Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court concluding that the executor of the Estate of Thelma J. Taylor converted estate property and ordering the executor to repay double the converted property's value, as provided by Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-1704, holding that the statute's plain language does not limit its application.The court of appeals upheld the conversion finding but held that section 59-1704 did not apply because the property was taken before the executor was appointed to administer the estate. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals on the issue subject to review, holding (1) nothing in section 59-1704 limits its application only to circumstances when the decedent's funds are taken by a court-appointed estate fiduciary after probate proceedings begin; and (2) the district court properly assessed the double penalty against the executor under the plain language of the statute. View "In re Estate of Taylor" on Justia Law

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In this case about the enforceability about a mortgage clause the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the district court dismissing this action, holding that any language in the mortgage agreement between the mortgagor and mortgagee that would give the mortgagee the ability to take possession of the property was unenforceable in light of the Supreme Court's historical interpretation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 58-2301.The mortgage clause at issue granted to the mortgagee/lender the right to immediate and exclusive possession of the mortgaged property upon the event of the mortgagor/borrower's default. In reliance on the clause the mortgagee took possession of the property and filed a foreclosure action. The district court granted judgment in favor of the mortgagee. The mortgagor filed suit, asserting that, before the court order authorized the mortgagee's possession of the property, the mortgagee's possession was wrongful. The district court dismissed the action on the basis of the mortgage remedies provision and the mortgagor's default. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of executory agreements was unsupported by Kansas law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no support in state law for the mortgagee's reliance on the provisions of the executory agreements. View "Fairfax Portfolio LLC v. Carojoto LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the lower courts determining that a condominium owner's consent was not required before a proposed grocery store could be constructed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment.In 1997, the owner of two adjacent properties (the Borders Parcel and the Development Parcel) in Lawrence executed and recorded an Operation and Easement Agreement (OEA) that restricted the building footprints and prohibited either property from being occupied or used for the sale of groceries. Ownership for the two parcels was subsequently split between two entities. In 2010, a condominium was built on the Development Parcel, and Brian Russell bought a unit in the building. In the instant dispute, the owner of the Borders Parcel sought to construct a building that would exceed the OEA's footprint restriction and contain a grocery store. Russell brought this action claiming that the OEA could not be amended without condominium owner consent. The district court granted summary judgment for the parcel owners. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the OEA's language gave the property owners authority to amend the OEA without Russell's consent; and (2) the property owners could amend the OEA to allow for the proposed changes to the Borders Parcel. View "Russell v. Treanor Investments LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court determining that Appellant's claim for attorney fees and expenses should be decided by the court and not a jury, holding that Section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights does not guarantee the right to a jury trial to determine an award of attorney fees and expenses.The two cases leading to the attorney fee dispute arose of the sale of real property to Appellant. The first lawsuit was filed in 2013, and the second lawsuit was filed in 2015. After the case was decided, the district court denied Appellant's request for a jury trial on the issue of attorney fees and expenses, determining that the issue would be heard by the court and not by a jury. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Kansas Constitution does not guarantee the right to a jury trial to determine whether attorney fees and expenses should be award; (2) Appellant waived her request for a jury trial to determine attorney fees in the 2013 case; and (3) Appellant's claim for attorney fees under the third-party litigation exception to the American rule is an equitable claim that should be decided by the court rather than a jury. View "Harder v. Estate of Foster " on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying GFTLenexa, LLC relief in an action based on contractual relationships but brought as an inverse condemnation proceeding, holding that there was no error in the reasoning or conclusions of the district court.GFTLenexa, LLC alleged in this action that a condemnation through an eminent domain action resulted in GFTLenexa's intangible property rights being damaged. The action was predicated on its reduced rental income because of an action that it lost to its sublessee involving the condemnation. The district court denied summary judgment to GFTLenexa. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the proper venue for GFTLenexa to assert its rights was in the eminent domain proceeding, even if it could not have successfully asserted them there because it surrendered its rights through its contractual obligations. View "GFTLenexa, LLC v. City of Lenexa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the court of appeals' judgment reversing the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' claim for, inter alia, product liability, holding that the Kansas Product Liability Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-3301 et seq., does not subsume or extinguish any legally viable alternative cause of action seeking recovery for direct or consequential economic loss.After Plaintiffs built thousands of homes they installed bathroom ceiling fans constructed by Defendants. Several ceiling fans caught fire and damaged several homes. Plaintiffs removed and replaced the remaining fans and then brought this lawsuit asserting several claims, including claims for product liability. The district court concluded that the economic loss doctrine barred Plaintiffs from recovery. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the economic loss doctrine did not bar Plaintiffs from asserting a product liability claim because the property damage to the homes was not economic loss. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals properly reversed the summary judgment with respect to any property damage; and (2) because it cannot be discerned whether some or all of the claims Plaintiffs claimed as removal and replacement damages were legally recoverable in an unjust enrichment cause of action, the case must be remanded. View "Corvias Military Living, LLC v. Ventamatic, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court upholding the validity of a transfer-on-death deed that was signed by a benefiting party at the direction of the party seeking to make the transfer, holding that the district court did not err.The district court deemed the transfer-on-death deed to constitute an enforceable transfer of Roxie Moore's real property to Maureen Miles. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court considered evidence relating to the authority by which Maureen signed the deed, notwithstanding the notary's designation of signature through power of attorney; (2) the district court's determination that Maureen signed the deed as an amanuensis was supported by clear and convincing evidence; (3) the facts as found by the district court rebutted the presumption of invalidity of the deed under the clear and convincing evidence standard; and (4) Appellant failed to present even a preponderance of evidence demonstrating that Roxie lacked the capacity to make knowing and understanding conveyance. View "In re Estate of Moore" on Justia Law

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In this quiet title action involving the mineral interests in two tracts of real estate, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the grantees' successors in interest obtained ownership of minerals when twenty years expired without production on the property, holding that the common-law rule against perpetuities (the rule) should not be applicable to the circumstances of this case.The tracts at issue were conveyed by deeds in which the grantor excepted the mineral interests for a "period of 20 years or as long thereafter" as minerals may be produced. The grantor's successors in interest claimed full ownership of the mineral interest in both tracts, arguing that the future ownership of the minerals when the grantor's excepted term interest ended violated the rule, thereby voiding those conveyances ab initial and preventing them from devolving to the grantees' successors in interest. The district court concluded that the grantees' heirs obtained ownership of the minerals when twenty years expired without production on the property. The Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds, holding that the rule did not apply under these circumstances. View "Jason Oil Co. v. Littler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals that Alice King was the legal owner of minerals under a section of land that was the subject of this lawsuit (the Property) and that Luther Term Interest Holders could not establish the elements of adverse possession in this case.In 2009, Oxy USA, Inc. developed an oil and gas well on a unitized production unit of land that included the Property. While the well was not located on the Property, the owner of the minerals under the Property was entitled to receive royalties from the production. Oxy initiated this interpleader and quiet title action to determine the rightful legal owner of the minerals under the property. King owned the surface of the property and an undisputed one-half interest in the minerals. Luther Term Interest Holders, dozens of people and entities, claimed some fraction of the disputed one-half mineral interest. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Luther Term Interest Holders. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that title in the disputed minerals must be quieted in favor of King. View "Oxy USA, Inc. v. Red Wing Oil" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over a claim by former tenants for relocation benefits after the City of Topeka negotiated and acquired property where the tenants operated their businesses the Supreme Court rejected the tenants’ contention that displaced persons are owed relocation benefits under Kan. Stat. Ann. 26-518(a) any time a condemning authority acquires real property for a public project.Under section 26-518(a), when real property is acquired by a condemning authority through negotiation in advance of a condemnation action or through a condemnation action, the authority must pay recreation benefits to any person who moves from the property as a result of the acquisition. At issue was the definition of the statutory phrase “negotiation in advance of a condemnation action.” The district court held that the tenants in the instant case were not displaced persons as defined by law and that the property acquisition was not made “in advance of a condemnation action.” The court of appeals reversed in part. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding that whether a negotiation was in advance of a condemnation action is a question of fact to be established by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Nauheim v. City of Topeka" on Justia Law