Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Gregory Hull appealed a district court decision concerning the allocation of development costs he was required to share with Richard Giesler and Idaho Trust Deeds, LLC. This case was the second appeal arising from a series of oral and written agreements between the parties to exchange and subdivide property. Hull argued the district court erred by excluding testimony from his expert witness. Both parties requested an award of attorney fees on appeal. Finding no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to disallow the expert’s testimony, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hull v. Geisler" on Justia Law

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Chad and Jane Barnes appealed a district court’s order granting summary judgment and dismissing their lawsuit against Kirk Jackson. In 2014, Barnes filed suit against Jackson seeking a declaration of forfeiture as to Jackson’s water right (“Jackson’s Right”). Barnes alleged that Jackson’s Right was unused for the five-year statutory period and was therefore forfeited. The district court explained that, under the resumption-of-use doctrine, statutory forfeiture is not effective if, after five years of nonuse, an appropriator resumes use prior to the assertion of a claim of right by a junior appropriator. The district court noted that Jackson had used the water as early as 2012, two years before Barnes purchased his property; therefore, Barnes was barred from asserting that he had relied upon Jackson’s unused water since 2012. The district court acknowledged Barnes’ related argument, that he was somehow connected to his predecessor in interest, and therefore could assert the predecessor’s claim of right. However, the district court noted that there was no statutory or legal basis for the position. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Jackson. Finding no reversible error after review of the district court record, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barnes v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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Lincoln Land Company, LLC (“Lincoln Land”) appealed a district court’s judgment which dismissed Lincoln Land’s complaint. LP Broadband cross-appeals the district court’s denial of LP Broadband’s motion for attorney fees. The dispute arose over LP Broadband’s placement and use of antenna equipment on the rooftop of a grain silo owned by Lincoln Land, but leased to General Mills. General Mills had allowed MicroServ Computer Technologies, Inc., (“MicroServ”) (which merged with LP Broadband in 2013) to utilize the rooftop space on the property since March 2000, in exchange for $50 per month. Lincoln Land subsequently purchased the grain silos and, in 2010, executed a lease agreement with General Mills, which specifically prohibited a sublease of the property without prior written consent from Lincoln Land. Notwithstanding the lease provision, General Mills continued to sublease the rooftop space to LP Broadband. Upon discovering that LP Broadband was using the rooftop space, Lincoln Land filed a complaint against LP Broadband for unjust enrichment. Therein, Lincoln Land argued that it had conferred a benefit to LP Broadband and that it would be inequitable for LP Broadband to retain such a benefit without compensating Lincoln Land. The district court dismissed the complaint after concluding that Lincoln Land failed to establish that it, not General Mills, had conferred the benefit to LP Broadband. Finding no reversible error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lincoln Land Co v. LP Broadband" on Justia Law

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Galust Berian filled in a ditch on property owned by Yvette Sturgis. The ditch served property owned by Jade and Kylie Mortensen. The Mortensens sued Berian and Sturgis seeking damages and to have the ditch reopened. Berian counterclaimed for trespass. The district court ruled in favor of the Mortensons on their claim regarding the ditch and awarded the Mortensens damages for the cost of repairing the ditch. The district court also found in favor of Berian on his counterclaim for trespass but awarded only nominal damages. Berian and Sturgis appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mortensen v. Berian" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ronald and Margaret Swafford challenged a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondent Huntsman Springs, Inc. The action stemmed from the Swaffords’ claim that Huntsman Springs failed to comply with the Master Plan by essentially cutting off their property from the development. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Huntsman Springs after concluding that all of the Swaffords’ claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. It was uncontested that the improvements were completed in 2008. Without ruling upon whether Huntsman Springs misrepresented the development of the property at issue, the Idaho Supreme Court determined if Huntsman Springs misrepresented the development of the Property, the Swaffords could have discovered the misrepresentation when the improvements were completed in 2008. The Swaffords did not bring their misrepresentation action until July 17, 2015, which was nearly four years after the deadline. Finding no genuine issues of fact with respect to the time at which the Swaffords' causes of action accrued, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Swafford v. Huntsman Springs Inc" on Justia Law

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In a quiet title action, a landowner brought suit against a lender to extinguish a deed of trust that was recorded against the landowner’s property. The landowner claimed that the lender’s time to foreclose the deed of trust had expired. The district court denied a motion to enter default judgment in favor of the landowner, finding, among other things, that the statute of limitations to foreclose the deed of trust had not run. The district court entered a judgment dismissing the landowner’s suit. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment. View "CMJ Properties v. JP Morgan Chase Bank" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of Richard Gomez’s breach of a real estate agreement for the sale and purchase of residential real estate from Todd Phillips in his capacity as Trustee of Trust “A” of the Elliott Family Trust. Phillips appeals a district court’s denial of Phillips’s request to recover actual damages. After a bench trial, the district court held that Phillips’s claim for breach of contract had been fully satisfied by Phillips’s retention of the non-refundable earnest money as liquidated damages as provided by the agreement. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Phillips v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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Kenneth and Donna Johnson appealed a district court judgment recognizing a tribal judgment from the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court (Tribal Court). The Johnsons owned land within the Coeur d’Alene Reservation (Reservation) on the banks of the St. Joe River and had a dock and pilings on the river. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Tribe) initiated an action in Tribal Court to enforce a tribal statute which required a permit for docks on the St. Joe River within the Reservation. The Johnsons did not appear and a default judgment was entered against them. The judgment imposed a civil penalty of $17,400 and declared that the Tribe was entitled to remove the dock and pilings. On January 2016, the Tribe filed a petition to have the Tribal Court judgment recognized in Idaho pursuant to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. I.C. sections 10-1301, et seq. The district court held the Tribal Judgment was valid and enforceable, entitled to full faith and credit. However, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court was incorrect in holding the Tribal Judgment was entitled to full faith and credit, and the civil penalty was not entitled to recognition in Idaho courts. However, the Idaho Supreme Court held the Tribal Court had jurisdiction over the Johnsons and the subject matter of this case; the Johnsons did not meet their burden of establishing the Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction, and the Johnsons were afforded due process in Tribal Court. In this case the judgment comprised two parts: (1) the civil penalty of $17,400; and (2) the declaration that the Tribe had the right to remove the offending encroachment. The civil penalty was not enforceable under principles of comity. However, the penal law rule does not prevent courts from recognizing declaratory judgments of foreign courts. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent that it recognized the Tribal Court’s judgment imposing the civil penalty of $17,400. The Court affirmed the judgment recognizing the Tribal Court judgment regarding the Tribe’s right to remove the dock and pilings. View "Coeur d' Alene Tribe v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the foreclosure of nine commercial condominium units owned by Michael Hulsey and SM Commercial Properties, LLC. Prior to a sheriff’s sale, SM Commercial Properties filed bankruptcy. Eventually the bankruptcy stay was lifted and the sale took place. Washington Federal bought the property with a credit bid and then asserted a deficiency against Hulsey. The district court found that Washington Federal failed to prove both the existence of a deficiency as well as the fair market value of the property. On appeal, Washington Federal argued: (1) Hulsey was precluded from litigating the fair market value of the property based on the bankruptcy court proceedings; and (2) the district court erred when it determined that Washington Federal failed to prove the existence of the deficiency and the fair market value of the property. Both parties appealed the district court’s denial of attorney’s fees, but Hulsey dismissed his cross-appeal at the time of oral argument. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of Washington Federal’s claim for a deficiency, but vacated the judgment denying Washington Federal’s costs and attorney’s fees incurred to enforce the judgment and decree of foreclosure. View "Washington Federal v. Hulsey" on Justia Law

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This is an easement dispute between two adjoining landowners and a claim to quiet title. Plaintiffs Bedard and Musser, and Boise Hollow Land Holdings, RLLP (collectively, Boise Hollow) filed suit against Boise City seeking a declaration that they: (1) hold an access easement over part of Quail Hollow Golf Course pursuant to a recorded Permanent Easement Agreement; and (2) were entitled to expand the easement area to comply with certain requirements of the Ada County Highway District so that it can be dedicated as a public road. The district court rejected Boise Hollow’s position on summary judgment, finding that the agreement did not create an easement because the entity which purported to grant the easement across the golf course property had only a leasehold interest at the time the agreement was signed. Moreover, the same party owned both the land where the easement was located (the servient estate) and the land to which the easement was appurtenant (the dominant estate). The district court further found that any access that was granted by the lessor under the agreement terminated when the leasehold was terminated by an express agreement. The district court entered judgment in favor of Boise City. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Bedard & Musser v. City of Boise" on Justia Law