Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo, alleging nonconformity with the requirements for foreclosing home equity loans and seeking a permanent injunction and forfeiture. The district court held that plaintiff's suit was time barred and dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Texas Supreme Court subsequently issued two opinions, Wood v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., 505 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. 2016), and Garofolo v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, L.L.C., 497 S.W.3d 474 (Tex. 2016). The Fifth Circuit held that Wood and Garofolo constitute intervening changes in law sufficient to justify post-judgment relief for plaintiff on her claim to preclude foreclosure but not on her claim for forfeiture. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alexander v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims relating to his mortgage and the foreclosure of his home. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that diversity jurisdiction exists in this case; the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claims for lack of standing to foreclose, quiet title, and breach of contract given that each of those claims was based on the assignment being void; in light of the district court's reasoning and the circumstances of this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to replead his promissory estoppel claim; and plaintiff waived his argument that the district court erred in denying his motion to amend. View "Bynane v. The Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the condo owners association after the foreclosure sale of their condo unit, alleging common law claims for breach of contract, wrongful foreclosure, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as violations of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Texas Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (TFDCPA), and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (TDTPA). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on all claims, holding that regardless whether the district court abused its discretion, any evidentiary error the district court made was harmless. In this case, the issue whether the late fee increase was properly adopted by the Association was not dispositive of any claims, so it did not affect the outcome of the litigation and did not affect their substantial rights. The court also held that plaintiffs' could not maintain their suit for breaches of the Condominium Declaration when they have themselves been in default of the contract; there was no authority supporting plaintiffs' conclusion that an inaccurate balance included in a default notice constitutes a defect in the foreclosure proceedings; and plaintiffs failed to cite specific negligent misrepresentations by defendants. The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "Mahmoud v. De Moss Owners Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit pro se asserting a takings claim against the United States. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that, under the Tucker Act, plaintiff must pursue his claim in the Court of Federal Claims (CFC). The Tucker Act vests exclusive jurisdiction for takings claims over $10,000 in the CFC and plaintiff asserted that he was entitled to $900,000 in just compensation. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed the claim based on lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Sammons v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan for breach of fiduciary duty after the banks served as trustees for plaintiff's trusts. The district court dismissed all but one of plaintiff's claims, finding a breach as to the remaining claim. The Fifth Circuit held that because plaintiff neither pleaded nor tried his case on the frivolous-lawsuit theory, and because Wells Fargo did not consent to a post-trial amendment, it was improper for the district court to award damages against Wells Fargo on that theory. The court also held that plaintiff's claim that he should have received insurance proceeds upon the House Trust's termination was time-barred; the court declined to consider plaintiff's claim that Wells Fargo double-billed the trusts; plaintiff's claim that Wells Fargo breached its fiduciary duty by using trust funds to pay for legal expenses was time-barred; the court rejected plaintiff's claim that Wells Fargo breached a fiduciary duty by failing to advise him; and plaintiff's claim that JPMorgan breached a fiduciary duty by failing to convey title to certain mineral interests was time-barred. View "Jones, Jr. v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased property on which oil and gas operations had been conducted. Plaintiff filed suit against Hess, asserting claims for damages stemming from contamination caused by the oil- and gas-related activities on the tract. The oil and gas leases expired in 1973 and plaintiff purchased the property in 2007, when all wells had been plugged and abandoned. The district court granted Hess's motion for summary judgment, concluding that the subsequent purchaser rule barred plaintiff's claims. The court explained that a clear consensus has emerged among all Louisiana appellate courts that have considered the issue, and they have held that the subsequent purchaser rule does apply to cases, like this one, involving expired mineral leases. Because this case presented no occasion to depart from precedent, the court deferred to these precedents, and held that the subsequent purchaser doctrine barred plaintiff's claims. The court noted that although the denial of a writ is not necessarily an approval of the appellate court's decision nor precedential, the Louisiana Supreme Court has had multiple opportunities to consider this issue and has repeatedly declined to do so. Finally, the court declined to certify questions to the state court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Guilbeau v. Hess Corp." on Justia Law

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The Board filed suit in Louisiana state court against various companies involved in the exploration for and production of oil reserves off the southern coast of the United States, alleging that defendants' exploration activities caused infrastructural and ecological damage to coastal lands overseen by the Board that increased the risk of flooding due to storm surges and necessitated costly flood protection measures. The district court denied the Board's motion to remand after removal to federal court, and then granted defendants' motion for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. The court concluded that the Board's negligence and nuisance claims necessarily raised federal issues sufficient to justify federal jurisdiction and thus the court did not reach the remaining issues. The court also concluded that the district court properly dismissed the negligence claim because the Board failed to establish that defendants breached a duty of care to it under the facts alleged, the Board's strict liability claim failed because the Board did not state a claim that defendants owed it a duty of care; the district court properly dismissed the servitude of drain claim; and the Board failed to state a claim for nuisance. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co." on Justia Law

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Twelve individuals in the Houston area who receive Section 8 housing assistance filed suit against AmeriPro and Wells Fargo, alleging discrimination in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq., on the basis of their receipt of public assistance income. The district court granted defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion and dismissed the claims. The court concluded that the Wells Fargo Applicants did not plausibly allege that Wells Fargo discriminated against them on the basis of their Section 8 income or failed to consider their Section 8 income in assessing their creditworthiness; the AmeriPro Inquirers did not plausibly allege that they are "applicants" under the ECOA because they did not actually apply for credit with AmeriPro; and the AmeriPro Applicants did not plausibly allege that Wells Fargo was a "creditor" with respect to them. Therefore, the court affirmed as to these claims. The court concluded that the AmeriPro Applicants did plausibly allege violations of the ECOA by alleging that AmeriPro refused to consider their Section 8 income in assessing their creditworthiness as mortgage applicants, and that they received mortgages on less favorable terms and in lesser amounts than they would have had their Section 8 income been considered. Accordingly, the court reversed as to these claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alexander v. Ameripro Funding" on Justia Law

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This appeal involves the Bank, Ocwen, and Power Default's attempt to foreclose on property in Grand Prairie, Texas. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's denial of her motion for remand based on its finding that Power Default, a non-diverse defendant and substitute trustee for the attempted foreclosure, was improperly joined in the proceeding because the foreclosure did not take place. The district court concluded that plaintiff had no wrongful foreclosure claim against Power Default absent an actual foreclosure. In this case, because she would have been unable to assert a cause of action against Power Default in state court, the district court found that joinder of Power Default as a defendant was improper. Therefore, the court agreed with the district court's analysis and conclusion denying plaintiff's motion to remand to state court. The court also agreed with the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, concluding that plaintiff may not assert a cause of action for wrongful foreclosure. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Foster v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law

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The executor of Bonnie Pereida's estate filed suit and obtained a judgment on claims brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961. Pereida had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on rare coins that she thought would be a good hedge against inflation. In this case, the majority owner of the company that sold her the coins also owned the company that acted as a purportedly independent grader of the coins, and the grades it had assigned did not reflect the coins’ value. The court concluded that Pereida's RICO claims survived her death, but that the evidence did not prove a pattern of racketeering activity at trial. The court found that there is no evidence from which to conclude that the fraud Pereida fell victim to would have continued indefinitely but for this lawsuit. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings as to state law claims. View "Malvino v. Delluniversita" on Justia Law