Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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In 2011, Johnson County appraised the value of Kristin Wagner’s property at $569,000. Wagner filed a protest form with the Court of Tax Appeals (COTA), which determined that the appraised value for tax year 2011 should be reduced to $553,600. Wagner appealed. While the 2011 appeal was pending, the County appraised Wagner’s property for the 2012 tax year at $537,000. Wagner challenged the 2012 appraisal. On remand, with regard to the 2011 tax appeal, COTA established the the value of Wagner’s home at $494,200. COTA then established the value of Wagner’s property for the 2012 tax year at $494,200 - the same amount as the property’s 2011 final appraised value. Wagner filed a petition for judicial review. The court of appeals affirmed COTA’s decision, ruling that COTA properly used the 2011 valuation to determine the home’s value for the 2012 tax year. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that COTA ignored evidence in the record establishing that Wagner’s home suffered a 2.94 percent decrease in value between 2011 and 2012. Remanded with directions that Wagner’s home be valued at $479,600 for the 2012 tax year. View "In re Equalization Appeal of Wagner" on Justia Law

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Carol Einsel filed a petition for partition against Rodney Einsel, her ex-husband. The ownership interests at stake involved the Einsel family ranch, which consisted mostly of land and mineral interests. Carol’s claim derived from a journal entry of divorce in the parties’ earlier divorce proceedings. The judge had awarded Carol forty percent of Rodney’s remainder interest in the inheritance he received during the marriage. Before the partition court, the parties primarily argued over whether Carol’s award was an interest in a money judgment or an interest in real property. The partition court found that Carol’s interest in Rodney’s inheritance was $27,521 and granted her a judgment in this amount. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the award was an interest in real property - not a money judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals reached the correct conclusion regarding the nature of Carol’s award - an interest in real property. Remanded. View "In re Estate of Einsel" on Justia Law

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At dispute in this case was the statewide directive issued by David Harper, the Director of Property Valuation, to county appraisers requiring compliance with Kan. Stat. Ann. 79-1460. Under the statute, when a property owner successfully appeals a property valuation, the valuation may not be increased during the next two years unless certain conditions are met. In general, all other taxable real property is reappraised at fair market value annually. Petitioners, twenty-one boards of county commissioners, filed this original action in mandamus to challenge the constitutionality of section 79-1460 and Harper’s directive. The Supreme Court granted the writ of mandamus, holding (1) the statute is unconstitutional to the extent it prevents appraisers from valuing real property at its fair market value in any tax year; and (2) the constitutionally offending provisions are severable from the remainder of the statute. View "Bd. of Johnson County Comm'rs v. Jordan" on Justia Law

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After the Unified School District No. 365 initiated condemnation proceedings on property owned by Donald and Susan Diebolt, the trial judge appointed three appraisers, who valued the property at $278,800. During the trial, the trial court allowed Donald to express a valuation opinion as to the property but excluded Donald’s testimony regarding the value of the property that was not relevant to the jury’s determination and that was beyond Donald’s expertise. The Diebolts appealed the trial court’s exclusion of the testimony. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse his discretion in excluding the evidence, where Donald was not qualified to perform a cost appraisal and did not have appraisal expertise. View "Unified Sch. Dist. No. 365 v. Diebolt" on Justia Law

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Thoroughbred Associates drilled a gas well (Well) in Comanche County. Thoroughbred subsequently acquired leases of land near the Well and created a unit called the Thoroughbred-Rietzke Unit (Rietzke Unit). Defendants became successors-in-interest to a lease (OXY Lease) Thoroughbred entered into for oil and gas underlying a tract near the Well. The parties disagreed, however, about whether the Well was draining the Rietzke Unit. Thoroughbred stopped submitting royalty payments to Defendants accruing from the Rietzke Unit. Thoroughbred subsequently filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment that it had been mistaken when it included the OXY Lease in the Rietzke Unit. Defendants counterclaimed. The district court concluded (1) Defendants failed to prove that any drainage of the leased lands occurred; and (2) the Lease was properly included in the Rietzke Unit. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Defendants failed to prove their drainage claim; and (2) the court of appeals erroneously granted summary judgment to Defendants on their claim that the Lease should be included in the Rietzke Unit. View "Thoroughbred Assocs., LLC v. Kansas City Royalty Co., LLC " on Justia Law

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Seller and his real estate agent (Agent) entered into an agency agreement requiring Agent to inform potential buyers of material defects in Seller's home of which she had actual knowledge. Seller completed a signed a seller's disclosure form. After Buyers purchased the home, Buyers filed this lawsuit against Seller, Agent, and Agent's brokerage firm (Firm), alleging, inter alia, fraud, negligent misrepresentation for providing false representations in the disclosure form, breach of contract, and violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The court of appeals reversed the district court's summary judgment in favor of Seller and affirmed summary judgment in favor of Agent and Firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment to Seller on Buyers' fraudulent inducement, fraud by silence, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract claims; and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to Agent and Firm for Buyers' negligent misrepresentation and KCPA claims. Remanded. View "Stechschulte v. Jennings" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose over the administration of a Trust between Lawrence, the Trust's beneficiary, and the Trust's trustees, Dennis and Leona (collectively, Trustees). Lawrence moved to set aside a contract for deed executed between Dennis and his wife and the Trustees for the sale of farmland owned by the Trust and also sought to remove the Trustees, alleging they engaged in self-dealing and breached their fiduciary duties. The district court concluded (1) the Trust permitted the Trustees to finance the sale of the farmland to Dennis under the terms set forth in the contract for deed; and (2) Lawrence violated the Trust's no-contest clause by challenging the Trustee's sale of the farmland to Dennis, which required Lawrence's disinheritance. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's ruling regarding the Trustees' authority to finance the sale of the farm and its enforcement of the no-contest clause against Lawrence, holding (1) the Trustees' execution of the contract for deed violated the terms of the Trust; and (2) Lawrence had probable cause to challenge the Trustees' sale of the farm to Dennis. Remanded. View "Hamel v. Hamel" on Justia Law

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Defendant Ritchie Corporation conveyed title to a tract of land a waste systems corporation (BFI). Ritchie and BFI entered into an escrow agreement that entitled BFI to operate the property as a nonhazardous waste transfer station for thirty-five years. Ritchie granted BFI a right of first refusal to buy the transfer station from Ritchie. BFI later assigned its title and interest in the escrow agreement to Plaintiff Waste Connections, which began operating the transfer station. Later, a third party agreed to buy the transfer station and an adjoining landfill. Waste Connections asserted its right of first refusal to purchase the transfer station. Waste Connections and Ritchie subsequently disputed the proper price owed under the escrow agreement - $1.45 million or $2 million. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Ritchie. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because genuine issues of material fact remained on Waste Connections' breach of contract action against Ritchie, summary judgment for either party was inappropriate. View "Waste Connections of Kan., Inc. v. Ritchie Corp." on Justia Law

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This eminent domain proceeding involved City's condemnation of a tract of land owned by Landowner. Company leased from Landowner approximately 500 square feet of the property for operation of a billboard. The tract was valued at $1,075,600 with no compensation given for the billboard structure and no consideration as to the advertising income produced by Company's leasehold. City and Landowner accepted the appraisers' award, but Company appealed. The district court granted City's motion for summary judgment and affirmed the appraisers' award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for City, as (1) evidence of advertising income generated by the billboard was irrelevant to the value of the property under any authorized valuation approach; and (2) Company did not come forward with relevant and admissible evidence that could alter the appraisers' valuation of the land at issue. View "City of Wichita v. Denton" on Justia Law

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This was a quiet title action challenging a claimed interest to oil and gas rights reserved in 1924 when the landowners sold the surface and mineral estate but kept for themselves and their heirs what was described as a portion of the landowners' one-eighth interest in the oil, gas, or other minerals that might later be developed. The district court and court of appeals held that this reservation was a royalty interest and invalidated it under the rule against perpetuities. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the royalty interest was not void under the rule against perpetuities because it was reserved in the grantors. View "Rucker v. DeLay" on Justia Law