Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

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Pacific Harmony Grove Development, LLC and Mission Valley Corporate Center, Ltd. (Owners) appealed the judgment entered in a condemnation case following the first phase of a bifurcated trial at which the trial court resolved certain legal issues concerning how to value the condemned property. The City of Escondido (City) sought to acquire by condemnation from Owners a 72-foot-wide strip of land (the strip) across a mostly undeveloped 17.72-acre parcel (the Property) to join two disconnected segments of Citracado Parkway. The City argued that the strip should have been valued under the doctrine from City of Porterville v. Young, 195 Cal.App.3d 1260 (1987). Owners argued the Porterville doctrine did not apply, and that the court should have instead applied the “project effect rule.” After a four-day bench trial, the court issued a comprehensive statement of decision ruling in the City’s favor on all issues. Owners appealed, contending the trial court erred by finding the Porterville doctrine applied, the project effect rule did not, and the City was not liable for precondemnation damages. After review, the Court of Appeal concurred with the City’s position and affirmed the judgment. View "City of Escondido v. Pacific Harmony Grove Development" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this property valuation matter for further proceedings, holding that the use of a now-defunct tax appeal form challenging assessments to certain homeowners' association lands for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 was proper.Petitioners, homeowners' associations located in Marion County, filed petitions for correction of an error (Form 133) alleging that property tax assessments from the years 2001 through 2003 were illegal because certain common areas of the properties were so encumbered by restrictions that the land had no value. The Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals denied the forms. The Tax Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding in part that the HOAs' claim was not proper for a Form 133. The Supreme Court reversed in part and summarily affirmed in part, holding that Form 133 was a proper avenue to challenge the application of a discount to common land within the HOAs' property. View "Muir Woods Section One Ass'n Inc. v. Marion County Assessor" on Justia Law

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James Hughes twice invested in the Shipp family’s efforts to develop their property near Bentonia, Mississippi, into a gated community called Rose Lake, in exchange for lots in the future subdivision. Twice, he came up empty handed and sued the Shipps. At the close of Hughes came up empty handed. Hughes sued the Shipps. At the close of Hughes’s case, the chancellor found the situation “very inequitable.” Yet he still denied Hughes any equitable relief based on the running of the statute of limitations. The Court of Appeals affirmed on alternate grounds. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari review specifically to address Hughes’s unjust-enrichment claim. And after review, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the statute of limitations should not have run from the date Hughes cut the checks for the lots, but from the time his cause of action for unjust enrichment actually accrued. But the Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals’ deciding to resolve this fact-intensive question on appeal. Furthermore, the Court disagreed that the dismissal of this claim should have been affirmed on alternate grounds, namely Hughes’s failure to “identify a promise.” Hughes’ unjust-enrichment claim was reversed and remanded that claim to the trial court for further proceedings. The trial court was affirmed in all other respects. View "Hughes v. Shipp, et al." on Justia Law

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Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, Los Angeles imposed an eviction moratorium during a “Local Emergency Period” with the stated purposes of ensuring housing security and promoting public health during the pandemic. Related provisions delay applicable tenants’ rent payment obligations and prohibit landlords from charging late fees and interest. A trade association of Los Angeles landlords, sued, alleging violations of the Constitution’s Contracts Clause.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of the plaintiff’s request for preliminary injunctive relief, noting that other courts, including the Supreme Court, have recently considered various constitutional and statutory challenges to COVID-19 eviction moratoria. Under modern Contracts Clause doctrine, even if the eviction moratorium was a substantial impairment of contractual relations, the moratorium’s provisions were likely “reasonable” and “appropriate” given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city fairly tied the moratorium to its stated goals. The court noted that contemporary Supreme Court case law has severely limited the Contracts Clause’s potency. View "Apartment Association of Los Angeles County, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles." on Justia Law

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For more than 50 years, the Trust has owned contiguous parcels on Garfield Road, Mentor, Ohio, comprising 16.15 acres near the terminus of Norton Parkway, a road completed in 2006 that connects Garfield Road to Center Street, which connects to I-90 via an interchange completed in 2005. According to the Trust, the interchange “has dramatically changed the character of the area" from rural residential to mixed-use, with industrial, office, commercial, medical, senior living and various residential uses. The Trust sought rezoning from “Single Family R-4” to “Village Green – RVG,” hoping to develop 40 single-family residences with five acres of open space. Without the rezoning, the Trust could develop 13 single-family residences. According to the Trust, its Echo Hill Subdivision plan is materially identical to a plan that the city approved for rezoning in 2017, the “Woodlands.” The Planning Commission recommended denial; the City Council adopted that recommendation. According to the Trust, this is the first time that the city has denied an application for rezoning to RVG since 2004.The Sixth Circuit reinstated certain claims. The Trust’s ownership of 16 acres is a sufficient property interest to support its takings claim. The Trust does not need to plead facts negating every possible explanation for the differential treatment between the Trust’s property and the Woodlands for its class-of-one equal-protection claim to survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings. View "Andrews v. City of Mentor" on Justia Law

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After her husband Benny Wall (decedent) died, petitioner Cindy Wall (wife) petitioned the probate court to determine that a home, titled in decedent’s name, was community property. Decedent’s children, objectors Timothy Wall and Tamara Nimmo (the children) unsuccessfully objected. On appeal, the children contended the trial court erred: (1) in determining the Family Code section 760 community property presumption prevailed over the Evidence Code section 662 form of title presumption; (2) in failing to consider tracing evidence rebutting the community property presumption; (3) in determining the Family Code section 721 undue influence presumption prevailed over the Evidence Code section 662 form of title presumption; and (4) by applying the undue influence presumption where there was no showing of unfair advantage. Though the Court of Appeal concluded the first two contentions had merit, it affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Estate of Wall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirmed the orders of the district court dismissing Appellant's constitutional claims asserting discrimination in the tax assessments of its properties, holding that Appellants' claims were time-barred.Appellant, Walmart, Inc., owned real property in two counties (the Counties). In this action, Walmart claimed that for tax purposes the Counties overvalued the properties or unfairly assessed the properties' value as compared with other similarly situated properties. Appellant asserted that the Counties' international discrimination in their tax assessments violated the Equal Protection Clause and Appellant's right to uniformity in taxation. The district court dismissed the claims as time-barred, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's claims were subject to the limitations period of Minn. Stat. Ann. Chapter 278 and were time-barred. View "Walmart Inc. v. Winona County" on Justia Law

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An individual bought a condominium, which she consistently rented for short terms. Sixteen years after her purchase, the owner’s association amended its governing documents to prohibit renting properties for less than 30 days. The Court of Appeal agreed with the owner that she was exempt from this prohibition under Civil Code section 4740 (a), which provided that an owner of a property in a common interest development “shall not be subject to a provision in a governing document or an amendment to a governing document that prohibits the rental or leasing of” the owner’s property unless that document or amendment “was effective prior to the date the owner acquired title” to the property. The trial court held that she was not exempt, so judgment was reversed. View "Brown v. Montage at Mission Hills, Inc." on Justia Law

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Property owners filed suit after the Town of Redington Beach passed an ordinance that granted the public certain access to the dry sand beaches. After the lawsuit was filed, Plaintiff Fields was asked to resign from her position on the Board of Adjustment (which reviews requests for variances from the Town's zoning code), because she had filed this suit against the Town.The Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded the district court's grant of summary judgment to the property owners on their claims that the ordinance violated Florida law and constituted an unlawful taking. The court concluded that the district court erred in declaring the ordinance void under Florida Statute 163.035; the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the property owners on the Town's customary use defense; and the district court erred in finding a facial and an as-applied taking. The court also vacated and remanded the district court's grant of summary judgment to Plaintiff Fields on the First Amendment retaliation claim. View "Buending v. Town of Redington Beach" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendant Gerald James on his quiet title claim and granting both Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiffs' remaining claims, holding that summary judgment was properly granted.Plaintiffs, Robert and Naomi James, filed a complaint asserting multiple claims against Defendants, Gladys Winkel and Gerald, including a claim to quiet title to real property. Gerald answered and filed several counterclaims. Winkel answered separately and also filed a counterclaim. The district court granted summary judgment generally in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in ruling that Plaintiffs could not maintain a claim for equitable conversion because they failed to timely plead it; and (2) genuine issues of material fact did not preclude the grant of summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiffs' claims. View "James v. Winkel" on Justia Law