Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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This case arises from the parties' dispute concerning a construction project to expand the Manhattan Village Shopping Center in Manhattan Beach, California. The parties' predecessors executed the Construction, Operation and Reciprocal Easement Agreement (the COREA) in 1980. The parties resolved disputes in a Settlement Agreement in 2008 where, under the terms of the settlement agreement, RREEF agreed not to oppose Hacienda's plan to convert office space into restaurants and Hacienda agreed not to oppose RREEF's expansion project subject to certain limitations in the Agreement. At issue is RREEF's project.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the nuisance claim and reversed the district court as to the remaining claims. In regard to the claim for breach of contract, the panel concluded that RREEF has discretion to pursue the project and alter the site plan, and Hacienda's objections to the city are limited to RREEF's material changes. That RREEF has discretion to revise the site plan does not mean that Hacienda gave up its rights under the COREA, especially considering that the Settlement Agreement, by its own terms, does not amend the COREA. In regard to the claim for interference with easement rights, the panel concluded that the Settlement Agreement does not extinguish plaintiffs' easement rights under the COREA, and the district court erred in holding otherwise. In regard to the claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the panel concluded that plaintiffs have presented sufficient evidence to raise a triable issue as to whether RREEF's construction of the North Deck was contrary to "the contract's purposes and the parties' legitimate expectations." In regard to the claim for interference with business and contractual relations, the panel concluded that plaintiffs have raised triable issues concerning whether defendants' construction interfered with Hacienda's tenant contracts, and whether defendants acted with the knowledge that "interference is certain or substantially certain to occur as a result of [their] action."The panel also reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to plaintiffs' request for declaratory relief. In regard to RREEF's counterclaims, the panel concluded that policy considerations weighed against applying the litigation privilege. Finally, the panel concluded that the attorneys' fee question was moot and vacated the district court's order denying the parties' motions for attorneys' fees. View "3500 Sepulveda, LLC v. RREEF America REIT II Corp. BBB" on Justia Law

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Nevada Revised Statutes section 116.3116 gives a homeowners association (HOA) a superpriority lien on properties within the association for certain unpaid assessments. By foreclosing on a property, an HOA can extinguish other liens, including a first deed of trust held by a mortgage lender. The Ninth Circuit held that this scheme does not effect an uncompensated taking of property or violates the Due Process Clause.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, based on failure to state a claim, of Wells Fargo's quiet title action against the purchaser of real property at a foreclosure sale, an HOA, and the HOA's agent. In this case, because the enactment of section 116.3116 predated the creation of Wells Fargo's lien on the property, Wells Fargo cannot establish that it suffered an uncompensated taking. The panel also agreed with the district court's conclusion that Wells Fargo received constitutionally adequate notice of the foreclosure sale. Finally, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Wells Fargo's motion for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), because Wells Fargo failed to raise its arguments earlier where the evidence on which it relied was theoretically available when it filed its first response to the motion to dismiss. View "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Mahogany Meadows Avenue Trust" on Justia Law

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In 2005-2007, the borrowers obtained residential home mortgages on California properties. California law would normally have entitled them to “at least 2 percent simple interest per annum” on any funds held in escrow, California Civil Code Section 2954.8. The lender, a federal savings association organized and regulated under the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 (HOLA), 12 U.S.C. 1461, did not pay interest because HOLA preempts California law. In a suit against the lender’s successor, Chase, a national bank organized and regulated under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 38, the district court denied the lender’s motion to dismiss; the Ninth Circuit has held that there is no “conflict preemption” between the National Bank Act and the California law.The Ninth Circuit reversed. HOLA field preemption principles applied to the claims against Chase even though its conduct giving rise to the complaint occurred after it acquired the loans in question. Because California’s interest-on-escrow law imposed a requirement regarding escrow accounts; affected the terms of sale, purchase, investment in, and participation in loans originated by savings associations; and had more than an incidental effect on the lending operations of savings associations, it was preempted by 12 C.F.R. 560.2(b)(6) and (b)(10), and 560.2(c). View "McShannock v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA" on Justia Law

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Nanouk uses her 160-acre Alaska Native allotment for traditional subsistence activities. In the 1980s, Nanouk built a small cabin, which she and her family reached by using a trail that runs from the main road through the U.S. Air Force North River Radio Relay Station, which closed in 1978. In 1981, the General Accounting Office criticized the Air Force’s failure to maintain shuttered sites, including North River, which contained hazardous chemicals. The Air Force and the Army Corps of Engineers began remediation, removing 500 gallons of transformer oil containing PCBs and PCB-contaminated soil. Surveys taken in 1987 and 1989 revealed that 6,700 cubic yards of contaminated soil remained. The Air Force and the Corps released a new plan in 2001; clean-up resumed. The trail that Nanouk used ran through a “hot spot” where PCB-contaminated soil was picked up by her vehicles. Nanouk did not learn about the PCBs on her property until 2003 when she reported a strong chemical odor. The Air Force then undertook extensive environmental remediation at the Station and Nanouk’s allotment. Nanouk sued, alleging trespass and nuisance. She and several family members have experienced serious health problems.The Ninth Circuit vacated the dismissal of her suit. The Federal Tort Claims Act's discretionary exception barred claims predicated on two of the acts she challenged as negligent--the government’s alleged failure to supervise contractors during the Station’s operation, and its abandonment of the property between the 1978 closure and 1990. The government did not establish that the exception barred the claims relating to the failure to identify and remediate the hot spot in a timely manner after 1990. View "Nanouk v. United States" on Justia Law

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The City of Oakland filed suit alleging that Wells Fargo engaged in discriminatory lending practices by issuing predatory loans to its Black and Latino residents in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA). On appeal, Wells Fargo challenged the district court's partial denial of its motion to dismiss the City's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).In Bank of Am. Corp. v. City of Miami (Miami I), 137 S. Ct. 1296, 1306 (2017), the Supreme Court held that to establish proximate cause under the FHA, a plaintiff must do more than show that its injuries foreseeably flowed from the alleged statutory violation. Rather, some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged is required. Pursuant to Miami I, the Ninth Circuit held, after reviewing the FHA's text and legislative history, that Congress clearly intended the nature of the statutory cause of action at issue in this case to be broad and inclusive enough to encompass less direct, aggregate, and city-wide injuries. Furthermore, all three of the Holmes factors support the panel's conclusion that it is administratively feasible for the district court to administer the aggregate, city-wide injuries that the City claims it suffered as a result of Wells Fargo's unlawful discriminatory lending practices throughout the City.The panel held that the allegations in the amended complaint are sufficient to plead that Oakland's reduced property-tax revenues, but not its increased municipal expenses, are proximately caused by Wells Fargo's discriminatory lending practices. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's denial of Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss as to the City's claims for lost property-tax revenues and the district court's grant of Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss as to Oakland's claims for increased municipal expenses. The panel also held that the FHA's proximate-cause requirement applies to claims for injunctive or declaratory relief. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's denial of Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss as to the City's claims seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Oakland v. Wells Fargo & Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying claimant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for lack of proper venue a civil forfeiture case. This case arose from claimant's shares of stock in Palantir Technologies, a corporation with its principal place of business in California. Petitioner is a citizen of Saudi Arabia who wired $2 million from his account in Switzerland to a bank in California to purchase 2,500,000 shares of Series D preferred stock in Palantir. In this case, the government filed an in rem civil forfeiture action against claimant's Palantir shares, alleging that the shares were forfeitable because they were derived from proceeds traceable to a wire fraud and money laundering scheme.The panel held that the Supreme Court's decision in Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. v. Hood, 541 U.S. 440 (2004), supports the panel's conclusion that the district court did not err when it determined that the constitutional due process requirements set forth in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), were inapplicable to this in rem action. The Supreme Court's decision in Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977), addressed quasi-in-rem actions rather than in rem actions directed solely toward a res instead of property seized as a substitute for the defendant. The panel explained that in an in rem action, the focus for the jurisdictional inquiry is the res, in this case claimant's Palantir shares, rather than claimant's personal contacts with the forum. The panel also held that venue was proper because sufficient acts giving rise to the civil forfeiture occurred in the Central District. View "United States v. Obaid" on Justia Law

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A request for judicial relief under Nevada's Foreclosure Mediation Rules is the exclusive remedy under Nevada law for challenging a lender's conduct in the foreclosure mediation process.Plaintiffs filed suit alleging contractual and tortious breaches of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against BNYM and its agents, Sables and Bayview. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that plaintiffs' claims rest on defendants' asserted failure to comply with the various requirements of the foreclosure mediation program, and these claims could have been raised in a timely request for review under the Foreclosure Mediation Rules. The panel explained that plaintiffs' exclusive remedy under Nevada law for addressing these deficiencies was a timely request for judicial review filed within the applicable 10-day period set forth in Nevada F.M.R. 20(2). Therefore, the district court correctly held that plaintiffs' state common-law claims and related requests for declaratory and injunctive relief failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Tobler v. Sables, LLC" on Justia Law

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A judicial foreclosure proceeding is not a form of debt collection when the proceeding does not include a request for a deficiency judgment or some other effort to recover the remaining debt. If a foreclosure plaintiff seeks not only to foreclose on the property but also to recover the remainder of the debt through a deficiency judgment, then the plaintiff is attempting to collect a debt within the meaning of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). But if the plaintiff is simply enforcing a security interest by retaking or forcing a sale of the property, without regard to any additional debt that may be owed, then the FDCPA does not apply.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act over a judicial foreclosure proceeding in Oregon. The panel held that plaintiff pleaded no conduct by the defendants beyond the filing of a foreclosure complaint and actions to effectuate that proceeding. View "Barnes v. Routh Crabtree Olsen PC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Freddie Mac and M&T in a quiet title action over a foreclosed property in Nevada. At issue was whether a first deed of trust in favor of Freddie Mac, which had been placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), survived a non-judicial foreclosure sale of a Nevada residential property to satisfy an HOA superpriority lien. The panel held, and the parties agree, that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) statute of limitations, 12 U.S.C. 4617(b)(12)(A), controls.The panel held that, under 12 U.S.C. 4617(b)(12), a quiet title action is a "contract" claim that is subject to a statute of limitations of at least six years; Freddie Mac and M&T Bank timely filed their quiet title action within six years of the foreclosure sale; and Freddie Mac's deed of trust, which had been placed under the conservatorship of FHFA, survived a non-judicial foreclosure sale of a Nevada residential property to satisfy a homeowners association superpriority lien. The panel also held that, although Freddie Mac and the Bank were not assignees of the FHFA, Freddie Mac was under the FHFA conservatorship, and the FHFA thus had all the rights of Freddie Mac with respect to its assets. Furthermore, although there was no contract between the purchaser and plaintiffs, the quiet title claims were entirely "dependent" upon Freddie Mac's lien on the property, an interest created by contract. View "M&T Bank v. SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC" on Justia Law

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Citi filed suit against Corte Madera Homeowners Association for wrongful foreclosure, breach of the statutory duty of good faith by Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.1113, and quiet title. Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3116(1) allows HOAs to pursue liens on members' homes for unpaid assessments and charges. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling regarding the adequacy of the lender's tender, holding that BANA's offer did not constitute valid tender. The panel held that 7510 Perla Del Mar Ave Tr. v. Bank of America, N.A., 458 P.3d 348, 350-51 (Nev. 2020) (en banc) -- which held that a mere offer to pay at a later time, after the superpriority amount was determined, does not constitute a valid tender -- did not alter the validity of Citi's tender because BANA insisted on the same condition that Perla Del Mar prohibited. The panel held that the district court did not err when it concluded that Citi was obligated to satisfy the superpriority portion of the lien in order to protect its interest. Furthermore, the district court did not err by observing that Citi's offer to pay nine months' assessments was not the equivalent of an offer to pay the superpriority portion of Corte Madera's lien. Therefore, in light of Perla Del Mar, the district court did not err by ruling that Citi's tender was impermissibly conditional. The panel rejected Citi's alternative arguments. However, the panel remanded for reconsideration of the complaint's allegation that Corte Madera's foreclosure notices violated the homeowner's bankruptcy stay. View "CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Corte Madera Homeowners Ass'n" on Justia Law