Recently in Property Law Category
Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but it’s unnecessary for a bank in Minnesota to possess a promissory note when it commences foreclosure.
Kenath Stein challenged the validity of both the foreclosure of his home by Chase Home Finance (Chase), and the redemption of his home by National City Bank (National), a junior lienholder. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the banks this week.
Action Concerning Insurance Coverage
In Council Tower Assn. v. Axis Specialty Ins. Co., No. 09-3900, an action against an insurer, asserting insurance coverage and related claims for losses incurred when a portion of the brick veneer covering the east wall of plaintiff's apartment building fell to the ground, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where the falling of less than one-third of plaintiff's decorative brick veneer was not a collapse of a part of the building within the meaning of the Additional Coverage for Collapse provision of the policy.
Action Under Commercial Liability Policy
In Lexicon, Inc. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., No. 10-1100, an action claiming that defendant-insurers were obligated under commercial general liability policies to cover certain property damage, the court affirmed in part summary judgment for defendants where the district court correctly held the insurers were not obligated to reimburse plaintiff for its reconstruction of its collapsed silo. However, the court reversed in part where it was foreseeable that faulty subcontractor work would damage the silo, but not foreseeable that faulty subcontractor work would cause millions of dollars in collateral damage.
Action to Enjoin Rock Quarry Ordinance
In Rogers Group, Inc. v. Fayetteville, No. 09-3915, an action seeking to prevent the enforcement of a city's ordinance regulating rock quarries in or near the city's corporate limits, the court affirmed a preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs where 1) the city's statutory authority extended one mile beyond its corporate limits but only to abate a nuisance, and the quarry was not a nuisance per se under Arkansas law; and 2) plaintiffs established a likelihood of irreparable harm because any customers the quarry lost, if and when the ordinance went into effect, would be unlikely to return once the ordinance's restrictions are lifted.
Judgment Allowing Watershed District Access to Private Property Affirmed
In The Minch Family LLLP v. Buffalo-Red River Watershed Dist., No. 09-3223, an action claiming that the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) exceeded the scope of a judge's order authorizing the BRRWD to "clean out" or remove accumulated silt and topsoil from a ditch running next to a road along the length of one of plaintiffs' fields, the court affirmed judgment on the pleadings for defendants where the plain meaning and clear import of the state court's order was to allow BRRWD access to not only plaintiffs' ditch, but also to the surrounding area necessary to conduct the clean-out.
Also, Decisions in Contract, Criminal and Property Matters
Trim Fit, LLC v. Dickey, No. 08-3711, involved an action for breach of a noncompetition agreement and unfair competition. The court of appeals affirmed partial judgment for both parties, holding that 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the amendment of plaintiff's counterclaim; and 2) a party will not be granted relief that is not pled when it would unduly prejudice the opposing party. However, the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees is remanded where the district judge's ruling that there was no statutory basis for an award of attorney's fees was erroneous.
Usery v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., No. 09-1113, concerned an action to quiet title to a mineral interest. The Eighth Circuit reversed the denial of plaintiffs' motion to remand the action to state court, holding that defendants' evidence did not establish that the value of the mineral interest exceeded $75,000 and thus that diversity jurisdiction was proper.
In US v. Robertson, No. 09-1612, the court of appeals affirmed in part defendant's convictions for attempted aggravated sexual abuse and attempted abusive sexual contact in Indian country, holding that 1) the government proved that defendant had the intent to commit attempted aggravated sexual abuse; 2) nothing in the instructions permitted the jury to disregard the mens rea standard of specific intent; and 3) defendant did not meet his burden of showing that any improperly admitted hearsay statements prejudiced his substantial rights. However, the court reversed in part, on the ground that abusive sexual contact (Count II) was a lesser-included offense of aggravated sexual abuse (Count I) and defendant's being convicted on both Counts I and II therefore violated the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against double jeopardy.
In Turnage v. Fabian, No. 09-1668, a murder prosecution, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's habeas petition, on the grounds that 1) the petitioner was attempting to raise a new claim in federal court that he failed to present in state court; and 2) petitioner failed to demonstrate either cause and prejudice or a fundamental miscarriage of justice that would permit us to review his defaulted federal claim.
Yankton Sioux Tribe v. US Army Corps of Eng'rs., No. 08-2255, involved an action by the Yankton Sioux Tribe challenging the validity of land transfers by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the State of South Dakota. The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that 1) the fee-patented lands at issue were outside the "external boundaries" of the reservation before they were acquired by the Corps; and 2) allotted lands still held in trust became lands "located outside the external boundaries" of the Reservation when fee simple title was acquired by the Corps for the Fort Randall Dam project.
Plouffe v. Ligon, No. 08-3996, concerned an action seeking to enjoin attorney disciplinary proceedings that defendant initiated against plaintiff. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the action, on the grounds that the district court properly abstained under Younger because 1) the disciplinary proceedings against plaintiff implicated important state interests; 2) the attorney disciplinary proceedings provided plaintiff an adequate opportunity to raise his constitutional claims; and 3) Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(e) was not "flagrantly and patently" unconstitutional "in whatever manner and against whomever an effort might be made to apply it."
Wells Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l., Inc., No. 09-1628, involved a breach of contract action alleging that defendant failed to pay for product it had ordered and received from plaintiff. The court of appeals affirmed judgment for plaintiff, on the ground that the district court had personal jurisdiction over defendant because defendant purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities within Iowa when it solicited an Iowa company for business, sought to purchase the Iowa company's products on credit provided by the Iowa company, negotiated and fulfilled the "customer pick up" delivery term, and entered into more than 100 transactions over the course of two years, during which it relied on the Iowa company for customer support.
Lackawanna Chapter of the Rwy. & Locomotive Historical Soc., Inc. v. St. Louis Cty., No. 09-2487, involved an action for replevin of the historic locomotive "No. 952," currently on display at the Museum of Transportation (the Museum) in St. Louis, Missouri. The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, on the ground that the statute of limitations barred the replevin action because undisputed evidence demonstrated that in 1995 and 1996 defendant took actions inconsistent with the bailment.
Knutson v. Fargo, No. 08-1894, involved an action arising out of flooding that occurred on plaintiffs' property. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that the district court was required to give preclusive effect to a prior state court judgment under the Full Faith and Credit Act.
As the court wrote: "Douglas and Linda Knutson appeal from the order of the District Court dismissing without prejudice their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against the City of Fargo, North Dakota. On July 8, 2003, a cast-iron water main belonging to the City broke, flooding the Knutsons' property and damaging their house and yard. In August 2004, they filed suit against the City in state court seeking damages under state-law legal theories of inverse condemnation, intentional trespass, and negligence. The state district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment, and the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. Knutson v. City of Fargo, 714 N.W.2d 44 (N.D. 2006). The Knutsons did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court."
- Full Text of Knutson v. Fargo, No. 08-1894
Quigley v. Winter, No. 08-3630, involved a sexual harassment action against plaintiff's landlord under the Fair Housing Act. The court of appeals affirmed judgment for plaintiff in part on the grounds that 1) defendant could not show "a complete absence of probative facts" supporting the jury's verdict and that no reasonable jury could have found in plaintiff's favor; 2) the jury could reasonably infer that defendant was telling plaintiff the return of her deposit was conditioned upon defendant seeing more of plaintiff's body or even receiving a sexual favor; and 3) even if the admission of evidence regarding a government investigation of defendant was an error, any possible prejudice was cured by the district court's instruction. However, the court reversed the judgment in part on the ground that the district court erred in the degree to which it reduced the jury's punitive damage award failed to conduct a proper analysis of plaintiff's entitlement to attorney fees.
In US v. Rector, No. 09-1190, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's convictions for possessing, distributing, and receiving child pornography, holding that defendant's prosecution did not violate the Speedy Trial Act because the district court properly held that a continuance would serve the ends of justice by allowing: 1) the defendant to retain new counsel; and 2) counsel to seek admission to the district and prepare for trial.
In US v. Myers, No. 09-1621, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for failing to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 2250(a), holding that 1) the harm of defendant's prior conviction was not fully accounted for by either Guideline at issue alone, so no double-counting occurred; and 2) even if double-counting occurred in this case, it was permissible because the Sentencing Commission intended the result, and the offense level and criminal history sections address different concerns.