Property Law Decisions: Decided

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The Supreme Court is reaching the final cases of its October 2014 term, and has some doozies on the docket.

From raisin rights to marriage rights and the right to a humane execution, here are some of the highlights on next week's SCOTUS oral argument calendar.

Mass. Strip Club Can Buck Regulations Thanks to Federal Ruling

A strip club in Massachusetts can operate with fewer restrictions thanks to a recent federal appellate court's ruling.

Showtime Entertainment LLC sued the town of Mendon because of the hamlet's "maze of regulations" which made it near impossible to establish or operate an adult entertainment business there. Mendon's bylaws focused specifically on adult entertainment businesses like Showtime, requiring them to be within a size and height limit, mandating off-duty policemen to patrol the business, and forbidding alcohol.

Why did the court rule for Showtime over Mendon's rules?

Wash. Judge Rules for No-Pot City, Blocks MJ Shops

A Washington state judge has ruled that a suburb of Tacoma can prohibit marijuana retail operations despite the new state law legalizing the practice.

The ruling came in a case brought by a resident of the town of Fife who wished to open a pot shop there but was blocked by city authorities, reports The Associated Press.

What was the basis of the ruling and what does it mean for the future of Washington's still-fresh foray into legalized marijuana sales?

Chicago's Gun Ban Struck Down, but Ruling Placed On Hold

A city ban on gun sales within Chicago is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said the city ban, aimed to curb gun violence, is unconstitutional because it goes too far in barring buyers and dealers from engaging in lawful sales. The ruling opens the possibility for retail gun retailers to set up shop in Chicago.

For now, however, the judgment is stayed, until the city can figure out its next steps.

NYC Tenants' Settlement Upheld in Alleged Landlord Fraud Case

A NYC tenant settlement affecting more than 20,000 rent-regulated tenants has been upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On Monday, the federal appeals court ruled that a 2011 settlement of a tenants' class-action lawsuit was indeed reasonable and fair, The New York Times reports.

This ruling has paved the way for these tenants to seek individual compensation from their landlord over rent overcharges and any other complaints.

But why did the settlement come into question in the first place?

New York, Occupy Wall Street Settle Books Lawsuit for $232k

NYC librarians can quietly rejoice as Occupy Wall Street's "People's Library" settled a federal lawsuit with the city over the destruction of 2,800 books during a police raid on Zuccotti Park in late 2011.

The $232,000 Occupy settlement has raised a few eyebrows because of where the bulk of the money is going.

Floating Home Was Not a Boat, Supreme Court Rules

Don't call it a "houseboat." The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that a Florida man's floating home was not a vessel. For the record, a houseboat has means of propulsion, and Fane Lozman's home did not.

Because of that distinction, the "floating home" should not have been seized by the City of Riviera Beach under federal maritime law, the Court held.

But why would a city try to seize a man's houseboat -- er, floating residence -- in the first place? And then argue it all the way up to the Supreme Court? Well, the home's owner was a bit of a pain in the neck, NPR reports.

Foreclosure Settlement to Cost 10 Banks $8.5B

There's good news for past and present homeowners, as a group of 10 banks have reached a settlement over claims of foreclosure abuse.

The deal makes changes to an enforcement action by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. The original action required banks to hire independent consultants to investigate foreclosure abuse and make victims whole.

But that process proved both inefficient and ineffective. Now the parties have reached a separate agreement that will hopefully benefit foreclosure victims.

Digital Data on Cell Phones Don't Get Privacy Protections: Court

Be careful what you keep on your cell phone, because digital data will not be given privacy protection under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), according to a federal court.

The SCA prohibits unauthorized access to digital information stored in temporary and back-up storage, but the law doesn't specify what kind of storage is protected from unsanctioned investigation.

That question has been cleared up by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the ruling is not necessarily consumer-friendly.

Supreme Court's Dam Decision May Open the Floodgates to Lawsuits

The Supreme Court has found that the federal government may have to compensate property owners who suffer flood damage caused by the government. This dam decision may open the floodgates to litigation.

In an 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court found that intentional flooding caused by the Army Corps of Engineers in Missouri may be considered government taking of the property. This would be no different than a government occupation or invasion of property, the court ruled.

As a result, the government may have to compensate the property owners.