Articles Posted in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The issue before the Tenth Circuit in this case centered on whether the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), as amended by the Reform Act of 1987, required the Secretary of the Interior to issue leases for parcels of land to the highest bidding energy company within sixty days of payment to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Appellants (collectively, "Energy Companies") sued to compel the Secretary to issue pending leases on which they were the high bidders and more than sixty days had passed since they had paid the BLM in full. The district court construed the MLA to impose a mandate on the Secretary to decide whether to issue the leases, and ordered BLM to make such decisions regarding the still pending leases of Energy Companies within thirty days. Energy Companies appealed the district court's order and asserted that the MLA required the Secretary to issue the pending leases within sixty days rather than merely make a decision on whether the leases will be issued. Upon review of the matter, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court’s order was not a "final decision," and as such, the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the Energy Companies' appeal. View "Western Energy Alliance v. Salazar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants Bryan and JoLynne Toone executed a promissory note secured by a deed of trust on their home. The note was assigned several times. After the Toones defaulted on the Note, their home was scheduled to be sold at a trustee’s foreclosure sale. They filed suit to halt the foreclosure and to obtain damages and declaratory relief based on alleged violations of statutory and common-law duties by numerous parties who had current or prior interests in the Note and Trust Deed or were involved in the foreclosure efforts. The district court denied relief and the Toones appealed. Finding no abuse of the district court's discretion in denying the Toones relief, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. View "Toone v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Harald Dude secured a $1.9 million loan on his Aspen home from Washington Mutual Bank. He sought to borrow another $500,000 from Wells Fargo Bank. As part of the application process, Defendant completed a form for Wells Fargo's title insurance company, Plaintiff-Appellee Stewart Title Guaranty Company. The form required Defendant to disclose existing liens on property. Knowing that the company failed to discover the existence of the Washington Mutual loan, Defendant did not list the lien on Stewart Title's form. Wells Fargo proceeded with the second loan based on representations made on the form. Several years later, Defendant elected to sell the property. Stewart Title was contacted to provide title insurance. A second title search failed to reveal the Washington Mutual loan. The company again provided its disclosure form to Defendant who again omitted the Washington Mutual loan. At some point, Defendant stopped making payments on the Washington Mutual loan. Eventually it threatened the property's new owner with foreclosure. The new owner made a claim on her title insurance with Stewart Title. Honoring what it perceived to be its contractual obligations, Stewart Title paid Washington Mutual’s loan amount in full. Stewart Title then sued. A jury found Defendant liable for fraudulent misrepresentation. On appeal, Defendant and his company argued there was insufficient evidence to hold him liable. Finding sufficient evidence for which the jury could have found Defendant liable, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the verdict against him. View "Stewart Title v. Dude, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Adriana Berneike appealed the district court’s dismissal of her Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Utah Consumer Sales Protection Act (UCSPA), and breach of contract claims asserted against CitiMortgage, Inc. (Citi). In 2010, Plaintiff faxed twenty-eight different letters to Citi, her mortgage loan servicer, asserting that Citi was incorrectly billing her for overcharges and improper fees. She faxed a two more rounds of different letters, insisting Citi was overcharging her. Citi replied that Plaintiff's account was correct and that taxes and an escrow shortage caused billing fluctuation. Several months later, Plaintiff sent a third round of fort-seven different letters to Citi claiming billing errors. Altogether, Plaintiff faxed more than one hundred letters to Citi, and claimed that despite paying in full every bill she received, she continued to be overcharged and was facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. Plaintiff then filed suit in Utah state court. Among other damages, she sought $1,000 per violation of RESPA. Citi removed the case to federal court, and the court subsequently granted Citi's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims. Finding that the federal court did not err by dismissing Plaintiff's claims, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. View "Berneike v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Roger Schanzenbach owned several properties in the town of Opal on which he intended to install mobile manufactured homes. He applied for permits with town authorities. The town council issued several building permits to Plaintiff but shortly thereafter enacted an ordinance that included a provision banning the installation of any manufactured home that was older than 10 years at the time of the relevant permit application (the 10-Year Rule). When the permits were about to lapse and Plaintiff requested an extension, the town council denied his request. It also rejected his applications for new permits because the proposed houses were more than 10 years old. Plaintiff then sued the town and town council asserting that the 10-Year Rule was preempted by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 as well as a variety of constitutional claims. The district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Plaintiff raised claims based on preemption, equal protection, and substantive due process. Upon review, the Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on these claims. The 10-Year Rule was not preempted and the rule was sufficiently rational to survive an equal-protection or substantive-due-process challenge. View "Schanzenbach v. Town of Opal" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Roger Schanzenbach owned several properties in the town of LaBarge on which he intended to install mobile manufactured homes. He applied for permits with town authorities. The town council initially granted him a building permit for one property but revoked it about two weeks later and then enacted an ordinance that included a provision banning the installation of any manufactured home older than 10 years at the time of the relevant permit application (the 10-Year Rule). Both of Plaintiff's homes were more than 10 years old. The town council denied Plaintiff's applications for a building permit, a variance, and a conditional-use permit to enable him to install the homes despite the 10-Year Rule. Plaintiff thereafter sued, arguing a variety of constitutional claims as well as a claim that the 10-Year Rule was preempted by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. The district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Plaintiff raised issues regarding the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, procedural due process, preemption, municipal authority to enact the 10-Year Rule, and attorney fees. Upon review, the Court held that the takings claim was unripe, the due-process claim failed because Plaintiff did not have a protected property interest, the 10-Year Rule was not preempted, the town had authority to enact the rule, and the attorney-fee issue was moot. View "Schanzenbach v. Town of La Barge" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants Theodore L. Hansen, Interstate Energy Corp. and Triple M, L.L.C., appealed a district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee PT. Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. ("BNI"). Plaintiffs sued BNI and various other defendants based on BNI's refusal to honor certain bank guaranties and letters of credit. Eventually, the district court granted BNI's motion for summary judgment for lack of jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Finding no error or abuse of the district court's discretion, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Hansen, et al v. PT Bank Negara Indonesia, et al" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Charlene Burnett filed this action against James H. Woodall, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., and fifty unnamed individuals. The complaint asserted violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act (USCPA), and other related claims arising out of the foreclosure of her home. The district court dismissed Petitioner's complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), and she appealed that decision. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court: "We will not review an issue in the absence of reasoned arguments advanced by the appellant as to the grounds for its appeal." View "Burnett v. Mortgage Electronic, et al" on Justia Law

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Defendant Derrick Reuben Smith was convicted by a jury on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to real estate mortgages. The district court declared a mistrial as to four other counts on which the jury could not reach a verdict, and later dismissed these counts without prejudice. At sentencing, the district court calculated an advisory sentencing range of thirty-seven to forty-six months' imprisonment. The court then sentenced Defendant to forty months' imprisonment and ordered payment of restitution. On appeal, Defendant objected to the district court’s dismissal of the mistried counts without, rather than with, prejudice. He also raised two challenges to the district court's calculation of actual loss in its determination of the applicable sentencing range. Finding no error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The issue on appeal in this case concerned WildEarth Guardians’ challenge to the National Park Service’s (NPS) elk and vegetation management plan for Rocky Mountain National Park. WildEarth filed suit in federal district court challenging the plan and the final environmental impact statement the NPS prepared in conjunction with the plan. WildEarth contended the NPS violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to include the reintroduction of a naturally reproducing wolf population as one of the alternatives considered in the environmental impact statement. WildEarth also challenged the agency’s proposal to allow volunteers to assist the agency in reducing the elk population. The district court affirmed the agency action, and WildEarth appealed. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found that the record supported the agency’s decision to exclude consideration of a natural wolf alternative from its environmental impact statement. The Court also found the agency’s interpretation of the National Parks Organic Act and Rocky Mountain National Park Enabling Act persuasive, and that its elk management plan did not violate those statutes. View "WildEarth Guardians v. National Park Service" on Justia Law