Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Chase v. Andeavor Logistics, L.P.
In 2017, Andeavor agreed with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, to renew the right-of-way over tribal lands, and to pay trespass damages for continued operation of an oil pipeline after expiration. Andeavor then began renewal negotiations with individual Indian landowners. In 2018, the Allottees filed a putative class action seeking compensatory and punitive damages for ongoing trespass and injunctive relief requiring Andeavor to dismantle the pipeline. The district court granted Andeavor's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Allottees failed to exhaust administrative remedies with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).The Eighth Circuit concluded that the case turns on issues sufficiently within the primary jurisdiction of the BIA to warrant a stay, rather than dismissal, to give the BIA opportunity to take further action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The court denied the Allottees' motion to dismiss Robin Fredericks as a plaintiff. View "Chase v. Andeavor Logistics, L.P." on Justia Law
Bruning v. City of Omaha
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City in an action brought by plaintiffs, challenging its enforcement of the City's zoning regulations against them. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from the City's enforcement of commercial zoning regulations.Even assuming zoning-enforcement decisions are susceptible to class-of-one challenges, the court concluded that plaintiffs have not shown that the City lacked a rational basis for its differential treatment of plaintiffs and other property owners. In this case, plaintiffs have not shown that they are identical or directly comparable to the comparator property owners in every material respect. The court also concluded that plaintiffs did not present sufficient evidence of affirmative misconduct to withstand summary judgment on their equitable-estoppel claim. View "Bruning v. City of Omaha" on Justia Law
David G. Waltrip, LLC v. Sawyers
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy appellate panel's decision upholding the bankruptcy court's order that fully voided Waltrip's judicial lien on debtor's homestead. In this case, after Waltrip filed suit against debtor in October 2016 for breach of contract in Missouri state court, a fire damaged debtor's home. The homeowner's insurance policy paid debtor for damages and Waltrip obtained a consent judgment that gave Waltrip a judicial lien against the homestead property. The parties do not dispute that Waltrip had a valid, avoidable lien that was affixed to debtor's property before she filed her bankruptcy petition. At issue is the extent to which Waltrip's lien impairs debtor's claimed homestead exemption.The court concluded, under Missouri law, that when property is properly exempted under 11 U.S.C. 522, a debtor is the sole owner of the insurance proceeds covering the property. Without any precedent to support Waltrip's position, the court declined to include the amount of the insurance payout when calculating the fair market value of debtor's home on the petition date, and thus the court affirmed the bankruptcy court's ruling using the $3,000 to $6,000 valuation of the unrepaired, fire-damaged property as determined on the petition date. The court also concluded that, because Waltrip's lien is smaller than the extent of the impairment, the entirety of Waltrip's lien can be avoided. Finally, the court concluded that the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in reopening the case to avoid the lien or in denying Waltrip's requests for attorneys' fees and costs related to the reopening. View "David G. Waltrip, LLC v. Sawyers" on Justia Law
Rivera v. Bank of America, N.A.
After BANA canceled the foreclosure sale of plaintiff's residence, he filed an amended complaint alleging claims of wrongful foreclosure, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), and negligent misrepresentation. The district court denied BANA's motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim and denied plaintiff's request for leave to file an amended complaint, entering an order dismissing the case with prejudice.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, construing plaintiff's pro se motion for a temporary restraining order as a petition initiating a civil action against BANA under Missouri law, and determining that plaintiff's conduct throughout the course of litigation amounts to an acknowledgement that his filing before the St. Louis County Circuit Court was both a motion and a petition. The court explained that when the district court dissolved the temporary restraining order, a live case and controversy remained in the form of plaintiff's claims. Therefore, this case is not moot. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's negligent misrepresentation claim for failure to state a claim. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to again amend his complaint. View "Rivera v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law
Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass’n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska
Plaintiffs filed suit against the City, alleging that the Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance violated their constitutional rights, breached their consent decree with the City, and violated the Fair Housing Act. The Ordinance implemented uniform residential rental property registration, and a regular inspection program that is phased in accordance with the history of code violations on each property, requiring all rental properties in the City to register with the Permits and Inspections Division before leasing to tenants. The district court denied a preliminary injunction and dismissed plaintiffs' claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Ordinance does not violate Metro Omaha's constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Applying the Nebraska Supreme Court's rules of construction, the court concluded that the plain text of the Ordinance does not authorize warrantless inspections of properties if consent is withheld. Furthermore, pre-compliance review before inspections does not apply here where inspections are permitted only if there is consent, a warrant, or court order. Finally, by withholding consent, property owners are not subject to criminal liability or prohibited from renting their property.The court also concluded that the Ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The court explained that the Ordinance provides adequate notice of the proscribed conduct and does not lend itself to arbitrary enforcement. The court further concluded that Metro Omaha fails to plausibly plead a breach of the consent decree, and that the Ordinance does not violate the Fair Housing Act. View "Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass'n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska" on Justia Law
Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Specialized, alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing Act (MOSLA). The Eighth Circuit previously held that plaintiff failed to establish an essential element of his claim under RESPA, and remanded the case for further proceedings on his claim under the Minnesota statute. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Specialized.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence that he was injured by Specialized's conduct, and thus did not create a genuine dispute of material fact on an element of his state-law claim. View "Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law
Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. v. EOG Resources, Inc.
Northern filed a quiet-title action in federal court against EOG over a dispute regarding the parties' competing interests in mineral rights in North Dakota. Northern and EOG both lease oil and gas rights, and their lessors litigated a similar matter in state court. The district court found that Northern was in privity with its lessor, holding that the lessors' case barred Northern's claims.The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of EOG's motion to dismiss under principles of res judicata, holding that no privity exists between Northern and its lessor because Northern acquired its lease before the lessors' case. The court applied Gerrity Bakken, LLC v. Oasis Petroleum N. Am., LLC, 915 N.W.2d 677 (N.D. 2018), and held that the privity doctrine cannot be applied if the rights to property were acquired by the person sought to be bound before the adjudication. View "Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. v. EOG Resources, Inc." on Justia Law
Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. v. Nine Point Energy, LLC
After Slawson entered into an oil and gas exploration and production agreement with TPC, TPC's successor-in-interest filed for bankruptcy. Slawson then filed a proof of claim seeking payment, pursuant to the Promote Obligation, on all wells in which TPC's successor-in-interest elects to participate. The bankruptcy court confirmed the reorganization claim, but gave Slawson leave to commence litigation to determine whether the Promote Obligation runs with the land and is therefore not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Slawson then filed a declaratory action against Nine Point, TPC's successor-in-interest after the bankruptcy.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Nine Point and held that the district court did not err in determining that the Promote Obligation is not a covenant running with the land because the obligation to make a payment did not directly benefit the land. The district court also did not err by determining that the obligation was not a real property interest or an equitable servitude under North Dakota law. View "Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. v. Nine Point Energy, LLC" on Justia Law
Rose v. Estate of Joel S. Bernstein
Plaintiff filed suit against her ex-husband’s estate alleging that his life insurance proceeds rightly belong to her. The court held that the district court correctly determined that the Interspousal Agreement and the Final Judgment could not be orally amended. The court explained that, by its plain terms, the Interspousal Agreement requires any modification to be in writing and executed with the same formalities as the agreement. In this case, plaintiff had no proof any oral amendment to the Final Judgment related to the policy. Furthermore, New Jersey law automatically revokes the beneficiary designation on divorce unless the "express terms" of a court order say otherwise. Because plaintiff's affidavit cannot change the express terms of a court order and the court order does not expressly mention the policy, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Rose v. Estate of Joel S. Bernstein" on Justia Law
Keller Farms, Inc. v. Stewart
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's directed verdict and the jury's verdict in favor of appellees in an action involving a dispute between landowners and herbicide damage. The court held that the district court did not err in directing a verdict against Keller Farms on it statutory trespass count. In this case, the district court properly interpreted the Missouri trespass statute to exclude Keller Farm's claim for crop damage, and the district court did not err in determining that Keller Farms had not presented sufficient evidence to make a submissible case for its statutory trespass claim concerning damage to its windbreak and ornamental trees.The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding a warning letter as well as testimony about it under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 because it was unfairly prejudicial; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial on the ground that appellees' closing argument was improper. View "Keller Farms, Inc. v. Stewart" on Justia Law