Property Law News - U.S. Tenth Circuit
U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Property Law Category

In a case from the wild prair-ee, the Tenth Circuit was called upon to figure out who owns rights to what, stemming from an almost 100-year-old mineral rights law. The Ballad of Jed Clampett this is not.

Stull is a ranching company. It runs a grouse-hunting business above ground in rural Colorado. Entek is a mineral company. It mines for minerals, oil, and other valuable underground stuff -- largely under Stull's land. Entek needed access to Stull's land in order to develop new oil well and to maintain its existing oil wells on adjacent BLM land. Stull said no; Entek's presence would disturb its grouses.

A federal district court granted Entek the right to access portions of Stull's land -- but not the right to cross over Stull's land to service its wells on BLM land.

Hobby Lobby happened: Employers can request an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate portion of Obamacare if the closely held corporation's owners' religious beliefs would be burdened by the mandate.

But it wasn't just the coverage requirement that burdened these owners' religious beliefs. Later that week, the Court issued an order in the Wheaton College appeal, blocking enforcement of the religious accommodation procedures against the college. The college argued that the procedures amounted to facilitating the religiously objectionable conduct (providing birth control). And facilitating the sin is still a sin, it seems.

Though that injunction was far from a decision on the merits, the Obama administration, in a filing in a Tenth Circuit case, has told the appeals court that the accommodation procedure will be tweaked, hopefully to the religious objectors' satisfaction.

The Tenth Circuit can be so fickle. There are days when there is nothing interesting going on, and then there are days like today, with some interesting cases to cover. With two cases getting national attention, we couldn't just pick one, so we'll give you a quick rundown of both.

First, we have an update on the horse slaughter case we discussed back in November, followed by news on polygamy and the meaning of marriage, courtesy of "Sister Wives."

While the thought of eating Seabiscuit is probably revolting to you, as evidenced by the general uproar surrounding the Ikea horse meat meatball scare, many people around the world eat horse meat. The U.S. was poised to export horse meat to other countries including China, Russia, and Mexico but now a twist of legal events has put the plan on hold, reports Reuters.

The Tenth Circuit didn't have any cases making jurisprudential history this week, though it has managed to stay in the news. One item can have serious repercussions for Oklahoma consumers, while the other seems immune from sequester cuts.

Abby Shadakofsky, d/b/a Personal Collection Services ("Shadakofsky"), hired Cheryl Wadas to represent her in a debt collection action against George James. After many procedural mishaps, the parties ended up in federal court with James claiming that Wadas, as Shadakofsky's agent, violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").

The question before the court was whether Wadas regularly engaged in the practice of debt collection, to be considered a "debt collector" for purposes of the FDCPA. The Tenth Circuit found that she was not.

Younger generations are going to look back at these mortgage foreclosure cases with nothing but utter confusion. It seems in every case, a mortgage is passed around more than a certain illicit substance at Snoop Lion concert.

In this case, Glen Llewellyn was a bit miffed after a series of mortgage holders and services reported naughty things to the credit agencies regarding his defaulted/not-defaulted loan. (He refinanced while the loan was being sold to someone else, the money got lost for a bit ... it happens).

We'll never know if the Toones' claims were valid. Well, we have a pretty good idea, actually, thanks to the court's dicta on the matter, but we can't help but wonder if they would've had a chance to adduce additional evidence that would've supported their claims had they made it to discovery. Instead, their case becomes another reminder as to the importance of proper pleading and paperwork.

The Toones' mortgage, like many others in this historic recession, went into foreclosure. It was passed around between banks, like children playing "hot potato." They attempted to save their home through a "Home Affordable Modification Program Loan Trial Period (HAMP) Agreement and by suing every bank and lawyer that ever came into contact with the mortgage. The lawsuit was eventually transferred to federal court and dismissed via 12(b)(6).

Sola Salon Didn't Breach Lease By Assigning Rights

It's not often that we come across a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals case that is largely dedicated to the elements of a contract instead of precedent. Today's case, Sola Salon Studios v. Heller, is a rare exception.

Sola Salon owns salon studios throughout the country, but its operational structure is rather unusual. Sola does not employ beauticians or stylists, and instead contracts with those kinds of professionals to use space that Sola leases from someone else, and allows the professionals to operate their own independent salon studios.

The Tenth Circuit paraphrased Sola's motto as "the stylists are in business for themselves, but not by themselves."

Does the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine Bar Your Foreclosure Appeal?

The old saying, “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again,” does not ring true in the law. While the appellate process provides a certain number of second chances, you can’t relitigate final decisions after you’ve exhausted the appellate process, thanks to double jeopardy and res judicata.

In certain criminal cases, state and federal prosecutors can collaborate on a double jeopardy workaround: criminal defendants can be charged and tried separately for state and federal violations stemming from the same conduct.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us this week that foreclosure appeals do not enjoy a similar state vs. federal backdoor.