Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

By
The Park, a mobile home park, filed suit against the City, challenging Ordinance 644, asserting claims for, among other things, violations of the Takings, Due Process, and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. Ordinance 644's purpose is to “stabilize mobile home park space rents” to, among other things, “[p]revent exploitation of the shortage of vacant mobile home park spaces,” “[p]revent excessive and unreasonable . . . rent increases,” and “[r]ectify the disparity of bargaining power” between park owners and mobile home owners. The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss. The court held that no regulatory taking occurred here and that the Park’s self-styled “private takings claim” is not a separately cognizable claim. The court concluded that the Park’s “private takings claim” cannot serve as a means to evade Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York scrutiny. And in any event, as articulated here, such claim fails because it is a thinly veiled facial challenge, which is both time barred and lacks merit. Further, the court was not persuaded by the related due process and equal protection claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case. View "Rancho de Calistoga v. City of Calistoga" on Justia Law

By
After claimants defeated the Government's attempts to forfeit property seized in connection with a criminal investigation, claimants received significant awards of attorney's fees. Claimants' lawyer asked the district court that he be paid those fees directly, pursuant to an assignment in their representation agreement. The Government asserts that the Anti-Assignment Act, 31 U.S.C. 3727, voids such an assignment. The court concluded that the Government is not estopped from asserting the Anti-Assignment Act; the Act applies to and voids an award of attorney's fees pursuant to Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), 28 U.S.C. 2465; and an award of attorney's fees under CAFRA is a claim against the United States to which the Act applies. The Act does not prevent an attorney from taking an interest in the fees that is effective against the Government; it merely forbids an assignment of the right to be paid directly from the United States Treasury. The court vacated the district court's order awarding attorney's fees directly to the lawyer because the Act applies to void the assignment in the representation agreement between claimants and the lawyer. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Kim" on Justia Law

By
This case arose from a dispute between plaintiffs and Chicago Title over whether Chicago Title breached a duty of care to plaintiffs, causing damages, when it recorded unauthorized liens on Plaintiff CPIII's property. Because this appeal turns on an unresolved question of Washington law, the court certified the following question to the Washington Supreme Court: Does a title company owe a duty of care to third parties in the recording of legal instruments? View "Centurion Properties v. Chicago Title" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff, a homeowner, appealed the dismissal of his action against Freddie Mac, for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty where Freddie Mac purchased plaintiff's mortgage from Taylor Bean, the loan originator, on a secondary market. Taylor Bean failed to pay the insurance premium from an escrow account and caused plaintiff's insurance to be cancelled. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to allege facts that, if true, would establish that Freddie Mac had a contractual duty to service the loan where the Deed of Trust expressly disavows any assumption of servicing obligations by a subsequent purchaser of the loan, and Freddie Mac never expressly assumed any such obligations. The court concluded that Washington law did not prohibit this arrangement and that this arrangement is typical for such home loans. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's breach of fiduciary duty argument failed because Section 20 of the Deed of Trust where the duty to hold the money for the insurance premiums in escrow remained with the loan servicer, Taylor Bean. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Johnson v. FHLMC" on Justia Law

By
Byron Pickle appealed the district court's default judgment and final judgment of forfeiture of real property. The judgment was entered after the district court granted the government's motion to strike Pickle's claim and answer based on Pickle's failure to respond to special interrogatories the government propounded under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure's Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions (Rule) G(6)(c)(i)(A), and denied Pickle's motion to stay. The court concluded that the district court incorrectly viewed Pickle's failure to answer the Rule G(6) special interrogatories as a per se basis for striking his claim. Because the district court’s decision to strike Pickle’s claim was based on the legally erroneous belief that Pickle’s failure to comply with Rule G(6) vitiated his statutory standing to contest the forfeiture and required dismissal of his claim forthwith, and because Pickle’s failure to answer the G(6) interrogatories would not have warranted striking his claim as a discovery sanction without giving him an opportunity to cure his lack of response, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. Pickle" on Justia Law

By
Nathan Stoliar was convicted and sentenced for crimes related to fraudulent schemes involving the false generation of renewable fuel credits under United States law, false representations regarding the type of fuel being sold, and the export of biodiesel without retiring or purchasing renewable energy credits adequate to cover the exported amount as required under United States law. Canada filed a petition for restitution from Soliar but the district court denied the order. This is a petition for a writ of mandamus filed pursuant to the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3771. Because a petitioner seeking restitution under the CVRA must also rely on a substantive restitution statute, Canada sought restitution pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A(a)(1), (c)(1). The court concluded that Canada's claim for restitution is based on events that are insufficiently related to the schemes set forth in the indictment and the facts supporting Stoliar's guilty plea. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. View "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada v. U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada" on Justia Law

By
Appellants filed this putative class action challenging the California State Controller’s application of California’s Unclaimed Property Law (“UPL”), which provides for the conditional transfer of unclaimed property to the State of California. Appellants claimed that the procedures used both before unclaimed property is transferred to the Controller (“pre-escheat”) and after it is transferred (“post-escheat”) violate their due process rights. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellants’ argument that the pre-escheat notice provided by the Controller is constitutionally inadequate because the Controller does not attempt to locate property owners using the data sources required by Section 1531 of the UPL was based on a misinterpretation of the statute, and Appellants’ suggested requirement that the Controller use additional databases exceeded due process requirements; (2) Appellants’ argument that the Controller’s pre-escheat notice process is inadequate because it is carried out by companies that received a portion of the escheated value and therefore have a conflict of interest was not supported by law or the alleged facts; and (3) Appellants’ challenged to the post-escheat procedure was not ripe for review. View "Taylor v. Chiang" on Justia Law

By
The Tribe filed suit alleging that the Secretary, acting through the BIA, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 702, 706, by determining that the Secretary was not authorized to approve the Tribe's assignments of land to certain of its members. The district court granted summary judgment to the Secretary. At issue are the interpretation of two federal statutes: 25 U.S.C. 81 and 25 U.S.C. 77. Section 177 acknowledges and guarantees the Indian tribes' right of possession and imposes on the federal government a fiduciary duty to protect the lands covered by the Indian Nonintercourse Act. Section 81 provides that Indian tribes enjoyed the right to possess and occupy lands but not alienate these lands without the federal government's approval. The court concluded that Congressional intent is clear. Section 177 prohibits the grant, lease, or conveyance of lands, or any title thereto from an Indian tribe unless approved by Congress. In this case, Congress has not approved the transactions at issue. Thus, the Secretary properly denied approval of the deeds under Section 81 where such conveyances would violate federal law. The court concluded that the Fifth Circuit's decision in Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Richards was not binding. The plain language of Section 81 does not support the Tribe's reading that the deeds may nevertheless be approved by the Secretary under Section 81. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Chemehuevi Indian Tribe v. Jewell" on Justia Law

By
El Dorado, a mobile home park owner located in the City of Fillmore alleged that the City interfered with an application for a subdivision of its seniors-only mobile home park by causing unreasonable delays and imposing extralegal conditions because of a fear that subdivisions would lead to El Dorado opening the Park to families. El Dorado's complaint was dismissed for lack of standing. The court concluded, however, that El Dorado had Article III standing where El Dorado suffered a concrete and particularized, actual, injury, in the form of added expenses caused by the City's interference of the application. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.View "El Dorado Estates v. City of Fillmore" on Justia Law

By
Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to engage in prohibited monetary transactions in property for his part in the purchase of two parcels of real property with fraudulently obtained loans. The district court ordered Defendant to pay $615,935 in restitution to JP Morgan Chase, a loan purchaser, and $329,767 in restitution to CitiGroup, a loan originator. Defendant appealed the restitution order. The Ninth Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s determination that the requirements of the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act were met in this case; (2) affirmed the calculation of restitution owed to CitiGroup; and (3) vacated and remanded for the district court to recalculate the amount owed to Chase because the court applied a formula for a loan originator, although Chase had purchased the loans. View "United States v. Luis" on Justia Law