Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of Charlestown Zoning Board of Review denying a special-use permit and a dimensional variance, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the denial of the special-use permit.New Castle Realty Company applied to the zoning board for a special-use permit and a dimensional variance to build a house and install a septic system on a preexisting nonconforming lot. The zoning board denied both requests. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the superior court's judgment, holding (1) substantial evidence did not exist in the record to support either the zoning board's decision to deny the special-use permit or the trial justice's ruling affirming the denial of the special-use permit; and (2) the trial justice correctly concluded that certain testimony was fatal to New Castle's request for a dimensional variance. View "New Castle Realty Co. v. Dreczko" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court confirming the judicial foreclosure of Defendant's home in favor of Plaintiff, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, holding that the superior court did not err.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial justice erred by confirming the foreclosure sale because she had not been provided a copy of a notice of foreclosure counseling at least forty-five days prior to receiving the certified letter and that Plaintiff foreclosed the property without holding the note or the mortgage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in confirming the judicial foreclosure sale; and (2) because Plaintiff had been assigned the mortgage prior to the foreclosure sale it did not need to hold the note in order to foreclose on the property. View "Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Medina" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court entered in favor of Plaintiffs, Charles and Nicole Martin, on their claim for injunctive relief allowing them to access a common driveway for the purpose of entering and existing their property and enjoining Defendants, Glenn and Valerie Wilson, from interfering with such use, holding that the trial justice did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial justice (1) did not err by allowing parol evidence to be admitted; (2) neither overlooked nor misconceived material evidence in finding that Plaintiffs established an implied easement over the disputed section of the common driveway; and (3) did not err by finding that Defendants' counterclaims for declaratory judgment, trespass, and equitable relief were moot. View "Martin v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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In this partition action, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court ruling that Plaintiff's death terminated her interest in a joint tenancy, holding that R.I. Gen. Laws 34-15-12 abrogates the common law right of survivorship in a joint tenancy when an action for partition is pending.Plaintiff filed a partition action requesting that the superior court partition property she owned in a joint tenancy with Defendants. Defendants asserted counterclaims for unjust enrichment and breach of agreement. While the litigation was pending, Plaintiff died. Defendants moved to dismiss the partition action, asserting that Plaintiff's property interest had passed to the remaining joint tenants by operation of law upon Plaintiff's demise. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiff's decease did not abate her action for partition, and therefore, the litigation remained pending. View "Butler v. Gavek" on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court, holding that questions of disputed material facts existed regarding Plaintiff's claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that could not be resolved on a motion for judgment on the pleadings.Defendants, as mortgagees, caused a foreclosure sale to be conducted for certain property. Plaintiff was the successful bidder. Defendants were prepared to convey title to Plaintiff but when Defendants asserted that Plaintiff was liable for all costs that had accrued with respect to the property, but Plaintiff disputed this liability. Defendants then caused a foreclosure-of-bid letter to be sent to Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this action alleging four counts. The superior court granted Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as to the claim under the Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act and otherwise vacated the judgment, holding that the district court erred in granting judgment on the pleadings as to the remaining counts. View "Premier Home Restoration, LLC v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim for breach of the implied warranty of habitability, holding that Plaintiffs' claim for breach of the implied warranty of habitability was time barred.Plaintiffs purchased a home from Defendant and received a warranty deed. Plaintiffs later brought this action alleging seven counts. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on all counts, determining that Plaintiffs' tort claims were barred by the statute of repose and that this Court's holding in Nichols v. R.R. Beaufort & Associates, Inc., 727 A.2d 174 (R.I. 1999), barred Plaintiffs' claim based on the implied warranty of habitability. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Nichols applies to original homeowners, and therefore, homeowners have a period of ten years following substantial completion of improvement to real property to discover a latent defect; and (2) Plaintiffs' claim for breach of the implied warranty of habitability in this case was time barred. View "Mondoux v. Vanghel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of purchasers of a marina, holding that Plaintiff's claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata.An earlier partition action was commenced to settle an intrafamily properly dispute among descendants of Eleanor Mott. In that action, a special master, who was appointed to manage the businesses of the various properties subject to partition, terminated Plaintiff's lease to one of those properties, a marina, because a bona fide purchaser had agreed to purchase the various properties during the course of the partition proceeding, in which Plaintiff had participated. Plaintiff then initiated this action to challenge the special master's authority to terminate Plaintiff's lease. The superior court granted summary judgment to the purchasers of the marina, finding that Plaintiff's claims were barred by res judicata. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err by granting summary judgment for Defendants on res judicata grounds. View "BI Boat Basin Associates, LLC v. Sky Blue Pink, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiff, Bank of America, in this consolidated appeal, holding that the hearing justice did not err.Defendants were the sole principles of an LLC. The LLC executed a promissory note to Plaintiff secured by a first-position mortgage on the property. On the same day, Defendants executed a guaranty of the loan agreement. When the LLC failed to pay the note, Plaintiff filed complaints in Connecticut Superior Court and in Rhode Island Superior Court seeking to foreclose on the property and arguing that Defendants were jointly and severally liable for the indebtedness due under their guaranty. In both actions, final judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err when he (1) granted Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to Defendants' liability on the guaranty; (2) found that Defendants were bound by the Connecticut Superior Court's deficiency calculation; and (3) denied Defendant's motion to amend his answer without holding a hearing. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Fay" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Gonsalves-Pastore Realty, LLC and dismissing Mauro Poletti's negligence complaint, holding that summary judgment was properly granted.Poletti entered into an agreement with Linda Glynn, a licensed real estate agent, to assist him in the purchase of real estate for investment purposes. Later, Glynn granted two mortgages on property purchased in furtherance of Poletti's investment plan and used the resulting funds in contravention of that plan. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Gonsalves-Pastore, as Glynn's employer or principal, breached its fiduciary duty to Poletti to oversee Glynn such that Glynn was acting in the best interests of Poletti and that no loss would ever occur to Poletti. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Gonsalves-Pastore. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in (1) determining that no genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether or not a fiduciary relationship existed between Poletti and Gonsalves-Pastore; and (2) concluding that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether or not Defendant was liable for Glynn's alleged acts of malfeasance. View "Poletti v. Glynn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant, Pinto's Auto & truck Repair, LLC, in this action alleging that Defendant's repairs to Plaintiff's 2004 Freightliner Columbia were faulty, holding that the hearing justice properly granted summary judgment in Defendant's favor.The hearing justice granted summary judgment for Defendant because Plaintiff did not produce the required expert testimony to demonstrate that there was a genuine issue of material fact in dispute regarding Defendant's allegedly negligent failure to observe industry standard, negligent service and installation, and failure to deliver a properly serviced truck. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was proper where Plaintiff produced no admissible evidence that Defendant negligently repaired the Freightliner, breached any contract it had with Plaintiff by failing to deliver a properly serviced truck, or alternatively, was unjustly enriched by accepting Plaintiff's money without completing proper repairs. View "Vicente v. Pinto's Auto & Truck Repair, LLC" on Justia Law