Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Blayne Puklich and Elyse Puklich were the children of Stan Puklich, who owned and operated an automobile dealership before his death. The dispute arose from the parties’ ownership of various business interests they either purchased or received from their father. Puklich Chevrolet, Inc. (PCI) owned the automobile dealership. B&E Holdings owned the real estate where the dealership was located. Blayne and Elyse each owned interests in these entities, and Elyse had assumed management responsibilities for both. Blayne appealed, individually and derivatively on behalf of B&E Holdings, LLP, a judgment dismissing his breach of fiduciary duty claim against Elyse and END L.L.L.P. Elyse cross appealed, arguing the district court erred when it denied her motion for N.D.R.Civ.P. 11 sanctions. The court held Blayne’s claim, which alleged Elyse breached fiduciary duties by usurping a real estate opportunity, was res judicata but not frivolous. Finding no reversible error as to either claim, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Puklich v. Puklich, et al." on Justia Law

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Northwest Landowners Association filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of North Dakota Senate Bill 2344, which related to subsurface pore space. The district court granted the Association’s cross-motion for summary judgment, concluding S.B. 2344 was unconstitutional under the state and federal takings clauses. The State and Continental Resources appealed the district court’s summary judgment order and amended judgment. On appeal, the State argued S.B. 2344 did not violate the takings clauses and did not constitute an unconstitutional gift, and that the district court misapplied N.D.R. Civ.P. 56 by failing to consider evidence submitted by the State. Continental Resources argued the court erred in analyzing the Association’s facial challenge, in determining pore space had value as a matter of law, and in denying Rule 56(f) discovery. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in invalidating the entirety of S.B. 2344. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed to the extent that it declared certain portions unconstitutional, but reversed to the extent it declared the remainder of the bill inseparable and invalid. View "Northwest Landowners Association v. State, et al." on Justia Law

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Elton Lovro appealed a judgment dismissing his complaint with prejudice after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Finley (“City”). Lovro owned a house and property in Finley, Steele County, North Dakota. In March 2020, the City’s water line connected to the curb stop leading to Lovro’s home broke. Water flowed onto the property, damaging Lovro’s driveway and basement. Lovro sued the City for negligence and gross negligence, alleging the damages were caused by the City’s failure to properly operate, maintain, repair, and inspect their water system. Lovro also sued the City for breach of contract based on the City’s failure to properly and safely deliver water to his home. The City responded by denying the allegations that it was negligent, grossly negligent or that its acts or omissions caused the damages. The City denied the existence of any contractual relationship between Lovro and the City. The City affirmatively alleged that it was immune from suit under chapter 32-12.1 of the North Dakota Century Code. Lovro argues the district court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing his claims because the ruling was premature and discovery was still ongoing. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Lovro v. City of Finley" on Justia Law

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Blue Appaloosa, Inc., appealed a judgment affirming an Industrial Commission order determining it violated N.D. Admin. Code ch. 43-02-03 by beginning construction of a treating plant prior to obtaining a permit or filing a bond with the Commission. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blue Appaloosa v. NDIC" on Justia Law

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Koch Construction, Inc.; Marilyn Koch, Personal Representative of the Estate of Michael P. Koch; and Koch Property Investments, Inc. (collectively “appellants”) appealed the judgment and amended judgment entered in favor of Toman Engineering Company (“Toman”). Michael Koch owned and operated Koch Construction and Koch Property Investments (“KPI”). Toman provided engineering services to Koch Construction on various projects, including designing a stormwater management system for the Koch Meadow Hills residential development project in Dickinson, North Dakota. Michael died in August 2017. The stormwater management system included a detention pond referred to as the Marilyn Way Stormwater Pond, which was the detention pond at issue in this case. In 2016, Janet Prchal, Dean Kubas, and Geraldine Kubas, owners of property near the Koch Meadow Hills development, sued the City of Dickinson and KPI for damages, alleging the development of Koch Meadow Hills caused water to drain and collect on their properties. The Prchal lawsuit was settled in September 2018, and the settlement required modifications to be made to the Marilyn Way Stormwater Pond before June 30, 2019. The reconstruction work on the detention pond occurred during the summer and fall of 2019. Toman served a summons and complaint on Koch Construction and Marilyn Koch, to collect unpaid amounts for engineering services Toman provided to the defendants in 2017. Toman filed the complaint in the district court in June 2019. The appellants argued the district court erred in deciding they committed intentional spoliation of evidence and dismissing their counterclaim as a sanction. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed the appellants’ counterclaim as a sanction for spoliation of evidence. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Toman Engineering Co. v. Koch Construction, et al." on Justia Law

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Mark McAllister appealed an amended judgment of condemnation that ultimately allowed the City of West Fargo to use its eminent domain power to acquire a right of way across his property. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in holding West Fargo was authorized to use quick-take eminent domain procedures for its sewage improvement project. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting West Fargo’s motion in limine to exclude testimony from trial that the taking impacted McAllister’s property’s conformance with the city’s setback requirements. View "City of West Fargo v. McAllister" on Justia Law

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Brenda and Gene Sauvageau petitioned the North Dakota Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and issue a writ of supervision directing the district court to stop the Cass County Joint Water Resource District from using quick take eminent domain to acquire their property. The Sauvageaus claimed the District was prohibited from using quick take eminent domain to acquire a permanent right of way easement over their entire property. The Supreme Court concluded the quick take process was not available because the District is taking more than a right of way in the Sauvageaus’ property. The Court granted the Sauvageaus’ petition, directed the district court to vacate its order denying the Sauvageaus’ motion to dismiss the District’s complaint and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sauvageau, et al. v. Bailey, et al." on Justia Law

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Lisa Poitra appealed an order of eviction, arguing the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter the eviction order because the Trenton Indian Housing Authority (“TIHA”) constituted a dependent Indian community, and a contract provision required the eviction to be handled by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Court. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the record supported the district court’s finding that TIHA was not a dependent Indian community, the court’s determination that it had subject matter jurisdiction, and the finding TIHA did not have a contractual obligation to bring the eviction action in the tribal court. View "Trenton Indian Housing Authority v. Poitra, et al." on Justia Law

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Hudye Group LP (“Hudye”) appealed a district court judgment affirming the Ward County Board of Commissioners’ decision to deny Hudye’s applications for abatement or refund of taxes as untimely. Hudye filed applications for abatement or refund of taxes relating to 85 acres of property that had been divided into 92 parcels which were located in Ward County, North Dakota. Hudye argued the failure to consider abatement requests received by the City Assessor’s Office on the first business day following the November first deadline resulted in an unjust outcome. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hudye Group v. Ward Cty. Bd. of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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James Behrens appealed orders granting a petition for appraisal of a homestead, directing the sale of the homestead, and confirming the sale. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court misapplied the law in granting the petition for an appraisal. Therefore, the Court reversed the orders and remanded for further proceedings. View "Malloy, et al. v. Behrens" on Justia Law