Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
by
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging two policies related to the provision of basic utility services from the City on the ground that the policies have a disproportionate impact on black and Hispanic residents. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that section 3604(b) of the Fair Housing Act is unambiguous and reaches certain post-acquisition conduct, including post-acquisition conduct related to the provision of services. The panel held that a service within the meaning of section 3604(b) must be a housing-related service that is directly connected to the sale or rental of a dwelling, and the water, gas, and electricity services at issue here fall within the scope of section 3604(b). Finally, the court rejected the City's argument that it is not a housing provider subject to section 3604(b), and held that section 3604(b) does not limit its applicability in such a manner and the court's case law has never held that only housing providers are subject to liability thereunder. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. City of LaGrange" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Habitat for Humanity under the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which prohibits an entity from discriminating against a disabled individual by failing to make reasonable accommodations in policies and practices that are necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Plaintiff also alleged that Habitat's minimum-income requirement has a disparate impact on disabled individuals receiving social-security-disability income. The Eleventh Circuit held that a court must first consider whether a plaintiff has shown that a requested accommodation is facially reasonable and then whether a defendant has demonstrated that the accommodation would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration to its program or policy; a plaintiff's financial state in any particular case could be unrelated, correlated, or causally related to his disability and that, in some cases, an accommodation with a financial aspect—even one that appears to provide a preference—could be necessary to afford an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling within the meaning of the Act; and plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Habitat's minimum-income requirement disproportionately excludes SSDI recipients. Accordingly, the court affirmed the disparate-impact claim, but vacated the failure-to-accommodate claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Schaw v. Habitat for Humanity of Citrus County, Inc." on Justia Law

by
A class of condo owners and Q Club, the entity that operates the condominium-hotel, dispute the meaning of the "Declaration" that governs the parties' relationship. The owners alleged that Q Club's new methodology used to calculate the shared costs breached the Declaration as applied both retroactively and prospectively. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly concluded that the Declaration does not permit back-charging; the district court did not reversibly err in submitting the shared costs issue to the jury or in the way that it instructed the jury; and plaintiff has not met his burden for requesting a new trial because the new evidence would not likely produce a different result. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Dear v. Q Club Hotel, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), alleging that RoundPoint's motion to reschedule a foreclosure sale (as opposed to canceling it altogether) violated 12 C.F.R. 1024.41(g) of Regulation X. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's case and held that a motion to reschedule a previously ordered foreclosure sale is not a motion for order of sale. In this case, RoundPoint moved only to reschedule the foreclosure sale and thus RoundPoint did not violate Regulation X. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff failed to state a claim under section 1024.41(g) and that her claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also failed. View "Landau v. Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corp." on Justia Law

by
Fla. Stat. 95.231, which operates to cure certain defective deeds after the passage of five years, applies to a parcel on which the United States has asserted a federal estate-tax lien. The Eleventh Circuit held that section 95.231(1) cured the deed by operation of law in December 2003, and the property was at that point validly transferred to the trust. Furthermore, the court held that United States v. Summerlin, 310 U.S. 414, 416 (1940), was inapplicable here because, by the time the United States asserted its tax lien, the property no longer remained in the estate. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the United States' foreclosure claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Saccullo v. United States" on Justia Law

by
In these consolidated cases, plaintiffs alleged that their mortgage servicers, SLS and Caliber, breached plaintiffs' loan contracts, as well as an implied coverage of good faith and fair dealing, by charging inflated amounts for force-placed insurance. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the cases under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, holding that the filed-rate doctrine applied because plaintiffs challenged a rate filed with regulators. Therefore, plaintiffs' claims were barred because the filed-rate doctrine precluded any judicial action which undermined agency rate-making authority. View "Patel v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

by
12 U.S.C. 1715z-20(j) can not be read to prevent foreclosure pursuant to a reverse-mortgage contract that, by its terms, permits the lender to demand repayment immediately following a borrower's death, even if his or her non-borrowing spouse continues to live in the mortgaged property. The Eleventh Circuit held that the statute addressed and limited only the Secretary's authority—specifying the types of mortgages that HUD "may not insure"—and thus did not alter or affect the rights that a lender independently possessed under a reverse-mortgage contract. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of Live Well's motion to dismiss because, even if HUD should not have insured the mortgage at issue, section 1715z-20(j) did not alter or limit Live Well's right to foreclose under the terms of its valid mortgage contract. View "The Estate of Caldwell Jones, Jr. v. Live Well Financial, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motion for a new trial filed by American Home Mortgage Servicing, now known as Homeward, the defendant in this action brought by Jane McGinnis alleging, among other claims, wrongful foreclosure, holding that Homeward was not entitled to relief on its claims of error related to the jury’s punitive damages award. McGinnis, the owner of several rental properties, brought this action against Homeward, the servicer of seven of her properties’ mortgages, alleging wrongful foreclosure, conversion, interference with property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury found in favor of McGinnis on all claims and awarded $3,506,000 in damages, including $3,000,000 in punitive damages. In this appeal, Homeward argued that the punitive damages award was unconstitutionally excessive under the Due Process Clause and that the punitive damages award exceeded Georgia’s $250,000 cap on punitive damages. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the punitive damages award was not unconstitutionally excessive; and (2) the punitive damages award did not unlawfully exceed the $250,000 statutory cap in O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1(g) because there was no evidence from which a jury could conclude that it acted with the specific intent to harm McGinnis. View "McGinnis v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc." on Justia Law

by
At issue in this appeal was whether a conservation restriction imposed in 2013 on a property owned by the Frank Sawyer Revocable Trust restarted the 12-year statute of limitations of the Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so that NE 32nd Street, LLC, as agent for the trust, can sue to extinguish a spoilage easement granted to the federal government in 1938. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint and held that the statute of limitations barred a challenge to the 80 year old easement and the 2013 permit did not change the terms of that easement to the detriment of the trust. View "NE 32nd Street, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit against the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and Petroquimica de Venezuela, S.A., alleging unlawful expropriation of their property in violation of international law. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied their motion for leave nunc pro tunc to file an amended complaint. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court issued Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al. v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co., 137 S. Ct. 1312 (2017), which detailed the showing that plaintiffs such as the ones in this case must make in order to have jurisdiction over a foreign state in United States courts under the expropriation (i.e., takings) exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court remanded for the district court to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and, after defendants have responded, to address whether the domestic takings rule applied and whether jurisdiction existed under the FSIA's expropriation exception. View "Comparelli v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law