Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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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

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At issue was a real estate contract containing a “first right of refusal” applicable to a separate land tract. Appellant sought specific performance and title to a smaller parcel that was sold after he failed to respond to an earlier offer to sell the entire tract subject to the real estate contract. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. A Court of Appeals panel reversed. Defendants petitioned for review solely on the panel’s contractual compliance analysis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the panel both misread the contract and improperly inserted terms inconsistent with the plain language under consideration; but (2) the first right of refusal was fulfilled after Appellant failed to respond to the offer to sell him the full tract subject to the contract. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings where there remained an unresolved claim as to whether the parties discharged their implied duty of good faith and fair dealing when the offer was presented, and the answer to this question will determine whether the first right of refusal provision lapsed when Appellant failed to respond. View "Trear v. Chamberlain" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that when a railroad quitclaimed its interest in a strip of land to the company from which Sharron Jenkins acquired her interest, the railroad deeded land it was not legally capable of deeding. Jenkins sued to quiet title to real property through which a now-abandoned railway previously ran. The property at dispute was described in an 1886 deed conveying those lots to a railroad company as part of a strip of land running through the grantors’ property along the planned railroad’s centerline. When the railroad abandoned the railway, it quitclaimed its interest in the strip to a company that later quitclaimed its own interest to Jenkins. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment judgment, holding that the language in the 1886 deed demonstrated that the land was conveyed to the railroad for use as a right of way, and therefore, the railroad acquired only an easement, which reverted to the landowners when the railroad abandoned the right of way. Thus, the entity that deeded the lots to Jenkins based on a conveyance from the railroad had no estate to transfer to her. View "Jenkins v. Chicago Pacific Corp." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a mortgage foreclosure petition filed by FV-I, Inc. The dispute in this case was between FV-I and Bank of the Prairie (BOP), a bank with junior mortgages on the same property. The parties agreed to sell the property and place the proceeds in escrow pending resolution of this case. Summary judgment was initially granted in favor of BOP. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a trial to determine whether FV-I had possession of the promissory note underlying the mortgage at the time it filed the mortgage foreclosure. After a trial, the district court concluded that FV-I lacked standing to file the petition because it did not have possession of the original note prior to filing its petition and that BOP’s mortgages were superior to FV-I’s mortgage. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that evidentiary rulings excluding endorsements on the promissory note require a remand for a rehearing regarding standing and the panel’s priority determination. Remanded. View "FV-I, Inc. v. Kallevig" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the City of Mission passed a Transportation User Fee (TUF), which is assessed on all developed real property based on a formula that estimates the number of vehicle “trips” a particular property generates. The revenue raised by the TUF is used for the maintenance and upkeep of the City’s streets. Plaintiffs challenged the TUF as an impermissible excise tax levied by the City in violation of Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-194. The district court granted summary judgment to Mission. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the TUF is an impermissible excise tax. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mission is prohibited from levying the TUF because the City’s TUF is an excise tax that does not meet any of the exceptions in section 12-194. View "Heartland Apartment Ass'n v. City of Mission" on Justia Law

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Adam Pener was the trustee and personal representative of a trust and estate that owned property condemned by the Kansas Department of Transportation for a highway improvement project. The district court found the damages from the taking were $295,702. Defendant appealed, arguing (1) the district court gave insufficient weight to the replacement value for a fence and to a comparable sale when it calculated the property’s value, and (2) the district court should have awarded him attorney fees and expenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the compensation award was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the district court did not err in denying attorney fees and expenses. View "Pener v. King" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an eminent domain proceedings in Douglas County. The Secretary of Transportation condemned a property in Lawrence owned by Doug Garber Construction, Inc. (Garber) to facilitate construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT). Garber disputed the amount of compensation, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury determined that the value of the property was $112,000. Garber appealed, arguing that the district court erred by issuing two orders in limine that excluded certain valuation testimony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony at issue. View "Doug Garber Construction, Inc. v. King" on Justia Law

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Water District No. 1 (WaterOne) of Johnson County filed an eminent domain petition seeking to condemn ten tracts of land. WaterOne pleaded that its interests would be “‘[s]ubject to existing easements of record.’” The district court granted the petition. D.P. and Wanda Bonham and their trust (collectively, the Bonhams) owned an easement in one of the ten condemned tracts. The Bonhams appealed the condemnation award and moved to void the district court’s order, asserting that WaterOne took their easement without complying with the Eminent Domain Procedure Act (EDPA) as to their easement. The district court denied the Bonhams’ motion to void, concluding that WaterOne did not condemn the Bonhams’ easement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly determined that WaterOne’s petition contained no statutory defects; and (2) the Bonhams failed to establish an error in the journal entry. View "Water Dist. No. 1 of Johnson County v. Prairie Ctr. Dev., LLC" on Justia Law