forward. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by allowing the third FED action to go forward because it involved the same claim as the two prior actions. View "ACC Holdings, LLC v. Rooney" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the district court affirming the decision of the Public Information Board that the Polk County Assessor violated the Open Records Act by refusing to disclose a list of property owners who asked that their names be removed from the public name search function on the Assessor's website, holding that a statutory exemption applied.A reporter sought the list at issue, and the Assessor withheld it as exempt from disclosure under Iowa Code 22.7(18). Thereafter, the reporter filed a complaint with the Board, which ordered the Assessor to disclose the list. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the Assessor had the burden to establish that the list was exempt under section 22.7(18); and (2) the Assessor met that burden, showing that the list is confidential, subject to resolution of an open issue. View "Ripperger v. Iowa Public Information Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that the contractual default interest rate applied in this dispute over the redemption of farmland and affirmed the court of appeals' decision requiring timely full payment of the amount necessary, holding that remand was required in this case.An attorney representing an investor underpaid the amount necessary to redeem farmland by at least $1,798 below the minimum owed. After concluding that the redemption was timely the district court resolved the parties' dispute over the interest rate by ruling that the contract default rate of twenty-one percent controlled, not the 4.25 percent nondefault rate. The court of appeals affirmed the twenty-one percent interest rate but concluded that the attempted redemption was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals and declined to grant equitable relief, holding that the court of appeals correctly held that the attempted redemption failed as untimely. View "Great Western Bank v. Clement" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss this petition seeking to force Defendants to enact legislation that will compel Iowa farmers to take action that will significantly reduce levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Raccoon River, holding that the motion to dismiss should have been granted.Plaintiffs - two social justice organizations - brought this case against Defendants - the State, four state agencies, and multiple state officials - seeking declaratory relief and to compel the State to adopt a "Raccoon River remedial plan with mandatory agricultural water pollution controls." Defendants moved to dismiss the petition based on lack of standing, nonjusticiability, and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the petition's attenuated causation theory was insufficient to establish that Plaintiffs' members suffered a concrete injury at the hands of Defendants that a favorable court decision was likely to redress; and (2) Plaintiffs' effort to repurpose the public trust doctrine to solve a complex environmental problem presented a nonjusticiable political question. View "Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement v. State" on Justia Law