Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The People filed suit against Venice Suites for violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) and for public nuisance, among other causes of action, alleging that Venice Suites illegally operates a hotel or transient occupancy residential structure (TORS).The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary adjudication in favor of Venice Suites. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that the People did not raise the issue of permissive zoning in their briefing but the court exercised its discretion to consider the issue on its merits. On the merits, the court concluded that the LAMC did not prohibit the length of occupancy of an apartment house in an R3 zone. Furthermore, the court concluded that the permissive zoning scheme does not apply to the length of occupancy, and the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance do not regulate the use of an apartment house. View "People v. Venice Suites, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Union Pacific Railroad charged Heber Rentals, LC (“Heber”) and L.K.L. Associates, Inc. (“L.K.L.”) rent under a lease that allowed L.K.L. to continue operating a building materials supply business on land that was owned in fee by Heber—and leased to L.K.L.—but encumbered by Union Pacific’s right of way. After the Supreme Court stated in 2014 that railroad rights of way like Union Pacific’s were “nonpossessory” easements, L.K.L. and Heber stopped paying rent and filed suit against Union Pacific. In addition to requesting declaratory relief, L.K.L. and Heber sought to have their leases rescinded and to receive restitution for rent already paid. Union Pacific brought counterclaims arising out of their nonpayment. On summary judgment, the district court held that Union Pacific’s easement, while nonpossessory, gave it exclusive use and possession rights “insofar as Union Pacific elected to use the land subject to its easement for a railroad purpose.” Although it found that the lease agreements served no railroad purpose, it denied the rescission claim as “untimely and redundant.” In a follow-up order, it ruled that L.K.L. and Heber had abandoned their remaining claims. The district court also rejected all of Union Pacific’s counterclaims. The Tenth Circuit agreed with Union Pacific that its right of way included the unqualified right to exclude L.K.L. and Heber, but the Court agreed with L.K.L. and Heber that their leases were invalid. “Even if the incidental use doctrine applies, neither the leases nor the underlying business conduct furthered a railroad purpose, as the easement requires.” The Court: reversed the district court’s declaratory judgment rulings to the extent they are inconsistent with the Court’s opinion; affirmed the district court’s ruling that the rescission claim was time-barred; affirmed the district court’s rejection of Union Pacific’s counterclaim for breach of contract; reversed its rejection of Union Pacific’s other substantive counterclaims; and reversed the district court’s finding of abandonment. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "LKL Associates, et al. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final decree of the superior court foreclosing Respondent's right of reception for property sold at a tax sale, holding that there was no error.Petitioner purchased the property at issue in this case at a tax sale. More than one year after the tax sale and the recording of the deed, Petitioner filed a petition seeking to foreclose Respondent's right of redemption. The superior court held a hearing on the petition and determined that Respondent was in default and that Petitioner was entitled to its requested relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent waived all of the arguments that he raised on appeal. View "E.T. Investments, LLC v. Riley" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court reversed two judgments of the superior court entered in favor of Petitioners, a group of taxpayers who challenged the City of Providence's tax assessments on their properties for tax years 2014 and 2015, holding that the trial justice erred.The trial justice ruled that a revaluation conducted in 2013 of property values was illegal and invalid and that the tax bills for the relevant tax years shall be revised based on the 2012 revaluation. The superior court entered judgment in favor of Petitioners in excess of $1.5 million. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial justice improperly weighed the evidence and erred as a matter of law in finding that the 2013 revaluation was illegal, invalid, selective, arbitrary, and discriminatory. View "Athena Providence Place v. Pare" on Justia Law

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In case no. 1190816, appellant-plaintiff SE Property Holdings, LLC ("SEPH"), appealed a circuit court's denial of its petition seeking to hold appellee-defendant David Harrell in contempt for failing to comply with the trial court's postjudgment charging order entered in a previous action involving the parties and its failure to hold a hearing on its contempt petition. In case no. 1190814, SEPH petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, seeking the same relief. The Supreme Court consolidated the proceedings ex mero motu. In case no. 1190816, the Supreme Court found nothing in the record indicating that a hearing was held or that, if one was held, Harrell was "notified ... of the time and place for the hearing on the petition." Thus, in case no. 1190816, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. Case 1190814 was dismissed. View "Ex parte SE Property Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

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Delaware’s Unclaimed Property Law (UPL), Del. Code tit. 12 section 1101, allows the state to escheat certain types of unclaimed property held by businesses chartered in the state, if the particular business holding the property is not the owner of it, and if there has been no contact with the owner for a specified period of time. Delaware initiated an audit of Siemens, which is incorporated under Delaware law. After a near-decade-long audit process, Siemens sued the state, challenging the constitutionality of the audit and arguing that Delaware’s actions conflict with federal common law limiting the scope of any state’s escheatment authority.The district court dismissed most of Siemens’s claims and denied its motion for a preliminary injunction on the sole surviving claim, which alleged a violation of procedural due process. The Third Circuit vacated. The district court erred in concluding that Siemens failed to show irreparable harm based on its procedural due process claim, and in dismissing Siemens’s federal preemption claim as unripe. In considering the audit, the district court paid insufficient heed to a holder’s payment obligations with respect to interest and penalties under the statute and the consequences of not meeting those obligations. The court affirmed the dismissal of Siemens’s expedited-audit procedural due process claim. View "Siemens USA Holdings Inc. v. Geisenberger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' claims against Intermountain GeoEnvironmental Services, Inc. (IGES), holding that the court of appeals correctly construed the Economic Loss Statute, Utah Code 78B-4-513(1) to (2), to reach Plaintiffs' negligence claims.After moving into their home, Plaintiffs discovered that the walls and foundation were cracking due to "failure surfaces" in the soil approximately sixty-five feet beneath their home. Plaintiffs brought suit against IGES, a geotechnical engineering firm that provided a geotechnical report stating that the site was safe for residential construction, asserting a variety of tort and contract claims. The district court dismissed the claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs brought an action for defective design, and therefore, the Economic Loss Statute applied and barred Plaintiffs' negligence claims; and (2) the court of appeals did not err in failing to analyze whether a common law independent duty exception applied to their claims because no common law exception was available. View "Hayes v. Intermountain GeoEnvironmental Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court dismissing Defendant's appeal from the trial court's denial of her motion to open the judgment of strict foreclosure, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion.Defendant defaulted on a promissory note, and Plaintiff commenced a strict foreclosure action. After the trial court set the law day, Defendant filed a motion to open the judgment, raising equitable grounds involving alleged misrepresentations by Plaintiff relating to the foreclosure proceedings. The trial court denied the motion. The appellate court dismissed Defendant's appeal as moot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the claim raised in Defendant's motion was not moot but, rather, was a recognizable claim in equity; and (2) Defendant's claim that the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion to open the judgment failed. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Rothermel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court decree quieting and confirming title in 173.5 acres of Lee County property in favor of Appellees in this case, holding that the circuit court's findings were clearly erroneous.Appellants filed a partition petition in the circuit court. Appellees filed a counterclaim to quiet title, asserting that they owned the property through adverse possession. The circuit court entered a decree quieting and confirming title in favor of Appellees and declaring all other claims null and void. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the cotenants of the property were entitled to actual notice of Appellees' adverse claim to the property and that Appellees did not meet the actual notice requirement. View "Trice v. Trice" on Justia Law

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In the first suit between the parties, the state trial court entered judgment against plaintiffs in August 2018. Plaintiffs then filed this second suit in federal court, asserting the same state law claims in addition to claims under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the state law claims as precluded by res judicata; dismissal of the CWA claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim; and denial of plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief. In this case, the non-CWA claims existed at the time of the state court judgment, and are the same as those asserted in the state court litigation. Furthermore, plaintiffs have forfeited any argument that the district court erred in dismissing the CWA allegations in the original, first, and second amended complaints. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' subsequent Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration, which included a request for leave to file a third amended complaint. View "Stevens v. St. Tammany Parish Government" on Justia Law