Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, the so-called "quick take" statute, permits a property owner to both accept a pro tanto payment for an eminent domain taking and simultaneously challenge the validity of the underlying taking.Plaintiff argued that Defendant, the City of Cambridge, must immediately tender him the full amount of the pro tanto payment because the quick take statute does not condition his acceptance of the pro tanto payment on waiving his right to challenge the City's taking of his real property. The superior court denied Plaintiff's motion to compel payment of the pro tanto amount, but a single justice in the Appeals Court vacated that decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the quick take statute does not condition a property owner's acceptance of the pro tanto payment under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, 8A on waiving her or his right to contest the validity of the taking under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 79, 18. View "Abuzahra v. City of Cambridge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court reversing a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) contested case decision granting RC Resources, Inc. (RCR) a beneficial water use permit under pertinent provisions of the Montana Water Use Act (MWUA) - Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-301(1), -302(1), and -311 - holding that the district court erred.The permit at issue would have authorized RCR to annually appropriate 857 acre-feet of groundwater that will flow into the underground adits and works of the proposed Rock Creek Mine. Based on its construction of Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii)(B), the district court reversed the issuance of the beneficial use permit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) DNRC correctly concluded that, as used in section 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii), "legal demands" does not include consideration of whether the subject use complies with applicable Montana Water Quality Act nondegradation standards; and (2) section 85-2-311(2) does not violate the right to a clean and healthful environment as applied to the objectors' MWQA nondegradation objections to the proposed MWUA beneficial use permit. View "Clark Fork Coalition v. Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation" on Justia Law

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To advertise its nearby adult bookstore, Lion’s Den displays a billboard, affixed to a tractor-trailer, on a neighbor’s property. Kentucky’s Billboard Act prohibits such off-site billboards if the advertisement is not securely affixed to the ground, the sign is attached to a mobile structure, and no permit has been obtained. None of these requirements applies to an on-site billboard advertisement. The Act applies equally to commercial and non-commercial speech on billboards.In a First Amendment challenge to the Act, the Sixth Circuit affirmed an injunction, prohibiting the Commonwealth from enforcing its law. The Act regulates commercial and non-commercial speech on content-based grounds by distinguishing between messages concerning on-site activities and those concerning off-site activities. The court applied strict scrutiny and held that the Act is not tailored to achieve Kentucky’s purported interests in safety and aesthetics. Kentucky has offered no reason to believe that on-site signs pose a greater threat to safety than do off-site signs and billboards are a "greater eyesore." View "L.D. Management Co. v. Gray" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the intermediate court of appeals' (ICA) judgment on appeal with respect to defendant Nicole Jadan's counterclaim and vacated the district court's judgment, holding that the district court erred by failing to determine whether Jadan's participation in the court proceedings would be meaningful absent language assistance when it resolved her repeated requests for an interpreter.Cambridge Management filed a complaint for writ of possession against Jadan. Jadan counterclaimed for damages. The district court held nine hearings on the complaint and counterclaim. At eight of those court dates, Jadan either requested the assistance of a Polish interpreter or indicated to the court that she struggled with understanding and communicating in English. One judge agreed to appoint an interpreter midway through the district court proceedings, but subsequent court dates proceeded without the service of an interpreter. The court ruled in favor of Cambridge. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part, holding that the district court's failure adequately to inquire into Jadan's language access needs was not harmless. View "Cambridge Management Inc. v. Jadan" on Justia Law

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At the center of this appeal was a dispute between the Polo Golf and Country Club Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) and Forsyth County over the validity of Section 4.2.2 of Forsyth County’s Addendum to the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual, an ordinance that made HOAs “responsible for maintenance of all drainage easements and all stormwater facilities within the entire development.” The HOA argued that Section 4.2.2 was unconstitutional and otherwise invalid, and that individual lot owners were responsible for maintaining stormwater infrastructure on their lots. Variants of this case were litigated and appealed multiple times before the Georgia Supreme Court and other Georgia courts, including a 2019 appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. On remand from the Supreme Court's "Polo Golf II" decision, the trial court evaluated and rejected the HOA’s remaining claims that Section 4.2.2 was invalid because it required the HOA to trespass on the private property of homeowners, constituted involuntary servitude under the United States and Georgia Constitutions, and exceeded the scope of the ordinance that authorized Forsyth County to promulgate the Addendum. The trial court thus denied the HOA’s motion for summary judgment and granted the defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment. The HOA appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Polo Golf & County Club Homeowners Assn., Inc. v. Cunard et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court evicting Defendant from a property and quieting title to it in Plaintiff, Defendant's former husband's corporation (the corporation) but awarding Plaintiff a judgment for the money she provided for its downpayment, holding that the district court did not err.After Plaintiff failed to pay rent for two years the corporation initiated eviction proceedings. Plaintiff denied being a tenant and claimed to co-owned the property. Plaintiff then filed a complaint asking the district court to quiet title to the property in the corporation and restore the premises to it. Defendant filed a countercomplaint requesting partition or, alternative, a constructive trust and restitution. The district court quieted title to the property in Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court did not err in quieting title to the corporation, declining to partition the property or impose a constructive trust upon it, restoring the premises to the corporation, and awarding Defendant a monetary judgment for an unpaid loan. View "Dreesen Enterprises, Inc. v. Dreesen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that groundwater is a Class 1 water under Minnesota law and therefore subject to secondary drinking water standards promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).In 2018, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System permit to United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) governing U.S. Steel's Minntac Tailings Basin Area in Mountain Iron and setting a groundwater sulfate limit of 250 mg/L at the facility's boundary that U.S. Steel must meet by 2025. On appeal, U.S. Steel argued that the MPCA did not have the authority to impose the sulfate standard in the permit because the EPA's secondary drinking water standards apply only to bodies of water classified as Class 1 waters and that groundwater is not classified as Class 1. The court of appeals agreed and reversed the MPCA's decision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) groundwater is a Class 1 water under Minnesota law; and (2) therefore, the MPCA correctly exercised its authority by applying the Class 1 secondary drinking water standards to the permit. View "In re Reissuance of NPDES/SDS Permit to United States Steel Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Specialized, alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing Act (MOSLA). The Eighth Circuit previously held that plaintiff failed to establish an essential element of his claim under RESPA, and remanded the case for further proceedings on his claim under the Minnesota statute. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Specialized.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence that he was injured by Specialized's conduct, and thus did not create a genuine dispute of material fact on an element of his state-law claim. View "Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company (bank) held a deed of trust to the a condominium unit, while defendant Tanglewood Hills Condominium Association (Tanglewood) had a lien for condominium assessments that had not been paid by the owner. Although the bank’s lien would ordinarily take priority, Tanglewood contended that its lien gained priority under ORS 100.450(7), because the bank “ha[d] not initiated” a foreclosure action during a 90-day notice period prescribed by that statute. The trial court rejected Tanglewood’s argument and granted summary judgment for the bank. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with Tanglewood that a condominium association’s notice under ORS 100.450(7)(a) triggered an obligation on a first lienholder to act within 90 days, or the condominium association’s lien will take priority. In this case, the bank did not act before the 90 days expired. Nor could the bank rely on its previously filed foreclosure action, as that action had been dismissed by general judgment prior to the notice, and it remained dismissed throughout the entire 90-day period. Once the 90 days elapsed without the case being reopened or a new foreclosure action being filed, Tanglewood was granted priority over the bank’s interest by operation of ORS 100.450(7). The decision of the Court of Appeals was reversed. The judgment of the circuit court was reversed, and the case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. v. Sulejmanagic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment granting special exception permits (SEP) to Deuel Harvest Wind Energy, LLC and Deuel Harvest Wind Energy South, LLC (Deuel Harvest) to develop two wind energy systems in the County, holding that the circuit court erred by invalidating the votes of two Board members.Following a public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the SEPs. Appellees, several residents of Deuel County and neighboring counties, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, asserting that several Board members had interests or biases disqualifying them from considering the permits. The circuit court invalidated the votes of two Board members due to disqualifying interests and overturned the Board's approval of the SEPs. The Supreme Court reversed in part and reinstated the Board's unanimous vote in approving the SEPs, holding that the circuit court erred in disqualifying the two members from voting on the SEPs. View "Holborn v. Deuel County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law