Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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At issue in this civil forfeiture appeal was whether the district court erred by exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign state's property or abused its discretion by rejecting defendants' statute‐of‐limitations defense sua sponte. The Second Circuit held that the district court had jurisdiction because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not foreclose in rem civil‐forfeiture suits against a foreign state's property. In this case, however, the district court abused its discretion by sua sponte resolving the statute‐of‐limitations issue without providing defendants notice or an opportunity to defend themselves. Finally, an accompanying summary order considered and rejected defendants' additional challenges. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Assa Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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The United States filed a civil action seeking forfeiture of property owned by the claimant. The jury ultimately found for the government and the district court entered judgment ordering forfeiture of the claimants' property. The Second Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by denying the claimants' motion for discovery on their statute-of-limitations defense and erroneously granted the government's motion for summary judgment on the timeliness issue; the district court erroneously denied claimants' motion to suppress by incorrectly concluding that the exclusionary rule's good‐faith exception forgave the warrant's defects and by applying the wrong legal standard for the inevitable‐discovery exception; and the district court abused its discretion in its orders forbidding the former Alavi board members from testifying at trial, allowing the government to play the videotaped Fifth Amendment invocations, and prohibiting the claimants from mounting their preferred defense. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re 650 Fifth Avenue & Related Properties" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting in part and denying in part Pangea's motion for a writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by a divorced couple. Pangea, a judgment creditor of husband, claimed that the district court erred in declining to award it the entirety of the proceeds, arguing that its interest in the property took priority over the interest awarded to wife in a divorce judgment. The court certified the question to the New York Court of Appeals, which held that wife's interest vested upon entry of the divorce judgment and did not render her a judgment creditor of husband. The state court held that legal rights to specific marital property vest upon the judgment of divorce and the dissolution of a marriage involving the division of marital assets does not render one ex‐spouse the creditor of another. Rather, the judgment of divorce was, as the Federal District Court explained, a final settling of accounts' between marital partners with an equitable interest in all marital property. Therefore, C.P.L.R. 5203(a), by its plain terms, has no application here, and Pangea can claim no priority. The court held that this holding was binding and dispositive of the case. View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff sought recovery of a painting by Pablo Picasso that has been in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's possession since 1952, but once belonged to plaintiff's ancestors who sold it in 1938 to a private dealer. Plaintiff alleged that her ancestors sold the painting under duress because they needed funds to flee fascist Italy after having already fled the Nazi regime in their native Germany. The court held that the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016 did not preempt the Met's laches defense and plaintiff's claims were barred by laches. The court held that the delay in this case was unreasonable and the Met has been prejudiced by the more than six decades that have elapsed since the end of World War II. View "Zuckerman v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art" on Justia Law

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Pangea challenged the district court's order granting in part and denying in part the company's motion for writ of execution upon the proceeds from the sale of a property previously owned by appellees. The Second Circuit certified questions of New York law for which no controlling decisions of the New York Court of Appeals exist: (1) If an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to D.R.L. Section 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, is the spouse's interest subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property? (2) If the answer to Question (1) is "no," then: If a settlor creates a trust solely for the purpose of holding title to property for the benefit of himself and another beneficiary, and the settlor retains the unfettered right to revoke the trust, does the settlor remain the absolute owner of the trust property relative to his creditors, or is the trust property conveyed to the beneficiaries? View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an intra‐family dispute over who owns a residential house. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiffs' adverse possession claim where the affirmative complaint did not contain any affirmative facts that plaintiffs did anything that constituted a distinct assertion of a right hostile to defendants. However, with regard to the constructive trust claim, the court held that there may be a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether an implied promise was made and as to whether defendants' refusal to honor this promise unjustly enriched them. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jaffer v. Hirji" on Justia Law