Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree dissolving Appellant's marriage to Appellee, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining the valuation dates for the marital assets and in classifying, valuing, and dividing the marital estate. On appeal, Appellant challenged the division of property, asserting that all assets must be valued using a single date and that a coverture formula was required to establish the premarital value of a business. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) using a single date to value all assets would imagine upon the discretion necessary to equitably divide a marital estate, and therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in valuing marital assets on dates that rationally related to the property being divided; and (2) the coverture formula depends upon speculation and assumptions generally inconsistent with such valuations, and therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to apply that method. View "Rohde v. Rohde" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order granting a mortgage company's motion for summary judgment, holding that a subordination clause in a land contract for the purchase of a residence effectively subordinated the rights of the purchasers to the rights held by later assignees of the note and deed of trust. The purchasers of the property entered into the land contract with a seller-trust. After the purchasers took possession, the seller-trust signed a promissory note and a deed of trust to a bank for a certain amount of money in order to pay a previously existing mortgage on the property. The note and deed of trust were eventually assigned to the mortgage company. When the seller-trust defaulted on its loan, the purchasers filed suit to enjoin a trustee sale of the property, asserting that his claim to the property was superior to that of the mortgage company. The district court granted summary judgment for the mortgage company. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the subordination clause meant that the rights of any existing lenders of the seller-trust would take precedence over the purchasers' rights or interest in the property until the purchasers have paid the contract price in full. View "Wintroub v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the declaratory and injunction entered by the district court enjoining the City of Arapahoe, Nebraska from enforcing an ordinance against Brooke Wilkison to prohibit his retention of a pit bull at his home within the city limits, holding that Brooke failed to show that allowing him to retain the dog in his home was necessary. The district court's order determined that the city ordinance, if enforced against Brooke, would violate the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 to 3619, by permitting a discriminatory housing practice and precluding Brooke from mitigating the ill effects of his handicap by living with his emotional assistance animal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not err in holding that the FHA applies to the ordinance enacted by the city; but (2) Brooke failed to prove that an accommodation from the city's ban on certain breeds of dogs was essential to his equal enjoyment of his property. View "Wilkison v. City of Arapahoe" on Justia Law