Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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Jatera filed suit against the Bank and SPS in state court, seeking a judgment declaring the lien on the property at issue void because defendants failed to initiate foreclosure proceedings within the four-year statute of limitations. After removal to federal district court, the district court held that the homeowner lacked standing as a plaintiff because she no longer retained an interest in the property. The district court also concluded that detrimental reliance runs to the benefit of the party asserting it, and Jatera had failed to show it detrimentally relied on the acceleration notice. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Jatera's motion for summary judgment and granted defendants' summary judgment motion. The court held that detrimental reliance was not an exception to the lender's right to unilaterally withdraw an acceleration notice under Texas law. Therefore, in this case, the court need not determine whether there was such reliance, including whether Jatera was assigned the homeowner's detrimental-reliance claim, or whether the homeowner suffered such reliance. View "Jatera Corp. v. US Bank National Assoc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing, withdrew the prior opinion, and substituted the following opinion. The court reversed the breach of contract claim and held that there was ambiguity in a mortgage contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. In this case, plaintiff was entitled to proceed to trial on his claim that Ocwen breached the contract by paying his 2010 taxes before they became delinquent. Furthermore, the district court erred as a matter of law by determining that Ocwen had provided contractually adequate notice of its revocation of the Waiver Agreement. The court affirmed the district court's summary judgment for Ocwen in plaintiff's unclean hands cause of action, which was mislabeled as an affirmative defense. Because it was premature to conclude that Ocwen was entitled to summary judgment on its foreclosure counterclaim, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Ocwen on plaintiff's Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) claim and Texas Debt Collection Practices Act (TDCPA) claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this action involving a Texas mortgage dispute, the Fifth Circuit held that there was ambiguity in the contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. The court noted that, at this stage, it was premature to conclude that defendants were entitled to their foreclosure counterclaim. Therefore, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act claim, and the district court's judgment on the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim that the bank was vicariously liable for the failure of the bank's loan servicer to comply with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The court held that plaintiff did not plead an agency relationship between the bank and the loan servicer, an essential element of a vicarious liability claim. Furthermore, even if the bank had an agency relationship with the loan servicer, the bank cannot be held vicariously liable, as a matter of law, for the servicer's alleged RESPA violations. View "Christiana Trust v. Riddle" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for HSBC in an action seeking to foreclose on defendant's property. The court held that HSBC was the holder of the home equity note and that defendant failed to present evidence raising an issue of material fact as to HSBC's ownership of the note. The court also held that HSBC's suit was timely because defendant's bankruptcy suit tolled the statute of limitations for 127 days. Finally, the court held that defendant waived his argument that the district court erred when it signed and entered a final judgment that authorized a foreclosure sale of the property, without complying with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 309. View "HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Crum" on Justia Law

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After the magistrate judge concluded, on remand, that defendants met the remaining requirements to foreclose on their mortgage under Texas law, the Fifth Circuit reversed and rendered judgment in favor of Deutsche Bank. The court held that the magistrate judge defied a previous mandate and contravened the law of the case doctrine by concluding that the court's prior opinion was clearly erroneous and that failure to correct the error would result in manifest injustice. In this case, the magistrate judge found no impediment to foreclosure other than a supposed defect in the assignment, and any such imperfection did not change the fact that MERS and its successors and assigns were entitled to foreclose on defendants' property. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Burke" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of claimants' motion to release property under civil forfeiture law. The property at issue stemmed from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids that were a controlled substance or controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption. Determining that the court had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that, assuming arguendo, Supplemental Rule G(2)(f) applied in reviewing pretrial property restraints outside the motion-to-dismiss context, the district court used the right standard. In this case, the district asked whether the government's complaint "demonstrated with sufficient particularity for the current stage of the proceedings that defendants intentionally commingled tainted funds with untainted funds for the purpose of facilitating the alleged money laundering.” The court held that the facts here were sufficient to support this standard. The court also held that probable cause for forfeiture existed based on the charge for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. View "United States v. $472,871.95 in Funds Seized" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in an action brought by a landowner against the City over the City's use of his residential property to drain and filter storm-sewer runoff. The court held that there were disputed factual issues as to whether the City had an easement over the landowner's land and he was entitled to a declaratory judgment and monetary damages. The court also held that, even if the City has an easement, there was a disputed factual issue regarding whether the City must accommodate the landowner's use of his property by installing subsurface drain pipes as it has done elsewhere in the City. The court held that the landowner's Fifth Amendment takings claim was time-barred and affirmed the district court's judgment as to this claim. View "Redburn v. City of Victoria" on Justia Law

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The city owned land and a townhome in New Orleans after 1998; its previous owner, Jett, neglected to pay his taxes. Notwithstanding its recorded ownership, the city instituted Code Enforcement proceedings against Jett in 2012. The Garretts purchased the property on October 2, 2015, and recorded the conveyance on October 14. They claim that the building was structurally sound. The city continued to pursue Jett. An administrative judgment was entered on October 30, ordering Jett to pay fines and warning that the building could be demolished. A lien was recorded on December 7. The Garretts were not named and received no notice. On January 15, 2016, their realtor noticed a sign advising upcoming demolition of the property. They contacted the city, which canceled the lien. E-mail exchanges indicated that the Garretts intended to resolve all code issues. On January 27, the city demolished the townhouse. Denying the Garretts' request for compensation, the city sent a bill for the demolition costs. They did not appeal but filed suit alleging denial of due process and just compensation. The district court dismissed the claim as jurisdictionally unripe because they failed to seek compensation in state court. The Fifth Circuit vacated, finding the due process claim, predicated on lack of notice and a hearing, ripe, given the uncertainty of remedies in a state court inverse condemnation suit. The court concluded that the other claims were ripe or would be best resolved in the same suit. View "Archbold-Garrett v. New Orleans City" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Wilmington Trust, holding that the lender was not entitled to foreclosure because it failed to prove that it provided adequate notice of intent to accelerate. The court held that Texas common law imposes notice requirements before acceleration that is clear and unequivocal. In this case, Wilmington Trust failed to meet its burden to show clear and unequivocal notice of intent to accelerate prior to filing suit. View "Wilmington Trust, N.A. v. Rob" on Justia Law