Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the preliminary injunction entered by the district court enjoining Defendant from inhibiting Plaintiff's use of a disputed road over Defendant's property during the pendency of the proceedings to determine Plaintiff's rights, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that it had legal access to the disputed road and requested injunctive relief. After a hearing, the district court granted preliminary injunctive relief to Plaintiff enjoining Defendants from inhibiting Plaintiff's access to the road. Defendants appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not obviously, evidently, or unmistakably abuse its discretion by granting preliminary injunctive relief in this case. View "Flying T Ranch, LLC v. Catlin Ranch, LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Thomas Mann Post No. 81 of the American Legion, department of Montana (Legion) and denying Knudsen Family Limited Partnership's (KFLP) motion for summary judgment against the Town of Culbertson, holding that to the extent the court ostensibly expanded the scope of an easement the ruling was reversed.This action stemmed from a property dispute as to whether Legion had an easement across KFLP's ranch property to access Legion Park in Culbertson. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment in part, holding (1) to the extent the district court ostensibly expanded a 1913 written easement by granting summary judgment against KFLP on the Town's complaint, this was in error; (2) the district court did not err in ruling that Legion had an implied easement by preexisting use; and (3) the district court erred in awarding attorney fees without holding an evidentiary hearing on the reasonableness of the award. View "Thomas Mann Post v. Knudsen Family Ltd. Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to ERA Advantage Realty, Inc. and dismissing Jodie Young's complaint alleging that Advantage's brokers were negligent in failing to disclose certain issues when she was buying her home, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.In her complaint, Young alleged negligence because Advantage's brokers failed to disclose that local zoning ordinances preluded her from enclosing her yard with a fence and constructive fraud for failure to disclose a mold problem in her basement. The district court granted summary judgment to Advantage, holding that Young could not sustain her claims because she failed to submit notice of a real estate expert who could establish the standard of care applicable to real estate agents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Young's duty-based claims failed as a matter of law and that this conclusion was dispositive. View "Young v. Era Advantage Realty" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellants' motion for partial summary judgment and dismissing their inverse condemnation claim against the City of Billings, holding that the district court did not err.Appellants, who owned and resided in a home within the City limits, brought this action seeking to recover damages when 1,000 gallons of raw sewage backed up into their basement. The district court dismissed Appellants' sole claim of inverse condemnation because they did not establish that their damage was caused by the deliberate actions of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to establish that the sewer backup was a constitutional damages of their basement for public use, and thus, a condemnation. View "Wittman v. City of Billings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and dismissing a complaint alleging that DEQ violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), holding that DEQ was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.Montana Rivers, the Gallatin Wildlife Association, and Cottonwood Environmental Law Center (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought this lawsuit alleging that DEQ violated MEPA by failing to supplement a 2007 environmental impact statement (EIS) that DEQ had prepared for a proposed rulemaking by the Board of Environmental Review (Board). In 2013, the Board declined to proceed with that rulemaking by ending its notice and comment period and letting the process expire. The district court ruled that Plaintiffs had no viable MEPA cause of action because there was no longer any contemplated state action for which to supplement the EIS. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that there was no proposed state action pending that would obligate DEQ to prepare or supplement a MEPA analysis. View "Montana Rivers v. Montana Dep't of Environmental Quality" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the water court denying Robert and Carol Hurds' motion to amend the water right for a groundwater well on the grounds that the untimeliness of the motion meant the water court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the requested modification, holding that there was no error.In 2017, the Montana legislature established a June 30, 2019 deadline for exempt water rights holders to file a statement of claim. The deadline passed without the Hurds filing a statement of claim for their exempt water right. In 2021, the Hurds filed a motion to amend a statement of claim under Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-233(6). The water court concluded that it had no jurisdiction to modify a statement of claim for the Hurds because they hadn't properly filed a claim to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the water court correctly denied the Hurds' motion for lack of jurisdiction. View "In re Hurd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting a motion to approve a settlement agreement reached in mediation involving siblings Lily Smith and Sam, Dan, and Vernon Lindemulder, holding that Petitioners were not entitled to relief on their claims of error.The agreement at issue resolved claims involving the Alice M. Lindemulder Trust, established by the parties' mother, which held more than 2,000 acres of land in Stillwater County. Sam appealed the district court's decision to approve the settlement agreement, arguing that the agreement was unenforceable because he lacked the capacity to enter it and had been subjected to undue influence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Sam validly consented to the agreement; and (2) did not err in holding that the agreement was valid and enforceable. View "Smith v. Lindemulder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to J&L Lands, LP and awarding J&L a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Jerry Nezat's homestead property, holding that the homestead exemption statutes disposed of this matter.J&L filed this action against Nezat to foreclose a judgment lien on the property at issue but agreed to lift its lien to allow Nezat to sell the property. After Nezat sold the property the district court granted summary judgment to J&L and awarded J&L up to twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the sale of the home despite Nezat's homestead declaration on the property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in satisfying J&L's judgment lien before Nezat received the full value of the homestead exemption from the proceeds of the sale. View "J&L Lands, LP v. Nezat" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Lewis and Clark County (County) and Bridge Creek Estates Homeowners Association (HOA) on the County's claim for declaratory judgment and on Philip Wirth's counterclaim against the County, holding that the district court erred in part.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) erred in its interpretation of the covenants by concluding that Wirth was unambiguously prevented from further subdividing the lots retained by him within the subject subdivision, in failing to consider extrinsic evidence, and by resolving the issue at summary judgment; (2) erred by granting summary judgment to the County and dismissing Wirth's counterclaim for statutory damages; (3) did not err in granting summary judgment to the HOA; and (4) prematurely granted attorney fees to the HOA. View "Wirth v. Lewis & Clark County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the final count of Plaintiff's complaint after granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff's declaratory judgment and issuing a permanent injunction against Defendants, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a declaration that Defendants had materially breached an agreement regarding a shared water well and requesting injunctive relief barring Defendants from interfering with Plaintiff's use of the well. The district court granted a permanent injunction and declaratory relief and then dismissed Plaintiff's breach of contract claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly granted summary judgment to Plaintiff based on the language the agreement limiting water usage; (2) did not abuse its discretion in granting injunctive relief; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants' motion for leave to amend. View "Estate of Mandich v. French" on Justia Law