Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to enter judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by the owner of a mobile home park alleging that the City engaged in an unconstitutional taking. Plaintiff alleged that the City violated the Fifth Amendment when it approved a lower rent increase than he had requested. The panel applied the factors in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York, 438 U.S. 104 (1978), and held that plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence to create a triable question of fact as to the economic impact caused by the City's denial of larger rent increases; plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence supporting its investment-backed expectations claim; and the character of the City's action could not be characterized as a physical invasion by the government. Based on the evidence, the panel held that no reasonable finder of fact could conclude that the denials of plaintiff's requested rent increases were the functional equivalent of a direct appropriation of the property. View "Colony Cove Properties, LLC v. City of Carson" on Justia Law

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Gilman filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Phillips was a creditor. Gilman identified properties in Van Nuys and Northridge, describing the Northridge property as “in escrow” and claiming a household exemption for the Van Nuys property, and stating “Debtor has Cancer and has not been able to work.” He did not list any contracts relating to the sale of the Van Nuys property. Gilman would later admit that escrow was open on that property when he filed for bankruptcy. Phillips filed an adversary proceeding, alleging fraud, and objected to Gilman’s homestead exemption. Gilman did not oppose the objection and did not appear at the hearing. The bankruptcy court sustained Phillips’ objections. Gilman filed an amended Schedule C, claiming a reduced exemption and obtained Rule 60(b) relief, based on his counsel’s mistaken failure to oppose Phillips’ objections. The bankruptcy court held that escrow did not eliminate Gilman’s right to a homestead exemption. The Ninth Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to review the district court’s order affirming the grant of the homestead exemption; that the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in granting Rule 60(b) relief from judgment on the ground of excusable neglect; and that the bankruptcy court erred in concluding that the debtor established his claim to a homestead exemption under California law without determining whether the debtor intended to continue to reside in the property. View "Phillips v. Gilman" on Justia Law

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The Borrowers filed suit against Wells Fargo based on Wells Fargo and its predecessors' alleged miscalculation of interest on the Borrowers' loans. The Ninth Circuit held that the Home Owners' Loan Act (HOLA) did not preempt the Borrowers' "Interest Rate Calculation" breach of contract claim, which arose under Washington law, because a common law breach of contract claim was not the type of law listed in paragraph (b) of 12 C.F.R. 560.2, but comes within paragraph (c) of that regulation and is a law that only incidentally affects the lending operations of federal savings associations. The panel affirmed summary judgment for Wells Fargo on the Borrowers' "Use of Unapproved Indexes" breach of contract claim, and the other claims related to this alleged conduct by the Lenders. In this case, the Lenders gave notice to their primary regulators of their intent to substitute the Indexes used to calculate interest on the Borrowers' loans and the regulators did not object. The panel also affirmed the denial of the Borrowers' motion for discovery sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 because the Borrowers failed to show prejudice resulting from this ruling. Finally, the panel vacated the district court's denial of attorneys' fees without prejudice. View "Camidoglio LLC v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law

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Defendants, debtors who have failed to repay loans held by BB&T, appealed the respective judgments of the district court against them. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment, holding that BB&T had standing to bring the action; issue preclusion did not bar BB&T's arguments; Subsection (1)(c) of Nev. Rev. Stat. 40.459(1)(c), which limited the ability of a third party to profit by purchasing real estate debt at a discount and foreclosing at full price, was preempted by federal law as applied to transferees of the FDIC; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to BB&T in spite of defendants' affirmative defenses of breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, estoppel, modifications, laches, and failure to mitigate damages; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendants' late-filed motion to amend pleadings because defendants' did not demonstrate good cause nor excusable neglect; defendants were not entitled to a jury trial on the fair market value of the property; and BB&T did not violate Nev. Rev. Stat. 163.120(2) concerning notice to trust beneficiaries. View "Branch Banking & Trust Co. v. D.M.S.I., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Freddie Mac in a quiet title action brought by a plaintiff who purchased real property in a homeowners association foreclosure sale. Plaintiff argued that the Nevada superpriority lien provision empowered the association to sell the home to him free of any other liens or interests, priority status aside. The panel held that the district court did not err in concluding that the Federal Foreclosure Bar superseded the Nevada superpriority lien provision. Although the recorded deed of trust here omitted Freddie Mac's name, Freddie Mac's property interest was valid and enforceable under Nevada law. The panel explained that, because Freddie Mac possessed an enforceable property interest and was under the agency's conservatorship at the time of the homeowners association foreclosure sale, the Federal Foreclosure Bar served to protect the deed of trust from extinguishment. Freddie Mac continued to own the deed of trust and the note after the sale to plaintiff. View "Berezovsky v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment, on remand, in favor of TBC in an action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act concerning a Camille Pissarro painting. The painting was forcibly taken from plaintiffs' great-grandmother by the Nazi government. The panel held that plaintiffs' claims were timely within the statute of limitations recently enacted by Congress to govern claims involving art expropriated during the Holocaust in the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016 (HEAR). The panel applied the Second Restatement of the Conflict of Laws to determine which state's substantive law applies in deciding the merits of this case, and held that the Second Restatement directed the panel to apply Spain's substantive law. The district court erred in deciding that, as matter of law, TBC had acquired title to the painting through Article 1955 of the Spanish Civil Code because there was a triable issue of fact whether TBC was an encubridor (an "accessory") within the meaning of Civil Code Article 1956. Finally, TBC was not entitled to summary judgment based on its laches defense; the great-grandmother's acceptance of the 1958 Settlement Agreement did not foreclose plaintiffs' claims; Spain's Historical Heritage Law does not prevent TBC from acquiring prescriptive title to the painting; and the district court correctly found that the application of Article 1955 to vest TBC with title to the painting would not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. View "Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation" on Justia Law

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The district court entered a consent decree in 1935, known as the Globe Equity Decree, to govern the distribution of water among the Community, the Tribe, and various other landowners. In 2017, the Community, the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District, the United States and thousands of individual landowners entered into the Upper Valley Forbearance Agreement providing that the individual landowners could sever and transfer certain water rights. Pursuant to the Agreement, in 2008, 59 sever and transfer applications were filed by Freeport. After addressing various jurisdictional issues, the Ninth Circuit held that Freeport failed to meet its prima facie burden of demonstrating no injury to other Decree parties; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Freeport's motion under FRCP 15(b)(1) to amend its applications to conform to the revised maps it filed during discovery; the district court's holding that Arizona water law contained an almost identical rule prior to the 1995 amendment was foreclosed by the Arizona Supreme Court's holding in San Carlos Apache Tribe v. Superior Court ex rel. Cty of Maricopa, 972 P.2d 179, 187, 204; and the district court did not clearly err by finding that Freeport had abandoned its water rights at issue in Application 147. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's September 4, 2014, order in part, dismissed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "United States v. Gila Valley Irrigation District" on Justia Law