Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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G&M filed suit against BP, asserting that it was a co-owner of both the pumping station and the land on which it sits and seeking an accounting for all revenue and profit that BP made from the pumping station. The district court granted summary judgment for BP where BP contended that the St. Julien Doctrine prescribed G&M's claim and contested G&M's assertion of co-ownership. The court concluded that the St. Julien Doctrine did not apply in this case where the bare existence of the pumping station did not demonstrate G&M's consent or acquiescence to a servitude. Nor could G&M's inaction in the expropriation action serve as the basis for finding this final element of the St. Julien Doctrine. Because G&M never acquired an ownership interest in the pumping station, the resolution of this issue turned on whether those profits were the "civil fruits" of the co-owned Tract. The district court reversed and remanded to the district court to further consider whether the profits were civil fruits of the Tract and, if so, whether G&M was therefore entitled to an accounting. View "Gulf and Miss. River Transp. Co., Ltd. v. BP Oil Pipeline Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, landowners, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq., seeking damages from the government for its role in the design, construction, and maintenance of a portion of a highway that prevented sufficient drainage periods of heavy rainfall. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that the district court erred when it declined to apply Louisiana's continuing-tort doctrine to delay commencement of the running of the FTCA's two-year limitations period. The court concluded that plaintiffs have not been aggrieved by a Louisiana continuing tort and have failed to bear their burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action for lack of jurisdiction because plaintiffs' claim was time-barred. View "Young, et al. v. United States" on Justia Law

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This case involved the foreclosure sale of certain property owned by plaintiffs. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of their claims against BAC and NDE under the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA), Tex. Fin. Code 392.304(a), the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 17.41 et seq., and Texas common law. The court concluded that plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to state a claim against BAC for misrepresenting the status or nature of the services that it rendered. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the TDCA claims under section 392.304(a)(14) as to that basis, remanding for further proceedings. Consequently, the court also reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' request for an accounting from NDE. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Miller, et al. v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, mortgagors who defaulted on their note, appealed the district court's motion to dismiss their suit seeking to enjoin a bank from foreclosing. Plaintiffs argued that the assignments by which the bank obtained the note and corresponding deed of trust were "robo-signed" and therefore invalid. Concluding that plaintiffs had standing, the court reaffirmed that, under Texas law, facially valid assignments could not be challenged for want of authority except by the defrauded assignor. View "Reinagel, Jr., et al. v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law

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Appellees, the Rubins, requested that the district court issue a Writ of Garnishment against the assets of Hamas and HLF after obtaining a judgment against Hamas for damages resulting from a terrorist attack in an outdoor pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. The district court executed the writ but the Rubins could not execute against HLF's assets because those assets had been restrained under 21 U.S.C. 853 to preserve their availability for criminal forfeiture proceedings. The district court subsequently denied the government's motion to dismiss the Rubins' third-party petition under section 853(n) to assert their interests in the restrained assets and vacated the preliminary order of forfeiture. The district court held that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA), Pub. L. No. 107-297, title II, 201, 116 Stat. 2337, allowed the Rubins to execute against HLF's assets not withstanding the government's forfeiture proceedings. The court reversed, holding that section 853(n) did not provide the Rubins with a basis to prevail in the ancillary proceeding; TRIA did not provide the Rubins a basis to assert their interest in the forfeited property; TRIA did not trump the criminal forfeiture statute; and the in custodia legis doctrine did not preclude the district court's in personam jurisdiction over HLF. View "United States v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a declaratory judgment action alleging that he was the owner of certain mineral rights in the land previously sold to the Sabine River Authority. The court disagreed, concluding that the language used in the conveyance deeds did not demonstrate that the disputed mineral rights were transferred to plaintiff's predecessors-in-interest. Therefore, defendant owned the disputed mineral rights and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Temple v. McCall, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents and property owners, alleged that emissions by energy companies contributed to global warming, which intensified Hurricane Katrina, which, in turn, damaged their property. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that res judicata barred plaintiffs' claims because the district court's judgment in Comer I was final and on the merits. Because true res judicata compelled good repose and barred plaintiffs' claims, the court need not address whether collateral estoppel applied or decide plaintiffs' other claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Comer v. Murphy Oil USA Inc, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, seeking damages and declaratory relief, brought a diversity action against two national banking associations, alleging violations of Louisiana consumer protection law in connection with a mortgage foreclosure proceeding. The district court dismissed the action in part pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and in part for failure to state a claim of a statutory exemption under Louisiana law. The court concluded that the district court had jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's claims, which were "independent claims" for Rooker-Feldman purposes. However, plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed nonetheless for failure to state a claim where the Louisiana consumer protection law did not provide plaintiff with an avenue of relief because both banks were exempt and where plaintiff had not disputed that her declaratory judgment could be dismissed under Louisiana's preclusion principles. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Truong v. Bank of America, N.A., et al" on Justia Law

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This case arose when plaintiffs filed a class action suit in state court against the Levee District and Flood Protection Agency. Plaintiffs then initiated a second state court suit against the Levee District and the Agency. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed an amended petition, joining the Corps as a defendant, seeking declaratory judgment that defendants did not possess a servitude over their property. The Corps then removed the case to federal district court, the district court granted in part and denied in part the Corps' motion to dismiss, and the United States petitioned for permission to appeal. At issue on appeal was whether plaintiffs' action against the Corps fell within the scope of the Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so as to waive the United States' immunity to suit and authorize federal subject matter jurisdiction. Because the title dispute here concerned ownership of the purported servitude - a title dispute between plaintiffs and a third party - and because it was plausible to read the QTA as only authorizing suit when the underlying title dispute was between plaintiff and the United States, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lonatro, et al v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a dispute between the City and RBIII where the City demolished a dilapidated building on property that RBIII owned. The City did not provide notice to RBIII before razing the structure and RBIII filed suit against the City. The district court granted summary judgment for the City on all claims except a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim and a Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure claim. Those claims were tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in favor of RBIII. The City then appealed. The court agreed with the City's argument on appeal that the district court's jury instructions did not accurately reflect the applicable law and that, under the correct legal standards, it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. Because the court vacated the trial court's judgment against the City, the court need not consider the other issues raised in the City's appeal. View "RBIII, L.P. v. City of San Antonio" on Justia Law