Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff alleges she bought her Richmond home in 1973, refinanced her mortgage in 2005, and unsuccessfully applied for a loan modification in 2015. Plaintiff was not allowed to make payments in the interim and owed $20,000 in arrears. Plaintiff sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief. She was required to make monthly payments to cover her pre-petition mortgage arrears plus her regular monthly mortgage payments. Plaintiff failed to make her regular October 2016 mortgage payment. Defendant sought relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay. The bankruptcy court approved an agreement that she would pay the October and November payments over a period beginning in January 2017. Plaintiff claims defendant violated that agreement, that her attempts to make those payments failed, and that she was unable to contact the defendant’s “single point of contact” for foreclosure avoidance (Civil Code 2923.7) Defendant obtained relief from the bankruptcy stay and would not accept the January 2017 payment. At the time of the bankruptcy sale, plaintiff’s home was worth approximately $550,000; defendant sold the home for $403,000. The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim that she should have been able to avoid foreclosure by tendering the amount in default (Civ. Code 2924c) and that it was unlawful for defendant also to demand payment on amounts subject to a confirmed bankruptcy plan and reversed the dismissal of the section 2923.7 claim but upheld the dismissal of breach of contract, negligence, and elder abuse claims. View "Williams v. 21st Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law

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Farid Hedayatzadeh (Hedayatzadeh) appealed following the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the City of Del Mar (the City) in his lawsuit arising out of the death of his 19-year-old son, who was struck by a train on an oceanfront bluff in Del Mar on property owned by North County Transit District (NCTD). Specifically, Hedayatzadeh argued the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on his single cause of action alleging a dangerous condition of public property based primarily on the City's failure to erect any barriers to prevent pedestrians from accessing NCTD's train tracks. On the night at issue, Javad Hedayatzadeh and his friends walked around the guardrail at the end of 13th Street, down an unimproved dirt embankment, and crossed the train tracks. The group then walked northbound on the west side of the tracks to a spot where they sat and smoked marijuana. They knew they were trespassing on NCTD property. At various points along the railroad right-of-way, NCTD has installed signs stating "No Trespassing," "Danger" and "Railroad Property." Javad noticed a freight train coming from the south and told his friends that he was going to use his phone to take a video "selfie" of himself next to the train. As Javad was near the train tracks taking the selfie, he was struck by the train and killed. After filing an unsuccessful claim under the Government Claims Act, Javad's father, Hedayatzadeh, filed this lawsuit against the City, NCTD, and BNSF Railway Company, which allegedly operated the freight train. The Court of Appeal concluded that, as a matter of law, the City's property at the end of 13th Street did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property even though the City did not take action to prevent pedestrians from accessing the train tracks on NCTD's adjacent right-of-way by walking around the guardrail at the end of the street. View "Hedayatzadeh v. City of Del Mar" on Justia Law

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Sabal Trail brought a condemnation action to acquire permanent and temporary easements that would allow it to build and operate a portion of the pipeline on property owned by Sunderman Groves. The jury awarded Sunderman Groves $309,500 as compensation for the easements, and the district court entered a final judgment providing that as part of the compensation award, Sunderman Groves was entitled to recover its attorney's fees and costs in an amount to be set by the court. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing Sunderman Groves to testify about the value of the property and the court lacked jurisdiction to review whether Sunderman Groves was entitled to attorney's fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v. 3.921 Acres of Land in Lake County Florida" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the rule of capture immunized an energy developer from liability in trespass, where the developer used hydraulic fracturing on the property it owned or leased, and such activities allowed it to obtain oil or gas that migrated from beneath the surface of another person’s land. Plaintiffs’ property was adjacent to a tract of land leased by Appellant Southwestern Energy Production Company for natural gas extraction. Plaintiffs alleged that Southwestern “has and continues to extract natural gas from under the land of the Plaintiffs,” and that such extraction was “willful[], unlawful[], outrageous[] and in complete conscious disregard of the rights and title of the Plaintiffs in said land and the natural gas thereunder.” Southwestern alleged that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by, inter alia, the rule of capture, and sought declaratory relief confirming its immunity from liability. The court of common pleas court granted Southwestern’s motion for summary judgment, denied Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment, and denied the motion to compel as moot. The court agreed with Southwestern’s position that the rule of capture applied in the circumstances and, as such, Plaintiffs could not recover under theories of trespass or conversion even if some of the gas harvested by Southwestern had drained from under Plaintiffs’ property. The Superior Court reversed, holding that hydraulic fracturing could give rise to liability in trespass, particularly if subsurface fractures ... crossed boundary lines. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the concept that the rule of capture was inapplicable to drilling and hydraulic fracturing that occurred entirely within the developer’s property solely because drainage was the direct or indirect result of hydraulic fracturing. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court found the Superior Court panel’s opinion "to suffer from multiple infirmities," reversed and remanded with directions. View "Briggs, et al v. Southwestern Energy" on Justia Law

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The LLC, the successor in interest to the first landowner, appealed from the judgment upholding the unrecorded parking affidavit as an irrevocable license in favor of plaintiff, the successor in interest to the second property owner. The LLC claimed that the trial court erred as a matter of law by upholding the parking affidavit even though there was no actual or constructive notice of the parking affidavit when the property was purchased. The Court of Appeal held that an irrevocable license is not binding on a subsequent purchaser who takes without notice. The court held that Noronha v. Stewart, (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 485, does not accurately characterize the assignability of an irrevocable license; to the extent an irrevocable license functions as an easement, it must be recorded to bind subsequent purchasers without actual notice; and, in this case, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety's failure to require recording of the 1950 parking affidavit and its present belief the parking affidavit was binding on subsequent purchasers are irrelevant. View "Gamerberg v. 3000 E. 11th Street, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the circuit court's determination of lien priority between the Villages of Kapolei Association's (Association) lien and the Hawai'i Housing Finance and Development Corporation's (HHFDC) competing lien and the valuation of HHFDC's senior lien, holding that the ICA did not err. Specifically, the Court held (1) the ICA did not err by affirming the circuit court's alleged retroactive application of Haw. Rev. Stat. 201H-47 to rule that the HHFDC's lien was senior and superior to the Association's liens; (2) the ICA did not err in determining the appraisal process applied; and (3) the ICA did not err by holding that HHFDC had standing to enforce a shared appreciation or equity agreement between another party and HHFDC's predecessor in interest. View "American Savings Bank, F.S.B. v. Chan" on Justia Law

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In this taxation dispute between the County of Maui and Appellees, which leased land on the island of Maui to operate their wind farms, the Supreme Court upheld the Tax Appeals Court's (TAC) final judgment in favor of Appellees, holding that the TAC properly held that the County exceeded its constitutional authority by amending Maui County Code 3.48.005 to expand its definition of "real property" to include "personal property." The County included the value of Appellees' wind turbine in their real property tax assessments and redefined the term "real property" within section 3.48.005 of the MCC to include wind turbines for that purpose. The TAC concluded that the County exceeded its authority under Haw. Const. art. VIII, 3 because the delegates to the 1978 Constitutional Convention did not intend to grant counties the power to redefine "real property." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County exceeded its constitutional power when it amended MCC 6.48.005 to redefine "real property." View "In re Tax Appeal of Kaheawa Wind Power, LLC v. County of Maui" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the district court granting the Town of Gorham's motion to enforce a consent decree entered earlier in a land-use dispute, holding that there was not a proper record to support the trial court's findings. The Town filed a land-use enforcement claim in the district court charging Defendants with violations of the Gorham Land Use and Development Code. The parties settled the dispute by agreeing to terms set forth in a consent decree, and the trial court ordered the consent decree to be entered as a judgment. The Town then filed a motion to enforce the consent decree, alleging noncompliance on the part of Defendants. The court granted the Town's motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that the court order was not supported by competent evidence in the record. View "Town of Gorham v. Duchaine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's dismissal of Village Lofts at St. Anthony Falls' common-law claims and statutory warranty claims, holding that, for statute of repose purposes, a single warranty date applies to an entire condominium claim and that the two buildings in this case that compromised a condominium building were separate improvements to real property. In dismissing Village Lofts' claims, the district court concluded that the claims were barred by the statutes of repose in Minn. Stat. 541.051. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) in determining how the statute of repose operates for claims of breach of the statutory warranties in Minn. Stat. ch. 327A, a single warranty date applies to each unit within a condominium building; and (2) the two buildings that compromised the condominium development at issue in this case constituted two separate improvements to real property for purposes of applying the repose period in Minn. Stat. 541.051 to defective and unsafe condition claims. View "Village Lofts at St. Anthony Falls Ass'n v. Housing Partners III-Lofts, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims alleging that Defendants violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and the Massachusetts Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 49, holding that both counts were time-barred. Plaintiff filed her complaint against the current holder of a mortgage on her property and the servicer of the mortgage loan, alleging that the loan was predatory because at its inception the lender knew or should have known that Plaintiff would not be able to repay it. Defendants removed the case to federal district court and then moved to dismiss the complaint. The district court dismissed the chapter 93A count as time-barred and the second count on the ground that chapter 93, 49 does not provide private right of action. The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of both counts, albeit on different grounds, holding that both the chapter 93A claim and the chapter 93, 49 claims were time-barred. View "O'Brien v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law