Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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If a creditor fails to make required disclosures under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), borrowers are allowed three years from the loan's consummation date to rescind certain loans. However, TILA does not include a statute of limitations outlining when an action to enforce such a rescission must be brought. The Ninth Circuit applied the analogous state law statute of limitations -- Washington's six year contract statute of limitations -- to TILA rescission enforcement claims. The panel held that plaintiff's TILA claim was timely under Washington's statute of limitations. In this case, the cause of action arose in May 2013 when the Bank failed to take any action to wind up the loan within 20 days of receiving plaintiff's notice of rescission. The panel also held that the district court improperly denied plaintiff leave to amend the complaint. View "Hoang v. Bank of America NA" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs, the owners of a Montana ranch, in a dispute over the ownership of dinosaur fossils. Prior to the discovery of the fossils, the previous owners of the ranch sold their surface and one-third of the mineral estate to plaintiffs, expressly reserving the remaining two-thirds of the mineral estate. The panel held that definitions of "mineral" in Montana statutes were contradictory and thus inconclusive. The panel explained that the Montana Supreme Court has generally adopted the test in Heinatz v. Allen, 217 S.W.2d 994 (Tex. 1940), for determining whether a particular substance was a mineral in the context of deeds and agreements regarding mineral rights to land. Applying the Heinatz test, the panel held that the dinosaur fossils were "minerals" under the terms of the deed and belonged to the owners of the mineral estate. In this case, the fossils were rare and exceptional, and have special value. View "Murray v. BEJ Minerals, LLC" on Justia Law

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G&G appealed the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendant, a citizen of Italy, in G&G's suit asserting various state law claims. G&G alleged that Rustic stole a large, valuable oil painting from her former husband and G&G's predecessor-in-interest. The district court held that G&G's claims were barred by California's borrowing statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 361. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order with respect to the conversion claim, holding that the district court properly determined that this claim accrued sometime in 2000 and was time-barred under both the Italian and California statutes of limitations. The panel vacated and remanded the district court's order with respect to the replevin and unjust enrichment claims, holding that there was no indication that the district court determined when those claims accrued. Finally, the panel vacated and remanded the district court's order with respect to the claim for declaratory relief, holding that the disputed facts on this claim defeated summary judgment in favor of defendant. View "G and G Productions LLC v. Rusic" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit amended the certification order in an appeal challenging Nevada state water law. The panel certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Nevada: Does the public trust doctrine apply to rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation and, if so, to what extent? If the public trust doctrine applies and allows for reallocation of rights settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation, does the abrogation of such adjudicated or vested rights constitute a "taking" under the Nevada Constitution requiring payment of just compensation? View "Mineral County v. Walker River Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for King County in an action to quiet title to a rail corridor that the Surface Transportation Board had railbanked under the Trails Act. As a preliminary matter, the panel held that it had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 because plaintiffs' state law claim necessarily turned on some construction of federal law that was actually disputed, substantial, and capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting any congressionally approved federal-state balance. The panel also held that plaintiffs lacked Article III and statutory standing to challenge King County's interest in the Corridor because they have no property interests in the Corridor; King County owns the portion of the Corridor adjacent to the Hornish Property in fee; the Trails Act preserved the railroad easement and created a new easement for trail use, both of which were conveyed to King County; and the centerline presumption did not apply in this case. The panel also held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to and quieted title in King County where King County possessed the railroad easement and recreational easement, and the easement's width adjacent to the Non-Hornish Plaintiffs' properties was 100 feet. Finally, the panel denied plaintiffs' motion to supplement the record. View "Hornish v. King County" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the museum in an action brought by plaintiff to recover artwork that was taken by the Nazis from her faither-in-law. The panel held that the Dutch government's transfer of the paintings and its later decisions about the conveyance were "sovereign acts" requiring application of the act of state doctrine. The panel applied the act of state doctrine here, because the relief sought by plaintiff would necessitate the court's declaring invalid at least three official acts of the Dutch government performed within its own territory. The panel also held that exceptions to the act of state doctrine did not apply and the policies underlying the doctrine supported its application in this case. View "Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena" on Justia Law

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The 2007 mortgage crisis pushed to near-default the government-sponsored Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), collectively, “the Enterprises.” The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), 12 U.S.C. 4511, established an independent agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to regulate the Enterprises and the Federal Home Loan Banks. FHFA’s Director placed the Enterprises under the Agency’s conservatorship. SFR owns Nevada properties, acquired from homeowners’ associations (HOAs) following foreclosures on liens for unpaid association dues. FHFA obtained a summary judgment declaration that HERA's Foreclosure Bar, 12 U.S.C. 4617(j)(3) preempts any Nevada law that would permit a foreclosure on a superiority lien to extinguish a property interest of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac while they are under FHFA’s conservatorship, that the HOA Sale did not extinguish the Enterprises’ interest in the properties and did not convey the properties free and clear to SFR, and that title to the properties is quieted in either Fannie Mae’s or Freddie Mac’s favor insofar as the Defendants’ interest, if any, is subject to the interest of the Enterprises or the interest of the Enterprises’ successors. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. Under HERA, FHFA possessed enforceable interests in the properties at the time of the HOA foreclosure sales. Nevada law did not provide SFR with a constitutionally-protected property interest in purchasing the houses with clear title, and, even assuming such an interest, SFR had adequate procedural protections. View "Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order dismissing an action brought by the United States and the Walker River Paiute Tribe against the Walker River Irrigation District and others over water rights in the Walker River basin. In 2015, without briefing or argument on the issue, the district court sua sponte dismissed all of the Tribe's and the United States' counterclaims on res judicata or jurisdictional grounds. The panel held that the district court had continuing jurisdiction over the counterclaims and that it erred in dismissing the claims on res judicata or jurisdictional grounds without giving the parties an opportunity to brief the issue. On remand, the panel ordered the reassignment of this case to another district judge. View "United States v. Walker River Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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Farmers filed suit alleging injury to their water rights after the Nevada State Engineer and the California State Water Resources Control Board approved change applications for a voluntary water rights leasing program managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the Walker River Basin. The Ninth Circuit principally held that the Decree court failed to defer to the findings and conclusions of the state agencies and, to the extent the Decree court entered its own findings, those findings were clear error. In this case, the Engineer properly found that a transfer to the Foundation limited to the consumption portion would avoid conflict and injury to other existing water rights, the findings were supported by substantial evidence, and the Engineer applied the correct legal rule. The panel also held that the export restriction of the Walker River Decree did not prohibit delivering water to Walker Lake because Walker Lake was part of the Walker River Basin. View "United States v. U.S. Board of Water Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified to the Supreme Court of Nevada the following question: Does the public trust doctrine apply to rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation and, if so, to what extent? View "Mineral County v. Walker River Irrigation District" on Justia Law