Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order amending its prior opinion, denying panel rehearing, and denying, on behalf of the court, rehearing en banc; and an amended opinion and dissent. The panel reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs in an action brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), alleging that Fannie Mae falsely communicated to potential mortgage lenders, via its proprietary software, called Desktop Underwriter, that plaintiffs had a prior foreclosure on a mortgage account. The panel held that Fannie Mae is not a consumer reporting agency because, even if it assembles or evaluates consumer information through Desktop Underwriter, it does not do so for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties. Therefore, the panel held that the district court erred by granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying Fannie Mae's cross-motion on this issue. The court also vacated the award of attorney's fees and costs to plaintiffs. View "Zabriskie v. Federal National Mortgage Association" on Justia Law

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The 86-acre Knights Valley parcel in rural Sonoma County is zoned “Land Extensive Agriculture,” which allows wineries and tasting rooms as conditional uses. The project is a two-story, 5,500-square-foot winery building with a 17,500-square-foot wine cave, wastewater treatment, water storage facilities, fire protection facilities, and mechanical areas, covering approximately 2.4 acres. The site contains two residences and 46 acres of vineyards. The nearby area is primarily vineyards. County staff reviewed reports considering impacts on geology, groundwater, wastewater, and biological resources, and concluded that, with recommended mitigation, the project would not have a significant effect on the environment. The county approved the use permit with conditions and adopted a mitigated negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code 21000) and a mitigation monitoring program. The court of appeal upheld the approval. Opponents did not provide evidence that the project is reasonably likely to cause landslides or otherwise generate environmentally harmful releases of debris; that erosion from the project, particularly runoff from the cave spoils, will cause significant effects on Bidwell Creek and degrade the habitat for salmonids; or that the project’s groundwater use will significantly affect salmonids, groundwater supply in neighboring wells, and fire suppression. There was no substantial evidence that the winery will have a significant aesthetic impact or that there is a reasonable possibility the project, as conditioned, will significantly increase the risk of wildfires. View "Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review in this matter centered on a timber trespass action brought by plaintiffs against a neighboring landowner and the logger who cut plaintiffs' trees. Plaintiffs appealed the jury verdict in their favor, arguing that the damage award was inadequate. Plaintiffs also claimed the jury should have found the neighbor liable for unlawful mischief and that the trial court erred in denying their claims for treble damages, additional costs, and prejudgment interest. Finding no abuse of the trial court's discretion, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Epsom v. Crandall" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff argued that the Housing Authority abused its discretion in terminating her participation in the Section 8 Housing Program in the absence of any fraud, and that the Housing Authority did not have the discretion to terminate plaintiff's participation in the Program based on a misreport. The Court of Appeal held that the Housing Authority may not terminate a participant from the Program for an immaterial misreport, but that a false answer to a question about marital status did not fall within that category. The court affirmed the trial court's finding that plaintiff's false statements support her termination from the Program even in the absence of fraudulent intent, and affirmed the trial court's judgment finding that adequate grounds existed to terminate plaintiff from the Program. The court directed the trial court to remand the case to the Housing Authority to consider whether to exercise its discretion to take into account other circumstances in determining the appropriate remedy for plaintiff's violations. View "Crooks v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Tippah County Board of Supervisors abandoned a public road, then rescinded its decision a year and a half later without giving notice to the owners of the land on which the road was located. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded that doing so violated the landowners’ due-process rights, so it affirmed the circuit court’s order voiding the recision order. View "Tippah County v. Lerose" on Justia Law

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Curtis and Lesley Trulson appealed a judgment quieting title to a mineral royalty interest in John (“Tony”) and Jean Meiers. The district court ruled a royalty deed from the Meiers was not delivered and did not convey a royalty interest to the Trulsons. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court misapplied the law because the Meiers failed to rebut the presumption that the deed was delivered to the Trulsons. View "Trulson, et al. v. Meiers, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's determination that Ruby Lake Estates Homeowner's Association's (RLEHOA) authority to impose assessments on Appellants, property owners in Ruby Lake Estates (RLE), holding that RLE is a common-interest community within the meaning of Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.021 and that RLEHOA did not need to be organized before the first lot in RLE was conveyed. RLE was create in 1989. Appellants filed a declaratory relief action challenging RLEHOA's authority to impose assessments on them. Specifically, Appellants argued (1) RLE was not a validly created "common-interest community" as defined by section 116.021; and (2) alternatively, RLEHOA was not a validly created "unit-owners' association." The district court granted summary judgment for RLEHOA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) RLE is a common-interest community because RLE's declaration contained an implied payment obligation for the common elements and other real estate of which Appellants had notice; and (2) Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3101(1) does not apply to common-interest communities formed before 1992, and therefore, RLEHOA did not need to be organized before the first lot in RLE was conveyed. View "Artemis Exploration Co. v. Ruby Lake Estates Homeowner's Ass'n" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between Beachfront Owners and the Town of Kennebunkport over who held title to disputed portions of Goose Rocks Beach the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the holding of the trial court that, under the circumstances of this case, legal title to the property was held by the Town for the benefit of the public. The Beachfront Owners sued the Town seeking a declaratory judgment that each of their parcels includes land to the mean low water mark - subject to public rights to fish, fowl, and navigate in the intertidal zone. The Beachfront Owners also sought to quiet title to their alleged breach property. In response, the Town asserted its title to the beach and the dry sand above it and that it and the public had the right to use those areas. The superior court determined that the Town held title - derived from the original Town proprietors' ownership of common land - to the dry sand and beach in front of the majority of the properties in dispute. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that title to the disputed land seaward of the seawall, including the beach, was held by the Town for the benefit of the public. View "Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport" on Justia Law

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In 1983-1984, the Farmers Home Administration issued apartment owners (Appellants) 50-year loans to provide low-income housing under 42 U.S.C. 1485. A promissory note provided that prepayments “may be made at any time at the option of the Borrower.” The mortgage stated that the loan must be used in compliance with the statute and that Appellants must use the property for low-income housing for 20 years before they could prepay and exit the program. The documents were contemporaneously executed and cited each other. The Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act of 1987 and Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 provided that borrowers could no longer prepay after the 20-year period but must notify FmHA’s successor, which was to make “reasonable efforts" to extend the low-income use,” 42 U.S.C. 1472(c)(4)(A). If the agreement is not extended, the borrower must attempt to sell the property at fair market value to a nonprofit organization or a public agency. Appellants rejected incentive offers and, in 2009-2010, unsuccessfully marketed their properties for the required period. Facing foreclosure and low occupancy due to high unemployment, Appellants submitted deeds in lieu of foreclosure, then filed suit. The Federal Circuit reinstated certain claims. In transferring deeds to the government, Appellants did not assign away their accrued claims for breach of the prepayment right. The Claims Court properly dismissed a contract-based Fifth Amendment “takings” claim. In entering contracts, the government acts in its commercial capacity and remedies arise from the contracts themselves, rather than from constitutional protections. Appellants can succeed under a theory premised on their property interests in the land and buildings before entering the contracts. View "Callaway Manor Apartments v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying Beal Bank USA's complaint to compel the assignment of a mortgage to Beal by the insolvent originating lender, New Century Mortgage Corporation, holding that the court did not err in denying the relief sought by Beal to compel assignment of the mortgage in this case. On appeal, Beal argued that because it was the holder of the note secured by the mortgage, the court erred when it failed to apply the equitable trust doctrine to conclude that New Century held the mortgage in trust for Beal and that Beal was entitled to an assignment of the mortgage. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) although the holder of the note may retain some equitable interest in the accompanying mortgage, any such interest, standing alone, does not equate to actual ownership of the mortgage, nor is the interest sufficient to establish a pre-foreclosure right to compel its assignment; and (2) Beal did not produce sufficient independent evidence of ownership of the mortgage to compel an assignment. View "Beal Bank USA v. New Century Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law