Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
by
In this dispute between an out-of-state landlord and her tenant as to the duration of the parties' farm lease agreement the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in finding for the tenant and awarding damages for breach of contract. The court considered two writings as embodying the parties' agreement, one providing that the "lease period will go from January 2007 until December 2017 a ten year period" and the other stating that the land will be maintained "from January 2007 until December 2017." The district court concluded that there was an eleven-year lease. The landlord appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not lack jurisdiction over the action; (2) did not err in finding that the lease agreement was for a period of elven years; (3) did not err in finding that the agreement was not rescinded by the parties' modification in 2015 of the crops to be grown on the land; and (4) properly found that the tenant suffered $51,336.26 in damages as a result of the landlord evicting the tenant from the property a year early. View "TNT Cattle Co. v. Fife" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court determining that a tax deed obtained by Adair Holdings, LLC was void for incorrect notice and granting the counterclaim for quiet title filed by Dennis G. Johnson, the owner of record, holding that summary judgment in favor of Johnson's counterclaim was proper and that equity did not require relief to be granted to Adair Holdings. Adair Holdings' predecessor in interest attempted to provide Johnson with notice of the application for a tax deed via certified mail and then by publication. The notice, however, contained incorrect information about the timeframe in which Johnson could redeem the property. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Johnson and did not order Johnson to reimburse Adair Holdings for the delinquent taxes paid by Adair Holdings' predecessor in interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly determined as a matter of law that the tax deed issued to Adair Management was void; (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Johnson on his quiet title claim; and (3) because Adair Holdings did not raise below the issue of recovery for payment of delinquent taxes, equity did not require that relief be granted. View "Adair Holdings, LLC v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC), which reduced the county's $16.3 million valuation of commercial real estate used as an ethanol plant to $7.3 million based upon the taxpayer's appraisal, holding that there was no error appearing on the record. The original $16.3 million valuation in this case was based upon mass appraisal techniques. TERC reduced the value based upon the appraisal of the taxpayer, finding that because the appraiser performed the appraisal according to professional approved standards his appraisal report was competent evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption in favor of the Board of Equalization's determination affirming the county assessor's valuation of the property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that TERC's determination that the Board's valuation was unreasonable and arbitrary was supported by competent evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. View "Wheatland Industries v. Perkins County Board of Equalization" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court in this action alleging breach of contract, conversion, and tortious interference with a business relationship of expectation, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action in his own name. Kim Hawley, the only named plaintiff, brought this action against John Skradski alleging that he purchased a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) business from an entity affiliated with Skradski and that, after Hawley ceased operating the business, Skradski began operating the business and converted the business's assets to his use. During trial, an asset purchase agreement was received into evidence showing that the HVAC business was purchased by KNR Capital Corp. and not by Hawley individually. The district court granted Skradksi's motion for a directed verdict, finding that there was insufficient evidence of any of the three theories of recovery. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Hawley failed to prove his standing to bring this suit in his own name, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. View "Hawley v. Skradski" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants in two actions brought under Nebraska's Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 36-701 to 36-712, but reversed the court's grant of attorney fees as sanctions on the grounds that both actions were frivolous, holding that the fraudulent transfer actions lacked merit but that the district court abused its discretion in finding the actions as frivolous. The creditors here alleged that a blanket security agreement guaranteeing repayment of a loan by a wife to her husband was a fraudulent transfer under the UFTA. The district court concluded, after a trial, that there was no actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor under the UFTA and that the wife had proved good faith. The court then granted the wife attorney fees. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the award of sanctions, holding that the actions were not frivolous under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-824; and (2) affirmed the judgments of dismissal, holding that the creditors failed to identify and prove there was any "property" at issue in these cases and thus failed to prove that there was a "transfer" under the UFTA. View "Korth v. Luther" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiffs did not sustain their claim to quiet title by adverse possession to a six-foot tract of land owned by Defendants, abutting landowners, holding that Plaintiffs failed to prove the necessary elements to support a claim of adverse possession of the disputed land. After a trial, the court entered an order of dismissal, finding that Plaintiffs' actions regarding Defendants' land did not sustain a claim of quiet title by adverse possession. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding insufficient notorious use of the disputed land to sustain a claim for adverse possession. View "Siedlik v. Nissen" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering judgment according to a jury verdict determining that defendant-intervenor Lehr, Inc. was entitled to possession of two disputed motor vehicles and was entitled to damages in the amount of $95,000 as a result of Foundation One Bank's sale of one of the vehicles, holding that there was no plain error in the proceedings below. Foundation One sought replevin of two motor vehicles pledged by Jason Svoboda as collateral to secure payment of a loan. Lehr intervened, seeking possession of the vehicles. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Lehr and awarded Lehr $95,000. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Foundation One was not prejudiced by the instructions given to the jury; and (2) the district court did not err when it denied Foundation One's motions for judgment on the pleadings and for a directed verdict. View "Foundation One Bank v. Svoboda" on Justia Law

by
In this lawsuit filed by the purchasers of a home against the sellers the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court vacating an arbitration award entered in favor of Sellers and remanded with directions to confirm the arbitration award, holding that the district court erred by finding that arbitration provision in the purchase agreement was unenforceable, vacating the award, and failing to confirm the award. In this action, Purchasers alleged that several defects in the home they purchased had been concealed by Sellers. An arbitrator issued an award in favor of Sellers, finding that no credible evidence supported any of Purchasers' claims. Purchasers filed an application to vacate the arbitration award, and Sellers filed a motion seeking judicial confirmation of the award. The district court entered an order finding the arbitration void and vacating the award, holding that the arbitration provision in the purchase agreement was unenforceable under Nebraska's Uniform Arbitration Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court should have confirmed the arbitration award pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2612. View "Garlock v. 3DS Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

by
After the charge against Appellant for theft by unlawful taking was dismissed the Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting in part Appellant's motion for return of property seized from him and originally alleged to be stolen, holding that the burden of proof was not properly applied. As part of a plea agreement, the State dismissed the charge against Appellant of theft by unlawful taking. Thereafter, Appellant filed a motion for return of the property seized from him. The district court conducted an evidentiary hearing and then ordered some items of property returned to Appellant and others returned to Appellant's former employer. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court erred as a matter of law by requiring Appellant, as the proponent of the motion seeking the return of property seized from him, to prove ownership of the property seized. View "State v. Ebert" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court upholding the decision of the City of Omaha Zoning Board of Appeals denying Appellants' request for a variance from the requirements of Omaha's zoning code based on a claim of unnecessary hardship, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in upholding the Board's decision. Appellants owned a 4.66-acre parcel of land that was zoned for agricultural use. After the City of Omaha Planning Department concluded that the property was being used for activities not permitted by ordinance in an agricultural district Appellants applied for a variance requesting waiver that would allow them to deviate from zoning requirements. The Board denied Appellants' request for a variance. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that competent evidence supported the district court's findings and its conclusion that Appellants' situation did not warrant a variance under Neb. Rev. Stat. 14-411. View "Bruning v. City of Omaha Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law