Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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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

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Tim Lilley leased pastureland adjacent to Mark and Janis Evanson's property. Lilley started a fire on the pastureland that spread to the Evensons' property, destroying the outbuildings on the property and around 200 trees. Lilley stipulated that he was at fault for the fire and the resulting damage. The district court held that the measure of damages was the difference in the fair market value of the property before and after the fire. The court awarded damages in the amount of $4,687 for the loss in value of the property. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court and court of appeals incorrectly attempted to superimpose principles of temporary and permanent damages on the facts of this case; but (2) the lower courts' conclusions were nonetheless correct, and the district court did not err in relying on a diminished-value calculation of property loss. View "Evenson v. Lilley" on Justia Law

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Marvin Hansford was named and served as a defendant in a real property partition action. Although he did not respond to the partition petition and failed to claim that he was the sole owner of any of the legally described property, he later sought to establish a claim to a portion of the partitioned land against its purchaser. The district court granted the purchaser's motion for summary judgment, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lower courts did not err in granting summary judgment to the purchaser, holding that the failure of a party to take a direct appeal challenging the description of the property in a partition action precludes that party from making a collateral attack on the partition orders. View "Hansford v. Silver Lake Heights, LLC" on Justia Law