Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by BMG Monroe I, LLC. BMG, a developer, had sued the Village of Monroe, New York, alleging that the Village's denial of its applications for building permits on five lots violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause due to a discriminatory animus towards the Hasidic Jewish community. The Village denied the applications due to non-compliance with the architectural criteria established in the Smith Farm Project's approval conditions. The Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the claims were unripe because BMG had not exhausted its administrative remedies. In order to satisfy the finality requirement under ripeness doctrine, BMG needed to appeal the adverse planning-board decision to a zoning board of appeals and submit at least one meaningful application for a variance. BMG could not claim that further actions were futile based on the Village's indication that it would likely not be receptive to a variance request that had yet to be made. View "BMG Monroe I, LLC v. Village of Monroe" on Justia Law

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland (ABY) sued the Town of Clarkstown, George Hoehmann, CUPON Inc., and Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods of Greater Nanuet Inc. ABY, a religious educational institution, planned to purchase property in Clarkstown, New York, to establish an Orthodox Jewish school. It alleged that the Defendants manipulated an ostensibly neutral building permit application and zoning appeals process to block this construction. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that ABY's religious discrimination and civil rights claims were not ripe as it had not received a final decision from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and that the lost-contract injury underpinning ABY’s tortious interference claim was not traceable to the Town Defendants.In this appeal, the Second Circuit disagreed with the district court. The Second Circuit found that the ZBA's refusal to adjudicate ABY's appeal of its permit application constituted a final decision for ripeness purposes. The court also determined that ABY had plausibly alleged a causal connection between the Town Defendants’ actions and the injuries resulting from ABY's lost contract with Grace Church. Therefore, the Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland v. Town of Clarkstoawn" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff NexPoint holds $7.5 million in subordinated notes issued by Acis CLO-2015-6 Ltd. (the “Issuer”), as part of a CLO. The Issuer acquired the CLO collateral and conveyed it to a trust under an indenture between the Issuer and U.S. Bank National Association as Trustee (the “Indenture”). Defendant-appellee Acis Capital Management, L.P. (“Acis”) was engaged as the CLO’s portfolio manager pursuant to a Portfolio Management Agreement between the Issuer and Acis (the “PMA”). NexPoint claims that Acis, Terry, and Brigade (together, the “Advisers”) maximized their own profits at the expense of the CLO in violation of fiduciary duties imposed by Section 206 of the IAA. The district court concluded that NexPoint failed to state a claim under Section 215(b). NexPoint appealed, arguing that the District Court erred in limiting Section 215(b)’s application to contracts that require illegal performance, as opposed to lawful contracts performed in an unlawful manner.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that under Section 215(b), a contract’s performance involves the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires conduct prohibited by the IAA. No such unlawful conduct is required by the contracts NexPoint seeks to rescind. The court further explained that the text and structure of the IAA, interpreted with the benefit of TAMA, Oxford, and other precedent, make clear that a contract’s performance “involves” the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. NexPoint does not seek rescission of any contract requiring a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. View "NexPoint Diversified Real Est. Tr. v. Acis Cap. Mgmt., L.P." on Justia Law

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The case presents an apparently unresolved question in the Second Circuit: whether a district court’s order granting a purportedly final judgment on a noteholder’s claims seeking (1) foreclosure on a mortgage, (2) foreclosure on a security interest in real property and (3) possession of said real property is an appealable final judgment – even though the order also refers the case to a magistrate judge to calculate the amount of the judgment of foreclosure and sale. The district court struck the Borrower’s and Guarantors’ affirmative defenses, granted the motion for summary judgment on the Foreclosure Claims, and granted the motion to sever the Guaranty Claim in an opinion and order dated December 2, 2021. On appeal, the Borrower contends that the district court improperly struck certain affirmative defenses prior to entering summary judgment for the Noteholder on the Foreclosure Claims.   The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal. The court concluded that such a judgment is not, in fact “final” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. Section 1291 and that no other basis for appellate jurisdiction exist. The court explained that the district court did not certify its judgment as final and appealable under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) in its December 2, 2021, Order and Judgment. And even if it did, the Court would have to “consider for itself whether the judgment satisfies the requirements of that rule.” View "RSS WFCM2018-C44 - NY LOD, LLC v. 1442 Lexington Operating DE LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are individuals who own apartment buildings in New York City that are subject to the relevant Rent Stabilization Law (RSL). Plaintiffs appeal from a judgment of the district court dismissing their complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order rejecting Plaintiffs' contention that the New York Rent Stabilization Law was unconstitutional, both facially and as applied. The court held that Plaintiffs did not establish that application of the RSL resulted in a physical taking. The court also held that the RSL did not "go to far" in determining how private landowners can use their property. The court went on to reject Plaintiff's as-applied challenges to the RSL. View "74 Pinehurst LLC v. State of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Seneca Nation brought a lawsuit seeking relief from New York State, the New York Thruway Authority, and the Thruway Authority’s Executive Director (collectively “Defendants”) for ongoing use of an invalid easement over its tribal land. Defendants appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss. Defendants contend that the Nation is collaterally estopped from bringing this present action based on a 2004 judgment of this court and that this lawsuit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Seneca Nation does not assert property rights over land to which New York State has traditionally held the title and does not seek a declaration that the State’s laws and regulations do not apply to the area in dispute. Therefore, the quiet title exception to Ex parte Young outlined by the Court in Coeur d’Alene Tribe has no application here. Accordingly, the lawsuit falls under the Ex parte Young exception to the Eleventh Amendment. Thus, neither collateral estoppel nor the Eleventh Amendment bars the Nation from proceeding in this case. View "Seneca Nation v. Hochul" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from a district court judgment granting Defendants’ motion to dismiss her complaint. n relevant part, the district court found wanting her claims for fraud in the enforcement of a mortgage; fraud upon the court; collusion and deceit upon the court in violation of New York State Judiciary Law Section 487; and negligence. It explained that it was precluded by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine from adjudicating all of Plaintiff’s claims, and that, in any event, principles of res judicata and estoppel barred her from pursuing these claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed in part the district court’s judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s fraud and negligence claims against the Attorney Defendants and vacated in part the dismissal of her claims under New York Judiciary Law Section 487. The court concluded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not require the dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims; that res judicata does not bar her claims, and that collateral estoppel bars her fraud and negligence claims, but not her section 487 claim for deceit upon the court View "Hansen v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Village Green at Sayville, LLC sued the Town of Islip, its Town Board, its Planning Board, and the members of the Town and Planning Boards, alleging that a pattern of racial, ethnic, and national origin discrimination by Defendants stifled Village Green’s effort to build an affordable apartment complex in Sayville, a hamlet in Islip. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Village Green’s land-use claims were not ripe under the framework established by Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172 (1985).The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s ruling. In addressing only the narrow issue of ripeness, the court explained that federal suits in the land-use context, like this one, are generally not ripe for adjudication until a landowner receives a final, definitive decision on a land-use application. The court wrote that it need not speculate why the Town Board would decide to deny the application without a formal vote and forswear further public proceedings. However, taking as true the material factual allegations in the complaint such a decision was made. If a dispute can ripen when a municipal entity uses “repetitive and unfair procedures” to avoid a final decision, it surely ripens when, as here, the entity makes plain that it has reached a decision that, by all accounts, it intends to be final. The court concluded that Village Green’s claims are ripe because the rejection of Village Green’s application inflicted a concrete and particularized injury, not one that is merely speculative and may never occur. View "Village Green at Sayville, LLC v. Town of Islip et al." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's denial of the Bank's motion for judgment on the pleadings. In this case, the district court concluded that plaintiffs have Article III standing to sue the Bank for violating the timely recordation requirements imposed by New York State's mortgage-satisfaction-recording statutes and certified the question for interlocutory appeal. The court held, however, that plaintiffs' allegations fail to support their Article III standing, and that they may not pursue their claims for the statutory penalties imposed by the New York Legislature in federal court. In this case, plaintiffs have not suffered a concrete harm due to the Bank's violation. View "Maddox v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon Trust Co., N.A." on Justia Law

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Property owners in the Town of East Hampton appeal from two separate decisions of the district court concerning their claims that the jetties abutting Lake Montauk Harbor have caused significant erosion on their properties. First, the district court dismissed plaintiffs' Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claims against the Untied States for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on sovereign immunity grounds, citing the FTCA's discretionary function exception. Second, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to the Town on plaintiff's state-law private nuisance and trespass claims.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in both decisions, concluding that the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs' claims against the United States are barred by sovereign immunity. In this case, neither the FCSA nor the 3x3x3 Paradigm prescribes a specific course of action abridging the USACE's broad discretion in carrying out the LMH Study, and that study and the Lake Montauk Harbor FNP are clearly susceptible to policy analysis. The court also held that, under New York law, the Town's ownership of the land beneath the jetties, standing alone, did not give rise to a duty to mitigate any erosion caused by the jetties. The court concluded that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state-law claims; the district court properly granted the Town's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law; and the law of the case doctrine did not compel denial of the Town's motion for judgment as a matter of law. View "Cangemi v. United States" on Justia Law