Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Justin Shafer appealed a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award against Diamond Development & Custom Homes, L.L.C. Shafer argued the district court erred by failing to increase the amount of damages he was awarded. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should narrowly expand the standard for reviewing an arbitration award. The Court declined Shafer’s request to expand the standard of review, and concluded the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Shafer v. Scarborough, et al." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim against Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB and otherwise affirmed the district court order dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint against Wilmington Savings and Selene Finance LP, holding that the district court erred in part.Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that Defendants breached the parties' mortgage contract by selling their property through a non-judicial foreclosure, thus rendering the foreclosure void. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that the foreclosure and sale were conducted without providing adequate notice, as required by the mortgage contract. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiffs stated a claim that the notice of default failed strictly to comply with the requirements of the mortgage contract, and therefore, dismissal of their claim against Wilmington Savings was improper; and (2) as to the remaining claims, dismissal was proper. View "Aubee v. Selene Finance LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and holding that eight of nine restrictive covenants governing Plaintiffs' lots within the parties' residential subdivision were extinguished by operation of North Carolina's Real Property Marketable Title Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. 47B-1 to 47B-9, holding that the eight covenants were extinguished by operation of law.At issue on appeal was whether the court of appeals correctly determined that the Act's thirteenth enumerated exception did not apply to save all of the nine restrictive covenants in question. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly held that all but one of the restrictive covenants, as applied to Plaintiffs' property, were to be extinguished under the Act; and (2) a plain reading of section 47B-3(13) exempts from extinguishment only those covenants that actually require that a property be used residentially within the confines of a general or uniform scheme of development. View "C Investments 2, LLC v. Auger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded this matter for a new trial, holding that the district court erred in proceeding to a trial without a jury on Plaintiff's causes of action for breach of contract, breach of guaranty, and unjust enrichment.Plaintiff's brought this complaint against Defendants for, among other causes of action, forcible entry and detainer. The district court granted relief on the forcible entry and detainer claim, ordering restitution. After a bench trial, the district court heard the remaining causes of action and awarded damages to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff's remaining causes of action were legal in nature, and the issues of fact that arose thereunder entitled Defendants to a jury trial unless waived; and (2) there was no waiver of Defendants' right to a jury trial. View "132 Ventures, LLC v. Active Spine Physical Therapy, LLC" on Justia Law

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Jeff Trosen appealed a judgment and amended judgment awarding damages for a breach of contract claim to the Estate of Shirley Trosen and the Trosen Family Trust and dismissing Jeff’s counterclaim and third-party complaint. A dispute arose over Jeff’s lease of farmland from Shirley. The lease covered the farming seasons of 2017 through 2022. Partial payments were made in 2020 and 2021, leaving balances owed for those years. Shirley and the Trust sued Jeff for breach of contract and to cancel the lease. Jeff argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and by dismissing his counterclaim and third-party complaint. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgments. View "Trosen, et al. v. Trosen, et al." on Justia Law

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Milton Turner died on July 25, 2018. On September 20, 2018, Mildred Williamson petitioned for letters of administration of Turner's estate in the probate court. In her petition, Williamson asserted that Turner had died intestate and that Williamson was Turner's only surviving heir. In 2019, Williamson, individually and in her capacity as the personal representative of Turner's estate, entered into a contract agreeing to sell to Matthew Drinkard and Jefferson Dolbare ("the purchasers") real property belonging to the estate for $880,650. The real-estate sales contract specified that the closing of the sale was to occur on or before May 31, 2019. On February 7, 2019, Williamson, individually and in her capacity as personal representative of Turner's estate, executed a deed conveying other real property that was part of Turner's estate to Marcus Hester. On February 13, 2019, Callway Sargent, alleging to be an heir of Turner's, filed a claim of heirship in Turner's estate. Sargent also moved for injunctive relief in which he acknowledged the February 7, 2019, deed, but asserted that Williamson had agreed to sell and had conveyed real property belonging to Turner's estate without the approval of the probate court, and requested that the probate court enjoin "Williamson from engaging in any further administration of [Turner's] estate until so ordered by [the probate court]." Williamson petitioned to have the case removed fro probate to the circuit court. From February 28, 2019, to March 18, 2019, a number of individuals came forward, all claiming to be Turner's heirs. Williamson moved to have the circuit court approve the pending property sales. Williamson and the purchasers did not close on the sale of the property that was the subject of their real-estate sales contract by May 31, 2019, as required by the contract. Some of the purported heirs petitioned the circuit court to stay or vacate the order approving the purchasers contact until matters regarding the heirs was resolved. Drinkard and Dolbare filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings regarding the administration of Turner's estate, but the circuit court denied the motion. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's denial of the purchasers' motion to intervene in the administration of Turner's estate. View "Drinkard, et al. v. Perry, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the business and consumer docket entered in favor of Plaintiffs vacating the Bureau of Parks and Lands' lease of public reserved land to NECEC Transmission LLC and Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) for construction of a high-capacity transmission line, holding that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease.CMP appealed and Plaintiffs cross-appealed the trial court's decision not to address the substantive question of whether the Bureau had the constitutional authority to lease to the public reserved land. Plaintiffs later moved to dismiss the appeals on the ground that a citizen's initiative rendered the appeals moot. The Supreme Judicial Court denied the motion to dismiss and vacated the judgment below, holding (1) retroactive application of section 1 of the Initiative did not violate the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, and therefore, the lease was not voided by the initiative; and (2) the record established that the Bureau acted within its constitutional and statutory authority in granting the lease. View "Black v. Bureau of Parks & Lands" on Justia Law

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The 1985 “Manning Lease” granted the lessee rights to oil and gas on an approximately 100-acre tract of land in Bowling Green that is adjacent to a quarry. There is a long-expired one-year term, followed by a second term that conditions the maintenance of the leasehold interest on the production of oil or gas by the lessee. Bluegrass now owns the property. Believing that lessees were producing an insufficient quantity of oil to justify maintaining the lease, Bluegrass purported to terminate the lease and sought a declaration that the lease had terminated by its own terms while asserting several other related claims.The district court found that Bluegrass’s termination of the lease was improper and granted the lessees summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded. There is a factual dispute regarding whether the lease terminated by its own terms. The trier of fact must determine if the lessee has produced oil in paying quantities after considering all the evidence. There is a material factual dispute about whether the lessee ceased producing oil for a period of time, and, if so, whether that period of time was unreasonable. View "Bluegrass Materials Co., LLC v. Freeman" on Justia Law

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In this action concerning a disputed agreement between between Kenneth and Rebecca Goens and Lynn VanSloten for the sale of an empty lot, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction under S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3, holding that the underlying interlocutory judgment was not a final judgment under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-54(b) and was therefore not appealable.Kenneth delivered the purchase agreement at issue and VanSloten's earnest money check to FDT, LLC with the intention that FDT act as the closing agent for the property sale. When a dispute arose regarding the earnest money check and purchase agreement the Goenses filed a complaint against FDT and VanSloten. VanSloten asserted a counterclaim against the Goenses. The circuit court granted FDT's motion for summary judgment against the Goenses, but the order did not resolve the remaining claims or contain any certification under S.D. Codified Laws 15-6-54(b). The Goenses appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that because active claims remained in this action at the time of appeal and no Rule 54(b) certification was made, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction under S.D. Codified Laws 15-26A-3. View "Goens v. FDT, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company's decision to rescind an insurance policy purchased for a derelict house Homeowner intended to remodel, holding that questions of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.After a fire occurred, damaging the house and some of its contents, Allstate announced that it was rescinding the homeowners' insurance policy issued to Homeowner, asserting that Homeowner digitally signed an application in which he falsely answered a request as to whether he would occupy the house within thirty days. Plaintiffs, including Homeowner, sued Allstate for breach of contract and unfair trade practices. The circuit court granted Allstate's motion to rescind the policy, concluding that there was no factual dispute that Homeowner had made false statements on his insurance application. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that questions of material fact existed regarding whether Plaintiff's answer to Allstate's thirty-day-occupancy question was false and whether the question was material to Allstate's issuance of the policy. View "McDowell v. Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Co." on Justia Law