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Jeff Moen appealed a judgment awarding Jason Haider damages for wrongful injury to timber. Moen argued the district court abused its discretion in excluding a jury instruction on treble damages and erred in admitting an expert's testimony. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's admission of expert testimony, reversed the district court's exclusion of a jury instruction on treble damages, and remanded this case for a new trial. View "Haider v. Moen" on Justia Law

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The Inholders own patented mining and homestead claims within the Santa Fe National Forest. The 2011 Las Conchas Fire caused widespread destruction of vegetation within the forest. Forest Roads 89 and 268, which the Inholders had used to access their properties, were severely damaged by subsequent flooding. The Forest Service notified them that the roads were “impassible” and that it would provide them with limited access: “a combination of driving and hiking over specific routes and under specific weather conditions.” Later, the Service sent a letter stating that “public safety would be highly threatened by use of” the roads; that it would close the roads to public access for the foreseeable future; that because of continuing terrain instability, any reconstruction would likely be destroyed by future flooding; and, even if reconstruction were possible, the Service could not justify expending public funds when there is no general public need. The Service suggested that the Inholders work “collectively” to reconstruct the roads. The Inholders claimed that they held statutorily-granted easements. The USDA disagreed, citing 90 Stat. 2743, but acknowledged that the Inholders had a right to access their properties, “subject to reasonable regulations.” The Inholders claimed a compensable taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal, finding that the Inholders had not adequately pled a physical taking and that any regulatory taking claim was not ripe because the Inholders had not applied for a permit to reconstruct the roads. View "Martin v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for Wells Fargo in a third lawsuit arising between the parties involving the foreclosure of plaintiff's property. Plaintiff alleged that the bank violated Minn. Stat. 582.043 when it continued with foreclosure proceedings after he had submitted an application for a loan modification, and Wells Fargo brought a counterclaim against him for breach of a prior settlement agreement. The court held that plaintiff's claim was barred by res judicata because he could have brought the claim during the 2013 foreclosure litigation and he had an opportunity to litigate the claim fairly and fully if he had timely raised it. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings for Wells Fargo on the bank's counterclaim where plaintiff was not discharged from his obligation to perform under the settlement agreement. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying leave to amend on futility grounds. View "Lansing v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Fla. Stat. 702.06 permits an independent action at law for a deficiency judgment when the foreclosure court has expressly reserved jurisdiction to handle a deficiency claim but has not actually decided the merits of the claim. Heather Lanham’s residential property was foreclosed by final judgment that expressly reserved jurisdiction to rule on any future deficiency claim. Dyck-O’Neal, Inc., which was assigned the mortgage and note, filed a separate action at law against Lanham seeking a deficiency judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Lanham. The First District Court of Appeal quashed the trial court’s decision, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the suit under Fla. Stat. 702.06 because the foreclosure court previously had reserved jurisdiction to handle the deficiency claim. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that section 702.06 plainly precludes the separate action only where the foreclosure court has actually ruled on the claim. View "Dyck-O'Neal, Inc. v. Lanham" on Justia Law

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A majority of the Supreme Court held (1) Va. Code 56-49.01(A) allows a natural gas company to gain access to private property for the purpose of conducting surveys and other activities that are only necessary for the selection of the most advantageous route; and (2) the trial court did not misapply section 56-49.01 in this case. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP), which was engaged in the regulatory approval process to build a natural gas pipeline, sought permission to enter Landowners’ properties to conduct preliminary surveys and other activities. Landowners withheld their consent. ACP filed the instant second amended petition for declaratory judgment seeking an order affirming ACP’s authority to enter Landowners’ properties for the purposes defined in section 56-49.01. The trial court granted ACP permission to enter the properties to conduct the necessary activities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in its construction of section 56-49.01(A); and (2) the trial court’s application of section 56-49.01 was not improper. View "Barr v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude, LLC in this declaratory action challenging the tax classification of Hiland Crude’s crude oil gathering pipelines in Montana. Hiland Crude owns and operates crude oil gathering and transmission systems in Montana. The Department of Revenue began centrally assessing Hiland Crude’s property in 2013 and classified all of its pipeline systems within the State as class nine property. Hiland Crude filed this suit asserting that gathering pipeline systems should be taxed as class eight property, regardless of whether the property is centrally assessed, because they are “flow lines and gathering lines” under the class eight statute. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment for Hiland Crude. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude. View "Hiland Crude, LLC v. State, Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought relief from the City of Rutland after suffering sewage backups in their homes. The trial court granted summary judgment to the City, concluding plaintiffs failed to adequately support their negligence, nuisance, trespass, and constitutional takings claims. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing they produced sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment. Agreeing with the trial court, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. View "Lorman v. City of Rutland" on Justia Law

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In 2009 Calvin Miller purchased from June Fowler by warranty deed an eight-unit, three-story apartment building located in Anchorage. Miller filed suit to bar the seller’s attempt to foreclose on the property after he stopped making payments. Miller also alleged that the seller had misrepresented the condition of the building’s sewer lines at the time of sale. The superior court granted summary judgment in the seller’s favor on all of the misrepresentation claims on the basis that they were barred by the statute of limitations. During the trial, the superior court denied the purchaser leave to amend his complaint. After a bench trial on the remaining claims, the superior court concluded that the seller did not wrongfully foreclose on the building because the purchaser was in default. Miller appealed these three decisions. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment because the seller failed to establish an absence of material fact issues regarding when the purchaser’s causes of action accrued. The Court vacated the order denying the wrongful foreclosure claim because the superior court erred when it found the purchaser in default. The Court affirmed the denial of the purchaser’s motion to amend. View "Miller v. Fowler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the royalty interest reserved to the grantor in a 1951 deed was fixed - or set at a specific percentage of production - rather than floating - dependent on the royalty amount in the applicable oil and gas lease. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the deed reserved a floating one-half royalty interest. The trial court declared that the deed reserved a floating one-half royalty interest. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the royalty interest was fixed. The Supreme Court reversed in light of the language and structure of the reservation at issue, holding that the deed unambiguously reserved a floating one-half interest in the royalty in all oil, gas, or other minerals produced from the conveyed property. View "U.S. Shale Energy II, LLC v. Laborde Properties, L.P." on Justia Law

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In 2006 Conway contracted to sell land in Broadview to Donahue, who assigned the contract to Chicago Joe’s Tea Room, LLC. Chicago Joe’s sole manager applied for the required special-use permit. Broadview denied the application in 2007. The land sale contract never closed and the planned strip club never opened. The LLC and Conway filed suit in 2007 alleging that Broadview violated the First Amendment. Broadview amended its ordinances multiple times during the lawsuit. One amendment led District Judge Gottschall, to conclude that Broadview’s amendment to its adult-use setback ordinance was “aimed solely at Chicago Joe’s.” After the case was transferred to Judge Lee, the parties litigated renewed summary judgment motions. Judge Lee granted Broadview summary judgment on Chicago Joe’s declaratory judgment and injunction claims, but denied summary judgment on the damages claim. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the claim for injunctive relief that established interlocutory appellate jurisdiction is actually moot, and affirmed its dismissal. At every stage of the process, Chicago Joe’s has proposed a use of property prohibited by then-current local law, so it has no vested rights. Since 2007, Chicago Joe’s has proposed to use the property in a way prohibited by Illinois statute, without challenging that statute. View "Chicago Joe's Tea Room, LLC v. Village of Broadview" on Justia Law