Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court reversed the the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the Gary Housing Authority and dismissing allegations that the Housing Authority's notice of its administrative taking of 624 Broadway, LLC's property was constitutionally deficient, holding that the deficient notice was not harmless.The Housing Authority only provided notice of its taking of 624 Broadway's property by publication, despite knowing how to contact the LLC. After 624 Broadway unsuccessfully requested the Housing Authority to postpone the meeting to its appraiser could assess the property 624 Broadway brought this complaint, alleging that the Housing Authority violated its federal due process rights. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Housing Authority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Housing Authority's constitutionally deficient notice to 624 Broadway was prejudicial; and (2) 624 Broadway was entitled to a damages hearing. View "624 Broadway, LLC v. Gary Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court in this civil forfeiture action, holding that Appellant's designated evidence regarding the origins of much of his seized cash was sufficient to overcome the State's motion for summary judgment.The Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in the State's favor regarding $8,923 in cash and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding (1) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the seized funds were a part of Appellant's alleged racketeering activity; (2) the Racketeering Forfeiture Statue does not permit a court to release the seized res subject to forfeiture to the defendant to fund a defense in the forfeiture action; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's request for appointed counsel, even if exceptional circumstances may have existed. View "Abbott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the trial court granting dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for breach of the implied warranty of habitability and negligence as to four of the defendants, holding that the complaint included facts capable of supporting relief on Plaintiff's implied-warranty-of-habitability claims against two of the defendants.Plaintiff, a homeowners' association, sued Defendants after discovering defects at a condominium complex. Four of the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that they were not subject to the implied warranty of habitability because they were not builder-vendors and that the negligence claim was barred by the economic loss doctrine. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff alleged facts capable of supporting relief on its implied-warranty-of-habitability claims against two of the defendants; and (2) Plaintiff alleged facts capable of supporting relief on its negligence claim. View "Residences at Ivy Quad Unit Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Ivy Quad Development, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this property valuation matter for further proceedings, holding that the use of a now-defunct tax appeal form challenging assessments to certain homeowners' association lands for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 was proper.Petitioners, homeowners' associations located in Marion County, filed petitions for correction of an error (Form 133) alleging that property tax assessments from the years 2001 through 2003 were illegal because certain common areas of the properties were so encumbered by restrictions that the land had no value. The Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals denied the forms. The Tax Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding in part that the HOAs' claim was not proper for a Form 133. The Supreme Court reversed in part and summarily affirmed in part, holding that Form 133 was a proper avenue to challenge the application of a discount to common land within the HOAs' property. View "Muir Woods Section One Ass'n Inc. v. Marion County Assessor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court ruled that the forfeiture of Tyson Timbs's his white Land Rover was unconstitutional, holding that Timbs met his high burden to show that the harshness of his Land Rover's forfeiture was grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the underlying offense and his culpability for the vehicle's misuse.The State filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that Timbs had used his Land Rover to illegally purchase, possess, and deal narcotics. The trial court entered judgment for Timbs. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. On remand, the Supreme Court held that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment includes both instrumentality and proportionality limitations for use-based in rem fines like the forfeiture of Timbs's vehicle and that such fines are constitutional if two requirements are met. The Supreme Court held that the forfeiture fell within the Excessive Fines Clauses's instrumentality limit but remanded for the trial court to determine whether the harshness of the forfeiture penalty was grossly disproportional to the gravity of the offense. The trial court determined that Timbs had shown gross disproportionality. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Timbs met his burden to show gross disproportionality and that the Land Rover's forfeiture was unconstitutional. View "State v. Timbs" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court reversing the order of the City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) affirming the decision of the City of Bloomington citing UJ-Eighty Corporation for a zoning violation, holding that there were not constitutional violations in this case.UJ-Eighty owned a fraternity house at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington that was located within a district zoned by the City to permit limited residential uses. UJ-Eighty leased its house to an IU-sanctioned fraternity, but before the lease ended, IU revoked its recognition and approval of the fraternity, which meant that no one could live there. Bloomington cited UJ-Eighty for a zoning violation when two residents remained in the house. The BZA affirmed. UJ-Eighty appealed, arguing that the City impermissibly delegated its zoning authority to IJ by allowing it unilaterally to define fraternities and sororities. The trial court agreed and struck down the ordinance's definition of fraternities and sororities under the state and federal constitutions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Bloomington did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment because the ordinance was not an impermissible delegation of power or a denial of due process. View "City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals v. UJ-Eighty Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Indiana Land Trust's motion to set aside a tax deed, holding that the LaPorte County Auditor gave adequate notice reasonably calculated to inform Indiana Land Trust Company of the impeding tax sale of the property.Taxes went unpaid on a vacant property from 2009 to 2015. The county auditor sent notice of an impending tax sale via certified letter and first-class mail to the notice listed on the deed for the property. The certified letter came back as undeliverable, and the first-class mail was not returned. Notice was eventually published in the local newspaper. The property sold, and a tax deed was issued to the purchaser. When the original owner learned of the sale it moved to set aside the tax deed due to insufficient notice. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county auditor provided adequate notice and was not required to search its own internal records for a better tax sale notice address; and (2) the trial court properly denied Indiana Land Trust's motion to set aside the tax deed. View "Indiana Land Trust Co. v. XL Investment Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding a statute stopping the City of Bloomington's proposed annexation of several areas of land and prohibiting the City from attempting to annex the areas for five years unconstitutional, holding that the statute is unconstitutional special legislation in violation of Ind. Const. art. IV, 23.While Bloomington was taking steps toward annexation, the General Assembly passed Ind. Code 36-4-3-11.8 cutting off the City's proposed annexation and prohibiting the City from trying to annex the same areas for the next five years. The City sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City, declaring the statute unconstitutional under Article 4, Sections 19 and 23 of the Indiana Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City can bring this declaratory judgment action against the Governor; and (2) section 11.8 is unconstitutional special legislation. View "Holcomb v. City of Bloomington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in this declaratory judgment action against Governor Holcomb, holding that the statute passed by the legislature in 2017 stopping the City of Bloomington's proposed annexation of several areas of land and prohibiting the City from trying to annex the areas for five years is unconstitutional special legislation in violation of Ind. Const. art. IV, 23.In 2017, the Bloomington mayor announced plans for a proposed annexation of several areas of land. After the City Council adopted the initiating resolutions and Bloomington took its initial steps toward annexation, the General Assembly passed legislation codified at Ind. Code 36-4-3-11.8 cutting off Bloomington's proposed annexation and prohibiting the City from trying to annex the same areas for the next five years. The City brought this suit seeking declarations that section 11.8 constitutes unconstitutional special legislation and violates article 4, section 19's single-subject rule. The trial court declared section 11.8 unconstitutional under article 4, sections 19 and 23 of the Indiana Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 11.8 constitutes impermissible special legislation. View "Holcomb v. City of Bloomington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court denying Indiana Land Trust's motion to set aside a tax deed, holding that the LaPorte County Auditor gave adequate notice reasonably calculated to inform Indiana Land Trust Company of the impending tax sale of the property.From 2009 to 2015, the owner of vacant property did not pay property taxes. Through a third-party service, the county auditor sent simultaneous notice of an impending tax sale by way of certified letter and first-class mail to the address listed on the deed for the property. The owner, however, had moved and had not updated its address. Later, notice was published in the local newspaper. The property eventually sold and a tax deed was issued to the purchaser. The original owner moved to set aside the tax deed due to insufficient notice. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of Indiana Land Trust Company's motion to set aside the tax deed, holding that the county auditor provided notice reasonably calculated, under all circumstances, to apprise the owner of the pendency of the action and afforded them an opportunity to present their objections. View "Indiana Land Trust Co. v. XL Investment Properties, LLC" on Justia Law