Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Craig Hauer appealed the dismissal of complaint seeking reformation of a deed to secure hunting access to property he had conveyed to Kurt and Lois Zerr. In 2013, Hauer sold land to the Zerrs. The parties’ contract and deed both include language reflecting the parties’ intent to allow Hauer to reserve hunting access to the land. Hauer accessed the land to hunt pursuant to the reservation until the Zerrs, believing the reservation to be unenforceable pursuant to N.D.C.C. 47- 05-17, denied Hauer access to the property. Hauer initiated this action seeking to reform the deed to reflect the parties’ intent to allow Hauer access to the property. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court correctly dismissed Hauer’s complaint seeking reformation of the deed and affirmed the district court. View "Hauer v. Zerr, et al." on Justia Law

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Linus and Raymond Poitra appeal the district court judgment of eviction. The Poitras argue the district court erred by exercising jurisdiction over this matter, and by sending a North Dakota law enforcement officer onto the reservation to evict tribal members from property within the Turtle Mountain Reservation. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the Poitras did not meet their burden under either "Montana" exception, and did not explain how a district court was divested of subject matter jurisdiction to grant a judgment of eviction. The district court judgment was therefore affirmed. View "Gustafson v. Poitra, et al." on Justia Law

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Michael and Bonita McDougall appealed a judgment dismissing their deceit and unjust enrichment claims against AgCountry Farm Credit Services, PCA and granting summary judgment in favor of AgCountry on its claims to enforce assignment of rents and to foreclose a mortgage. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred by concluding the McDougalls’ deceit claim was precluded by the statute of frauds. Therefore the Court reversef the judgment as to the deceit and unjust enrichment claims, affirmed judgment on the remaining claims, and remanded. View "McDougall, et al. v. AgCountry Farm Credit Services, PCA, et al." on Justia Law

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Larry Alber appealed a district court order denying his motion for injunctive relief against the City of Marion. Alber also appealed an order denying his motion for reconsideration. In 2003, the City sued Alber, alleging certain abandoned vehicles on Alber’s property violated a City ordinance and were a public nuisance. The district court entered a judgment against Alber finding the vehicles on Alber’s property were a public nuisance. The judgment required Alber to remove or lawfully maintain the vehicles. In 2013, the district court found Alber in contempt for violating the 2003 judgment’s requirement that he maintain the vehicles or remove them from his property. The court ordered Alber to remove all nuisance vehicles from his property. The court also ordered that any vehicles not removed by Alber could be removed by the City. In December 2016, Alber moved for injunctive relief, requesting a temporary restraining order prohibiting the City from entering his property to remove nuisance vehicles. As it related to the denial of his motion for injunctive relief, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined Alber’s brief failed to demonstrate that any of the injunctive relief factors weighed in his favor: he did not show a substantial probability of succeeding on the merits, proof of irreparable injury, harm to other interested parties, and how the public interest would be benefited by the granting of injunctive relief. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court. View "North Dakota ex rel. City of Marion v. Alber" on Justia Law

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Karen Wieland appeals from a judgment allowing the city of Fargo to take her property for flood mitigation purposes and awarding her $939,044.32 in just compensation, attorney fees, costs, and statutory expenses. Because the district court did not misapply the law in concluding the taking of Wieland’s property was necessary for a public use, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirm the judgment. View "City of Fargo v. Wieland" on Justia Law

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Anton Jacob Fettig appealed two district court judgments quieting title to real property in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Anton owned three parcels of real property. In 2001, Anton L. Fetting (Anton) executed a warranty deed conveying sections 5, 17, and 22 to his two minor children, A.J.F. and S.F.F. Anton recorded the deed the same day. At the time of the conveyance, A.J.F. and S.F.F. were approximately three and five years of age. In 2004, Anton received an email from an attorney with the United States Department of Agriculture, stating that the Department considered the 2001 deed void, and that Anton still owned the land. As a result of this email, and in an attempt to clear title to the land, Anton executed a warranty deed in 2004, conveying the land back to himself. The deed named Anton as both the grantor and grantee. The deed was recorded the same day. The next year, Anton executed quitclaim deeds conveying parcels 5, 17 and 22 to his sons Charles, Howard and Morgen, respectively. These deeds were recorded in 2006. In January 2016, Charles Fettig filed suit seeking to quiet title to section 5. Because the district court ruled for Charles, Howard and Morgen filed separate suits seeking to quiet title to the sections previously conveyed to them. The district court concluded that the 2001 deed conveying the land to A.J.F. and S.F.F. was void under N.D.C.C. sections 9-02-02 and 14-10-10, that Howard was the true and correct owner of section 17, and that Morgen was the true and correct owner of section 22. A.J.F. timely appealed the district court’s orders. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in determining that the deed conveying the property was void, but that the issue was barred by collateral estoppel. Therefore, judgment was affirmed. View "Fettig v. Fettig, et al." on Justia Law

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Curtis and Lesley Trulson appealed a judgment quieting title to a mineral royalty interest in John (“Tony”) and Jean Meiers. The district court ruled a royalty deed from the Meiers was not delivered and did not convey a royalty interest to the Trulsons. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court misapplied the law because the Meiers failed to rebut the presumption that the deed was delivered to the Trulsons. View "Trulson, et al. v. Meiers, et al." on Justia Law

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Jon Tonneson and Mary Issendorf, in her personal capacity and as personal representative of the estate of Vesper Shirley, (“defendants”) appealed a judgment quieting title to certain property in Teresa Larson, Janet Schelling, and Lynette Helgeson (“plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs and defendants were successors in interest to certain property at Lake Metigoshe in Bottineau County, North Dakota. The parties acquired their respective properties through their families beginning in the 1950s. In 2012, plaintiffs became aware of property boundary issues after a survey was conducted when plaintiffs were attempting to replace a mobile home on the property. At that time, plaintiffs also discovered a platted roadway ran through their property, though no such roadway existed on the property. Plaintiffs thereafter took steps to vacate the road. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not clearly err in finding Larson, Schelling, and Helgeson acquired the disputed property by adverse possession. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment, but remanded the case for entry of a corrected judgment. View "Larson, et al. v. Tonneson, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2011, Plaintiffs Rhonda Pennington, Steven Nelson, Donald Nelson, and Charlene Bjornson executed oil and gas leases for property in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Each lease term was three years with a lessee option to extend for an additional year. The leases were assigned to Continental Resources in September 2014, and it exercised an extension option. The leases included a provision that the leases would not terminate if drilling operations were delayed by an inability to obtain permits. In May 2012, Continental applied for a drilling permit on a 2,560-acre spacing unit that included the lands covered by the leases. The 2,560 acres included lands inhabited by the Dakota Skipper butterfly, which was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Continental could not begin drilling operations until receiving federal approval. In August 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological opinion relating to the impact of Continental’s proposed drilling on the Dakota Skipper. On October 1, 2015, Continental proposed measures to minimize the impact of its operations on the Dakota Skipper. On October 21, 2015, Continental recorded an affidavit of regulation and delay, stating it had not yet obtained federal regulatory approval to drill, and the primary term of the leases was extended under the “regulation and delay” paragraph of the leases. The following day, Continental applied to terminate the 2,560-acre spacing unit and create a 1,920-acre spacing unit to remove the Dakota Skipper habitat. In November 2015, the Industrial Commission approved the 1,920-acre spacing unit. In January 2016, the commission pooled all of the oil and gas interests in the 1,920-acre spacing unit for the development and operation of the spacing unit. Following the January 2016 order, Continental began drilling operations. In August 2017, the Plaintiffs sued Continental, alleging the leases expired on October 25, 2015, and Continental’s delay in obtaining regulatory approval to drill did not extend the leases. Plaintiffs appealed a district court ruling the “regulation and delay” provision in their oil and gas leases with Continental Resources extended the term of the leases. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court concluded the delay in obtaining drilling permits for the 2,560-acre spacing unit was beyond Continental’s control and was not because of Continental’s fault or negligence. However, the court did not address whether Continental acted diligently and in good faith in pursuing a permit to drill the 2,560-acre spacing unit for more than three years. Viewing the evidence and inferences to be drawn from the evidence in a light favorable to the Plaintiffs, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Continental acted diligently and in good faith. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings on that issue. View "Pennington, et al. v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law

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Andrea and Kevin Martin appealed a district court judgment ordering the removal of a fence on their property after finding the fence violated restrictive covenants recorded against the property. The Martins argued the restrictive covenants did not apply to their property because they agreed to purchase the property before the covenants went into effect. They also claimed the restrictive covenants were unconscionable. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wachter Development, Inc. v. Martin, et al." on Justia Law