Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
Plaintiffs filed suit against Nationstar and others, asserting claims relating to defendants' servicing of plaintiffs' home loan. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692-1692p; intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED); and a violation of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Nev. Rev. Stat. 598.0915–598.0925, 598.0934. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' claims of violations of sections 1692c(a)(2), 1692d, and 1692e pursuant to Ho v. ReconTrust Co. The court reasoned that Nationstar was not engaged in "debt collection" and thus defendants were not "debt collectors" when interacting with plaintiffs. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiffs' claim under section 1692f(6) on the ground that Nationstar was not collecting a debt. The court explained that, unlike sections 1692c(a)(2), 1692d, and 1692e, the definition of debt collector under section 1692f(6) includes a person enforcing a security interest. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that Nationstar threatened to take non-judicial action to dispossess plaintiffs of their home without a legal ability to do so. The court noted that such conduct is exactly what section 1692f(6) protects borrowers against. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly dismissed plaintiffs' claims of IIED and of violation of the DTPA. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Dowers v. Nationstar Mortgage" on Justia Law

by
Larry and Kari Miller, both Arizona domiciliaries, owned a cooperative apartment held in each of their names, as husband and wife. First Community Bank, a judgment creditor of Larry Miller, obtained a lien against the couple's co-op. Under Arizona law, the co-op would be treated as community property. Under California law, the co-op would not constitute community property because it was not acquired by the couple while they were domiciled in California. The court held that while the co-op owned by the couple did not come within the definition of community property in California, as that term is defined in Section 760 of the California Family Code, it does come within the definition of a tenancy-in-common. The court explained that the interests of a co-tenant in such tenancies, which are presumed to be held in equal shares, are subject to the enforcement of a judgment lien. In this case, applying California's choice-of-law rules, the court held that California law governs, and that the co-op would be treated as a tenancy-in-common, as defined in Section 685 of the California Civil Code, making Larry Miller's interest in the co-op subject to enforcement of the judgment lien. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's reversal of the bankruptcy court's summary judgment for the creditor, remanding for further proceedings. View "In re Miller" on Justia Law

by
The government obtained warrants authorizing it to seize roughly $100 million from bank accounts controlled by appellants, and asserted that the funds were proceeds from a criminal activity and thus subject to forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. 981. Appellants argued that, although they learned of the seizure shortly after it occurred, they did not receive notice pursuant to section 983(a)(1)(A) of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), 18 U.S.C.. 983(a)(1)(A), within 60 days of the seizure. The court concluded that section 983(a)(1)(A)(i) limited the applicability of the 60-day notice deadline to "nonjudicial" civil forfeiture proceedings. The court concluded that, because this case involved judicial forfeiture proceedings, this section does not apply. The court explained that the government could not have pursued nonjudicial forfeiture proceedings even if it had wanted to because the value of the property far exceeded $500,000. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Omidi v. United States" on Justia Law

by
After DEA agents seized $99,500 in cash from plaintiff's carry-on bag at San Francisco International Airport, the DEA sent plaintiff a notice on May 1, 2013, informing plaintiff that the money was subject to forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. 881 as a result of a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The notice stated that June 5, 2013 was the deadline to file a contest of the forfeiture. On June 4th, 2013, plaintiff's attorney tendered plaintiff's claim to FedEx for overnight delivery to the DEA, but the DEA did not receive the claim until June 6th. Plaintiff eventually filed a motion for return of property under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), arguing that the DEA had wrongfully deemed his claim untimely and that the district court should exercise its equitable jurisdiction to toll the filing deadline. The district court held that it had equitable jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's motion, but denied plaintiff's motion on the merits. The court treated section 983(e) of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), 18 U.S.C. 983(e), as a claim-processing rule. In this case, the district court correctly determined that it had jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's motion for equitable relief because there is no clear jurisdictional limitation to CAFRA. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that he pursued his rights diligently and that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion. View "Okafor v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Claimants challenge the government’s seizure of two J.P. Morgan Chase bank accounts in a civil asset-forfeiture action. In a verified complaint seeking forfeiture, the government contends that Claimants unlawfully used the accounts to launder money connected with illicit drug proceeds. Claimants answered and filed verified claims in response to the complaint, alleging that they held ownership and possessory interests in the seized funds sufficient to confer standing. The district court entered judgment in favor of the government. The court concluded that the district court did not err by holding that Claimants failed to provide indicia of their own ownership of the funds sufficient to defeat summary judgment. However, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Claimants, the court held that Claimants’ explanation of their respective possessory interests in the seized funds, coupled with supporting evidence in the form of declarations, deposition testimony, bank records, and other evidence, raises a material dispute of fact for trial. Therefore, the court concluded that Claimants have standing to challenge the forfeiture. The court also concluded that there is sufficient evidence of a possessory interest to confer prudential standing. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Samaniego" on Justia Law