Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Ravalli County’s motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, holding that Landowners did not satisfy all factors for claim preclusion and failed to follow the proper procedure for seeking review of a Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) denial of a petition to abandon a county road. This dispute centered around where a Ravalli County road (Road) ended and private property began. Specifically at issue was a gate placed on the Road, preventing public access beyond the gate. Landowners, who owned property accessed by the Road, filed a petition with the BOCC to abandon the Road. The BOCC denied the petition and directed Landowners to remove the gate. Landowners filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging claim preclusion regarding removal of the gate and declaratory judgment regarding the end of the Road. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no final judgment or order precluding the County from asserting that the gate should be removed from the Road; and (2) Landowners’ action was properly dismissed because they failed to follow proper procedure for county road abandonment cases. View "Bugli v. Ravalli County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude, LLC in this declaratory action challenging the tax classification of Hiland Crude’s crude oil gathering pipelines in Montana. Hiland Crude owns and operates crude oil gathering and transmission systems in Montana. The Department of Revenue began centrally assessing Hiland Crude’s property in 2013 and classified all of its pipeline systems within the State as class nine property. Hiland Crude filed this suit asserting that gathering pipeline systems should be taxed as class eight property, regardless of whether the property is centrally assessed, because they are “flow lines and gathering lines” under the class eight statute. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment for Hiland Crude. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Hiland Crude. View "Hiland Crude, LLC v. State, Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In this condemnation proceeding initiated by the City of Missoula to condemn the water system serving the City, previously owned by Property Owners, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s orders resolving Property Owners’ claims for attorney and expert fees. After a trial, Property Owners moved for reimbursement of their litigation expenses, arguing that they were prevailing parties. Property Owners argued that Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-306(2) and (3), which cap reimbursement for attorney and expert fees to the customary rate in the county where the case is tried, is unconstitutional both facially and as-applied. The district court concluded that Property Owners were prevailing parties with a right to be reimbursed for their necessary litigation expenses but denied the constitutional challenges to the statute. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in denying Property Owners’ facial constitutional challenge to Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-306, but as to Property Owners’ as-applied constitutional challenge to the statute, this matter must be remanded for further proceedings; (2) did not err by determining that Property Owners were prevailing parties and entitled to recover litigation expenses; and (3) did not err in awarding attorneys’ fees for out-of-state attorneys. View "City of Missoula v. Mountain Water Co." on Justia Law

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In this condemnation proceeding initiated by the City of Missoula to condemn the water system serving the City, previously owned by Property Owners, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s orders resolving Property Owners’ claims for attorney and expert fees. After a trial, Property Owners moved for reimbursement of their litigation expenses, arguing that they were prevailing parties. Property Owners argued that Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-306(2) and (3), which cap reimbursement for attorney and expert fees to the customary rate in the county where the case is tried, is unconstitutional both facially and as-applied. The district court concluded that Property Owners were prevailing parties with a right to be reimbursed for their necessary litigation expenses but denied the constitutional challenges to the statute. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in denying Property Owners’ facial constitutional challenge to Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-306, but as to Property Owners’ as-applied constitutional challenge to the statute, this matter must be remanded for further proceedings; (2) did not err by determining that Property Owners were prevailing parties and entitled to recover litigation expenses; and (3) did not err in awarding attorneys’ fees for out-of-state attorneys. View "City of Missoula v. Mountain Water Co." on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging breach of a lease, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the motions to set aside default and default judgment filed by Anthony Raelund, Candice Raelund, and Raelund Family Trust (collectively, the Raelunds) and the motion for leave to intervene filed by Brooke Anthony Weeks. The Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in (1) denying the motions to set aside default and default judgment for lack of standing to pursue the motions; and (2) denying Weeks’ motion to intervene, where Weeks was not entitled to intervene as a matter of right under Mont. R. Civ. P. 24(a). View "Enz v. Raelund" on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging breach of a lease, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the motions to set aside default and default judgment filed by Anthony Raelund, Candice Raelund, and Raelund Family Trust (collectively, the Raelunds) and the motion for leave to intervene filed by Brooke Anthony Weeks. The Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in (1) denying the motions to set aside default and default judgment for lack of standing to pursue the motions; and (2) denying Weeks’ motion to intervene, where Weeks was not entitled to intervene as a matter of right under Mont. R. Civ. P. 24(a). View "Enz v. Raelund" on Justia Law

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In this condemnation proceeding, the district court did not err in concluding that Mountain Water Company was not entitled to statutory interest pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-302(2), when read in conjunction with Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-311. Mountain Water and the City of Missoula entered into a settlement agreement providing that the City would take possession of Mountain Water’s condemned property upon the City paying Mountain Water for all assets and claims asserted in the previous condemnation action. The district court entered a final judgment in condemnation that included the agreed payment method and transfer of possession as set forth in the settlement agreement. After the district court signed the final order of condemnation, Mountain Water sought post-summons interest. The district court denied Mountain Water’s motion for statutory interest pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 70-30-302(2) and refused to grant discretionary interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mountain Water was not entitled to statutory interest where the City did not take interlocutory possession of the condemned property prior to final conclusion of the condemnation proceedings; and (2) Mountain Water was not entitled to discretionary interest. View "Missoula v. Mountain Water Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court quieting surface title and a one-half interest in a mineral estate to Mark and Jo Marie Nelson, with the remaining half interest in Anthony Palese and Mary Jo Davis. The Nelsons purchased property from Davis and Palese. The deed purported to sell the Nelsons the property in its entirety, with the exception of a portion of the mineral estate reserved in Davis and Palese. The Nelsons and Davis and Palese later leased the property for oil and gas development. In the title search, the Nelsons’ counsel uncovered possible remote heirs with an interest in the property, George and Rose Salituro. The Nelsons brought this quiet title action, and the district court ruled in their favor. The Salituros appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that when Davis and Palese conveyed the property to the Nelsons, the Salituros’ interests in the property had already been extinguished. View "Nelson v. Salituro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s amended complaint against several lenders, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing some of Plaintiff’s claims but erred in dismissing the remaining claims. After Plaintiff defaulted on her loan on real property, she received at least nine notices of sale. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Lenders, alleging six causes of action. The district court granted Lenders’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Mont. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment claim as a matter of law or in dismissing Plaintiff’s negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress claim fore failure to state sufficient facts to entitle her to relief; and (2) incorrectly determined that Plaintiff’s amended complaint failed to state a claim on her asserted breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) claims. View "Puryer v. HSBC Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s claims under the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977 (Landlord-Tenant Act) and alleging violations of restrictive covenants, holding that the district court erred by dismissing Plaintiff’s claims alleging violations of the property covenants’ business use restrictions. Specifically, the Court held (1) where Plaintiff did not allege he was a landlord, tenant or guest or that he otherwise suffered an injury on the premises, Plaintiff could prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief under the Landlord-Tenant Act; and (2) Plaintiff’s business use allegations satisfied notice pleading requirements, and Plaintiff pled sufficient facts to allege a violation of the covenants based on noxious or offensive activity. View "Cossitt v. Flathead Industries, Inc." on Justia Law