Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
Berger, et al. v. Sellers, et al.
Darren and Tamara Berger (“Bergers”) appealed a judgment dismissing their claims of violation of a planned unit development (PUD), breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, private nuisance, and negligence against their neighbors Jason and Krysta Sellers (“Sellers”), Sellers’ homebuilder Jordan Anderson and Big River Builders, Inc. (together, “Builder”), and the Misty Waters Owners’ Association (“Association”). Sellers and Builder cross-appealed the judgment dismissing their claims of defamation, interference with contract and business, and negligence against Bergers and neighbor Jeff Carlson. The central issue in this case was whether the PUD minimum setback from the bay could be changed by obtaining a new Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) without an amendment to the PUD. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the PUD unambiguously set the minimum setback from the bay as the contour line in the 2005 LOMR-F and therefore Sellers’ home violated the PUD. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against Sellers for violation of the PUD, breach of restrictive covenants, negligence (drainage), and private nuisance (setbacks). The Court remanded with instructions to grant Bergers partial summary judgment on their claims against Sellers for violation of the PUD and breach of restrictive covenants and for declaratory relief (against Sellers) as requested in their motion for partial summary judgment. The Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against the Association for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The Court affirmed the court’s grant of summary judgment on all of Bergers’ claims against Builder, namely the PUD violation, breach of restrictive covenants, and negligence. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against the Association for breach of restrictive covenants and private nuisance. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on all of Sellers’ and Builder’s claims. View "Berger, et al. v. Sellers, et al." on Justia Law
Zavanna v. Gadeco, et al.
Defendants GADECO, LLC, and Continental Resources, Inc. appealed a judgment quieting title in oil and gas leasehold interests in Zavanna, LLC. Zavanna and the Defendants made competing claims to oil and gas leasehold interests covering 1,280 gross acres in Williams County, North Dakota. These interests were located in the Golden Unit; the Golden Well was the only well producing oil and gas from the subject leasehold within the Golden Unit. GADECO operated the Golden Well. Zavanna was the lessee by assignment of the “Top Leases” and GADECO and Continental were the lessees of the “Bottom Leases.” The Top Leases and Bottom Leases covered the same lands and leasehold interests. The Bottom Leases automatically terminated upon cessation of production unless certain express conditions were met. The Bottom Leases stated that a cessation of production after the lease’s primary term would not terminate the lease if the lessee restores production or commences additional drilling or reworking operations within 90 days (or 120 days in the case of the Parke Energy Leases) from the date of cessation of production. After a bench trial, the district court quieted title in Zavanna, concluding the Bottom Leases terminated by their own terms when production ceased and GADECO failed to timely commence drilling or reworking operations. The court found three periods of production cessation. The court concluded Defendants bore the burden to prove that production did not cease or reworking operations were timely commenced. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not err in concluding Defendants’ leases terminated under their terms when production ceased and Defendants failed to timely commence reworking operations, and in concluding Defendants failed to show a force majeure condition saved the leases from termination. View "Zavanna v. Gadeco, et al." on Justia Law
Orwig v. Orwig
Mary Orwig appealed after a district court entered a corrected summary real estate disposition judgment, an order on plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, an order denying her motion for contempt, and an order granting Steven Orwig’s motion on redistribution of property. Steven Orwig cross-appealed the order on redistribution of property and an order denying his motion to reconsider. After careful consideration, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the corrected summary real estate disposition judgment, order on plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, and order denying the motion for contempt. The Court also affirmed the order on redistribution of property and the order denying the motion to reconsider. View "Orwig v. Orwig" on Justia Law
Henry Hill Oil Services v. Tufto, et al.
Lane Knudsen, Ann Gochnour, and Marcia Talley and David Talley, Trustees of the Marcia K. Talley Living Trust (Landowners), appeal from a district court judgment foreclosing Henry Hill Oil Services LLC’s construction liens against the Landowners’ properties and awarding Henry Hill Oil its costs and attorney’s fees. Landowners owned real property in Williams County, North Dakota. In 2017 and 2018, the Landowners executed water pipeline easements with RWS Holdings, LLC. The agreements granted RWS Holdings 75-foot-wide temporary easements for constructing a water pipeline and related facilities across and under the Landowners’ properties. The agreements granted RWS Holdings 30-foot-wide permanent pipeline easements on the properties. The temporary easements expired upon completion of the water pipelines. The Talley-Gochnour Defendants also granted RWS Holdings an easement for constructing a freshwater reservoir on their property. The easement term was 20 years or “until Grantee permanently removes” the reservoir from the property. RWS Holdings hired Regional Water Service, LLC, which then hired Henry Hill Oil, to construct water reservoirs on the properties. Henry Hill Oil worked on the Landowners’ properties from June 2018 to October 2018. Henry Hill Oil recorded construction liens against the Landowners’ properties after it was not paid for its work. In May 2019, Henry Hill Oil sued Regional Water Service for breach of contract. In October 2019, Henry Hill Oil sued the Landowners to enforce the construction liens. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in determining the Landowners’ properties were subject to Henry Hill Oil’s construction liens. The Court reversed the judgment and remanded for a determination of the Landowners’ costs and attorney’s fees. View "Henry Hill Oil Services v. Tufto, et al." on Justia Law
Boutrous, et al. v. Transform Operating Stores, et al.
Transform Operating Stores, LLC d/b/a Transformco Operating Stores LLC; Transform SR Brands LLC d/b/a Transformco d/b/a Kmart; and Transform KM LLC (collectively, “Transform”) appealed after a North Dakota district court entered an order awarding damages to Ted J. Boutrous, L.L.C. and The Boutrous Group, LLP and entered a [second] amended judgment of eviction. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err finding a material breach of the lease and in exercising jurisdiction as a summary eviction. "While the court abused its discretion in bifurcating the eviction action, that error was harmless." The Court further concluded Transform failed to timely appeal the court’s contempt order for the untimely turnover of the property. View "Boutrous, et al. v. Transform Operating Stores, et al." on Justia Law
Nevin, et al. v. Kennedy, et al.
Angus Kennedy owned real property and mineral interests in McKenzie County, North Dakota. In 1960, Angus and his wife, Lois, executed two deeds conveying the surface and “excepting and reserving unto the parties of the first part, their heirs, successors or assigns, all right, title and interest in and to any and all . . . minerals in or under the foregoing described lands.” Lois did not own an interest in the property when Angus and Lois Kennedy executed the deeds. Angus died in 1965, and Lois died in 1980. Angus and Lois did not have children together. Angus had six children from a previous marriage. Angus' heirs executed numerous mineral leases for the property. Lois had one child, Julia Nevin, who died in 1989. In 2016 and 2017, Julia Nevin’s surviving husband, Stanley Nevin, executed mineral leases with Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. In 2018, Stanley sued the successors in interest to Angus, alleging Lois owned half of the minerals reserved in the 1960 deeds. In response, the Angus heirs claimed Angus did not intend to reserve any minerals to Lois because she did not own an interest in the property conveyed in the 1960 deeds. The district court granted Northern Oil’s motion to intervene. Northern Oil appeals the quiet title judgment deciding Northern Oil did not own mineral interests in the McKenzie County property, arguing the district court erred in concluding the deeds at issue were ambiguous as to whether Angus intended to reserve minerals to his wife, Lois. Finding no reversible error in the trial court judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Nevin, et al. v. Kennedy, et al." on Justia Law
UMB Bank N.A. v. Eagle Crest Apartments, et al.
Defendants Eagle Crest Apartments, LLC, et al. appealed a judgment awarding UMB Bank N.A. more than $21 million in an action for breach of contract, foreclosure, fraudulent transfers, and deceit. The Defendants raised a number of issues on appeal. The North Dakota limited review to the issues raised in defendants' motion for a new trial, and concluded the district court did not err when it entered a deficiency judgment and pierced the Defendants’ corporate veils. View "UMB Bank N.A. v. Eagle Crest Apartments, et al." on Justia Law
Shafer v. Scarborough, et al.
Justin Shafer appealed a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award against Diamond Development & Custom Homes, L.L.C. Shafer argued the district court erred by failing to increase the amount of damages he was awarded. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should narrowly expand the standard for reviewing an arbitration award. The Court declined Shafer’s request to expand the standard of review, and concluded the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Shafer v. Scarborough, et al." on Justia Law
Kubik v. Hauck
Scott Kubik appealed a judgment quieting title in favor of Dominic Hauck on a property line dispute and denying his claim of acquiescence. Kubik and Hauck were adjacent landowners. A wire fence ran east and west near the property line. After a survey of his land, Hauck discovered the fence was several feet inside of his property. Hauck removed the original fence and built a new fence consistent with the property line identified by the survey. In 2020, Kubik sued Hauck to quiet title in the strip of land located on the south side of the original fence line (i.e., the land between the original fence line and the new fence line) under adverse possession and acquiescence, and for trespassing and damaging his property. Hauck counterclaimed to quiet title in the disputed property. After a bench trial, the district court quieted title in favor of Hauck based on the survey showing that he is the rightful owner and rejected Kubik’s claims of adverse possession, acquiescence, trespass, and damages. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not clearly err in finding that Kubik failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that Hauck or his predecessors in interest recognized the original fence line as the property line. View "Kubik v. Hauck" on Justia Law
Trosen, et al. v. Trosen, et al.
Jeff Trosen appealed a judgment and amended judgment awarding damages for a breach of contract claim to the Estate of Shirley Trosen and the Trosen Family Trust and dismissing Jeff’s counterclaim and third-party complaint. A dispute arose over Jeff’s lease of farmland from Shirley. The lease covered the farming seasons of 2017 through 2022. Partial payments were made in 2020 and 2021, leaving balances owed for those years. Shirley and the Trust sued Jeff for breach of contract and to cancel the lease. Jeff argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and by dismissing his counterclaim and third-party complaint. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgments. View "Trosen, et al. v. Trosen, et al." on Justia Law