Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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In this dispute over an award of attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988, the First Circuit identified only one defect in the award, thus vacating the existing fee award in the amount of $20,243 and remanding to the district court to enter a modified fee award in the amount of $18,218, holding that the district court abused its discretion in part.The underlying case revolved around a parcel of real property in Puerto Rico formerly owned by Plaintiff. Defendants, including the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, moved for summary judgment for Plaintiff's failure to seek just compensation in the Puerto Rico courts before raising a federal takings claim. The district court granted the motion. As to attorney's fees, the district court found that the federal takings claim was frivolous and awarded payment of fees in the amount of $20,243. The First Circuit vacated the award, holding that the time expended in connection with a non-frivolous supplemental tort claim should have been deducted from the fee award. View "Efron v. Mora Development Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island granting summary judgment in favor of Chicago Title Insurance Company (CTIC) and dismissing this suit brought under Rhode Island law by IDC Properties Inc., holding that summary judgment in some respects was erroneously entered.In this real property dispute, Plaintiffs filed suit against IDC in Rhode Island state court, alleging violations of the Rhode Island Condominium Act. The state court granted partial summary judgment to Plaintiffs, which judgment extended to all counts relevant to this appeal. After the state Supreme Court affirmed, IDC submitted a claim to CTIC, its title insurer, seeking coverage under the relevant policy for the loss of IDC's title and interest in the real property as a result of the previous litigation. CTIC denied coverage. IDC then brought this action. The district court granted summary judgment for CTIC. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment with respect to two of the three units at issue; but (2) did not err in granting CTIC's motion in limine to exclude IDC's original expert report insofar as it succeeded in overturning the district court's grant of summary judgment. View "IDC Properties, Inc. v. Chicago Title Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant Thomas Wakefield and dismissing Plaintiff Pleasantdale Condominiums LLC's claims alleging nondisclosure of material information under a Maine statute, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.After it purchased an apartment complex Plaintiff sued Defendant, the seller, alleging claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Both counts were based on the alleged violation of Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 33, 173(5). The district court concluded that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment on both counts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claim for fraud in the nature of active concealment. View "Pleasantdale Condominiums, LLC v. Wakefield" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in this mortgage dispute, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' motion to defer the adjudication of a pending motion for summary judgment and proceeding to grant summary judgment.At is on appeal in this dispute that stretched over more than a decade and implicated several lawsuits was whether the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' motion for discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) and then granting summary judgment against them. The First Circuit answered the question in the affirmative, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' Rule 56(d) motion in its totality. The Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Emigrant Residential LLC v. Pinti" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Acadia Insurance Company in this action brought by Railroad Avenue Properties, LLC for breach contract to recover additional insurance proceeds for property damage sustained from a fire at one of Railroad's commercial buildings, holding that there was no error.Although Acadia insured the building at issue and paid Railroad for damages arising out of the fire Railroad claimed that it was entitled to additional payment under the terms the insurance policy in the form of a depreciation holdback and code upgrade coverage. The district court granted summary judgment for Acadia. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Railroad was not entitled to relief on any of its allegations of error. View "Railroad Avenue Properties, LLC v. Acadia Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this climate-change case, the First Circuit once more affirmed the order of the federal district court allowing Rhode Island's motion to return to state court its state court complaint against oil and gas companies for damages caused by fossil fuels, holding that Rhode Island's complaint did not give rise to federal removal jurisdiction.Rhode Island originally brought this complaint in state court, alleging state-law causes of action for, inter alia, public nuisance. After the energy companies removed the case to federal district court Rhode Island moved for the case to be remanded to state court. The district court granted the motion and ordered the case remanded to state court. The First Circuit affirmed the remand order. On certiorari, the Supreme Court instructed that the First Circuit give further consideration in light of recent caselaw. The First Circuit received supplemental briefs and then affirmed once more the judge's remand order, holding that removal based on federal-question jurisdiction and on other jurisdictional and removal statutes was not proper. View "State of Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico dismissing without prejudice this collection and foreclosure action that VS PR, a limited liability corporation, brought against several defendants, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.In a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, Defendants argued that VS PR had not established that complete diversity between the parties existed as required by 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(1). The district court denied the motion to dismiss without prejudice. VS PR later filed a motion to dismiss the complaint voluntarily pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2). The district court granted the motion for voluntary dismissal and dismissed the action without prejudice. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Rule 41(a) requires that an action must be dismissed with prejudice following a voluntary dismissal pursuant to a court order only when the court order so provides. View "VS PR, LLC v. ORC Miramar Corp." on Justia Law

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In this action brought for the nonpayment of a promissory note the First Circuit affirmed the rulings of the district court entering summary judgment against SBK Holdings USA, Inc. and denying SBK's motion to set aside the judgment, holding that there was no error.Unibank for Savings sued Edgar and Elina Sargsyan and 999 Private Jet, LLC based on their nonpayment of a promissory note secured by a Gulfstream aircraft. The district court granted Unibank's unopposed motion for a preliminary injunction authorizing it to repossess the aircraft. SBK subsequently moved to intervene, asserting an alleged superior security interest in the aircraft. The district court allowed the intervention. The district court entered summary judgment against SBK and denied its subsequent motion to set aside the judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Unibank held a perfected security interest in the aircraft, while SKB did not. View "UniBank for Savings v. SBK Holdings USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for fraud, civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment, holding that Plaintiff failed to make a sufficient showing on essential elements of her case.In 2014, Plaintiff sold her special limited partnership interests in an affordable housing property for $1.5 million. In 2016, the property sold for $11.7 million. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit alleging claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that she was fraudulently led to believe that Defendant had power over the property and would block any attempt to sell or refinance it. The district court entered summary judgment for Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant intentionally misrepresented the value of the property and Plaintiff's special interest; and (2) Plaintiff's remaining causes of action were unsuccessful in the absence of wrongdoing or foreseeable damages. View "Katz v. Belveron Real Estate Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing a relator's qui tam action brought under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729 through 3733, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the action.At issue before the First Circuit was the function of the hearing provided by statute when the government files a motion to dismiss a relator's FCA qui tam action over the relator's objections. The Court held (1) the government must provide its reasons for seeking dismissal such that the relator can attempt to convince the government to withdraw its motion at the hearing; (2) if the government does not agree to withdraw its motion, the district court should grant the motion unless the relator can show that, in seeking dismissal, the government is transgressing constitutional limitations or perpetrating a fraud on the court; and (3) the district court properly granted the government's motion to dismiss this case. View "Borzilleri v. Bayer AG" on Justia Law