Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia
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In this interpleader action seeking a judicial resolution of two disputed claims of ownership of proceeds from the sale of unclaimed corporate stock the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the buyer of the original stock, not the seller, had a super equitable claim of ownership, holding that the circuit court did not err.MCC Acquisition, LC purchased all of the assets of M.C. Construction, which included Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield stock. M.C. Construction never delivered the stock certificates, however, because it had never possessed them. Later, the Treasurer sold the stock and filed this interpleader action. The circuit court awarded the proceeds from the sale of the unclaimed corporate stock to MCC Acquisition, finding that MCC Acquisition had obtained equitable title to the Trigon stock. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly awarded the interpleader stock proceeds to MCC Acquisition; and (2) did not err in rejecting the argument that the statute of limitations barred MCC Acquisition's in rem claim. View "Day v. MCC Acquisition, LC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Plaintiff's request for attorneys' fees from the unrepresented parties in her partition suit under Va. Code 8.01-92 and denying Plaintiff's requests to share the costs for bringing the action and for an award of the rental value of the subject property from the parties who occupied it, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiff and her four siblings inherited real property from their mother. Plaintiff later brought suit to partition the property and requested that the trial court compel its sale and divide the proceeds according to the parties' respective rights and interests after subtracting the expenses of Plaintiff's suit. Two siblings appeared at trial pro se. The trial court ordered that the property be sold and the proceeds be split equally among all five siblings and denied Plaintiff's request for fair rental value. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in refusing to award Plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees out of the shares of the unrepresented siblings in the proceeds of the sale of the property; (2) did not err in failing to divide the costs of the partition suit equally among the siblings; and (3) did not err in failing to award fair rental value. View "Berry v. Fitzhugh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from a decision of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) holding that short-term rentals were not authorized by Fairfax County zoning ordinances, holding that this case was moot.The Ratcliffs owned a home in Fairfax County that they made available as a short-term rental. After the decisions of the BZA and circuit court, the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County filed a petition for appeal with the Supreme Court. The Ratcliffs filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot because they had sold the home. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot because there was no live controversy. The Court then ordered that the circuit court's judgment be vacated, holding that vacatur of the lower court judgment was appropriate. View "Fairfax Board of Supervisors v. Ratcliff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court sustaining the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) demurrer as to Plaintiff's action seeking a declaratory judgment ordering the Commissioner of Highways to provide relocation benefits under Va. Code 25.1-406 of the Virginia Relocation Assistance Act (VRAA), holding that no private cause of action for payment of relocation expenses can be implied under section 25.1-406.The VDOT sent Plaintiff a letter informing him that he would be required to relocate his dental office to accommodate an interstate road project. When Plaintiff failed timely to vacate his dental office VDOT initiated eviction proceedings. After moving his practice, Plaintiff submitted a claim to VDOT for $567,278 in relocation assistance payments. VDOT ultimately approved $35,346 in reimbursements and notified Plaintiff that it could not make a decision about the balance of his claim until he submitted additional documentation detailing his expenses. Plaintiff neither submitted the requested documentation, nor did he appeal VDOT's decision. Instead, he brought this suit. The circuit court sustained VDOT's demurrer, finding that there is no private cause of action under the VRAA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the VRAA does not provide a private cause of action. View "Fernandez v. Commissioner of Highways" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting the demurrer filed by the City of Chesapeake and dismissing this declaratory judgment action brought by Landowner claiming that the closure of one of two roads from which Landowner accessed its property constituted a taking that entitled it to compensation, holding that where Landowner was not deprived of reasonable access to its property, the trial court did not err.Previously, Landowner's property was accessible from two roads. In 2017, the City closed one road to all but emergency vehicles. Landowner sought a declaration that the City's elimination of direct access from the property from the closed road constituted a taking of its property without just compensation. The City filed a demurrer. The trial court sustained the demurrer, concluding that Landowner failed to plead that its property right of access was taken or damaged because access to the property still existed from the other road. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly sustained the demurrer. View "Hooked Group, LLC v. City of Chesapeake" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that an obstructive act committed before the accrual of a cause of action tolls the statute of limitations under Va. Code 8.01-229(D) regardless of whether the cause of action has accrued at the time of the obstructive act.After Nelson Mackey left a law firm, the remaining partners - Griffith Dodson, Richard Pence, and Richard Viar - formed another partnership. Pence, Dodson, and Viar subsequently passed away. Mackey told Michael Quinn, who helped Joyce Viar with tax matters regarding Richard's estate, that certain stock that the former partnership owned had no financial interest to Mrs. Viar. Therefore, the estate did not attempt to collect the stock. Mackey subsequently sold the stock. When the three estates learned of the stock's existence and Mackey's actions, they sued Mackey alleging conversion of the stock. The trial court concluded that Mackey converted the stock, that section 8.01-229(D) tolled the limitations period, and that the tolling applied to all of the estates. The Supreme Court held (1) Mackey's representation to Quinn was sufficient to toll the statute of limitations as to Mrs. Via; but (2) because Mackey demonstrated no obstructive intent as to the Dodson or Pence estates, section 8.01-229(D) did not toll the limitations period for their claims. View "Mackey v. McDannald" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court upholding the town council's approval of the developers' conditional zoning application, holding that a local government may accept a conditional proffer from a property owner as part of a rezoning application that alters a minimum mixed-use requirement of a zoning district below that specified in the local zoning ordinance.Ten property owners filed an application with the Warrenton Planning Commission to rezone thirty-one acres of land within Warrenton from industrial to industrial planned unit development (I-PUD). The developers' proffer statement included mixed land use percentages that did not comport with the target of the town's zoning ordinance percentages. The town council approved the rezoning. Several residents jointly filed a complaint challenging the approval of the rezoning. The circuit court granted judgment in favor of the town council and the developers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly interpreted the language of the ordinance to be in accord with the authorizing statutes and the definitional section of Va. Code 15.2-2201. View "Rowland v. Town Council of Warrenton" on Justia Law

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In this land use case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining a demurrer and dismissing a landowner's appeal from the decision of the city council, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting a motion craving oyer of the legislative record upon which the city council's decision was based and in thereafter sustaining a demurrer.Plaintiff, who owned a house in the historic district of the City of Alexandria, submitted a plan to install a Victorian metal "wicket and spear" fence pierced by two gates. The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) approved a certificate of appropriateness as to the materials and fence design but with the condition that the width of the double gate not exceed six feet. The City Council affirmed the BAR's decision. Plaintiff appealed to the circuit court. In response, the City filed a demurrer and a motion craving oyer of the legislative record that had been before the city council when it made its decision. The court granted the motion craving oyer and then sustained the demurrer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting the motion craving oyer of the legislative record in Plaintiff's appeal or in sustaining the demurrer. View "Byrne v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court finding that a condominium association's insurance provider waived subrogation against the tenant of an individual unit owner where the tenant was not a named or additional insured, holding that the circuit court erred.As a result of losses sustained from a fire to property managed by Chimney Hill Condominium Association, and consistent with its coverage obligations, Erie Insurance Exchange made payments for the benefit of the Association. Standing in the shoes of the Association, Erie then brought suit against Naomi Alba to recover the payments it made, alleging that Alba negligently caused the fire. Alba, who lived in the unit where the fire originated under a residential lease agreement, filed a third-party complaint against John Sailsman, the unit's owner, for indemnification. The circuit court granted Alba's motion for declaratory judgment, holding that Erie could not pursue subrogation against Alba. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Alba was not an implied insured of the Association because no contractual relationship or agreement existed between the two parties to allocate risks and responsibilities and because the surrounding circumstances reflected the contrary intention of not absolving non-unit owners of responsibility for harm caused by their negligent acts. View "Erie Insurance Exchange v. Alba" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court sustaining demurrers to Plaintiff's claim seeking the equitable rescission of a foreclosure sale and her claim asserting that the trustee conducting the foreclosure sale breached its fiduciary duty, holding that the circuit court did not err by sustaining the demurrers.When Appellant failed to make timely payments toward a debt secured by a deed of trust, Equity Trustees, LLC, Bank of America's substitute trustee, foreclosed upon the property. After the property was sold at a foreclosure sale Appellant filed an amended complaint requesting the equitable rescission of the foreclosure sale based on Bank of America's breach of the terms of the deed of trust and asserting that Equity breached its fiduciary duty to Plaintiff. The defendants each filed demurrers to the complaint, which the circuit court granted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's amended complaint failed to plead facts establishing that she incurred any harm resulting from the alleged breach of the deed of trust or that Equity breached its fiduciary duty by conducting the foreclosure sale. View "Young-Allen v. Bank of America" on Justia Law