Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court quieting title on the mineral rights in lands conveyed by two deeds in 1913 in Box Creek Mineral Limited Partnership. Box Creek brought this action against BNSF Railway Company seeking to quiet title in the mineral rights at issue. The parties disputed whether the 1913 deeds passed a fee simple estate from Box Creek to BNSF, thereby conveying the underlying mineral estate, or if the deeds merely conveyed an easement in fee simple, whereby the minerals would not pass to BNSF. The district court concluded that the deeds were ambiguous and that the parties intended an easement-like conveyance rather than a fee simple interest and quieted title to the mineral estate in Box Creek. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly concluded that the parties intended a limited grant from Box Creek to BNSF, in what amounted to an “easement-like conveyance"; and (2) the district court properly admitted the testimony of Marc Strahn as expert witness testimony. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. Box Creek Mineral Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting Heather Hope Schumacher’s motion to enforce a settlement agreement she entered into with Cowboy’s LLC after Cowboy’s failed to pay Schumacher the money as agreed. Schumacher claimed that her divorce decree awarded her certain property, that her ex-husband failed to convey the property to her, and that she had filed lien statements against the disputed property, which was then owned by Cowboy’s. The parties eventually reached a settlement agreement requiring Cowboy’s to pay Schumacher $98,742 in return for her release of all liens against the property. When Cowboy’s failed to pay Schumacher as agreed, Schumacher sought an order requiring Cowboy’s to comply with the settlement agreement. The district court ordered Cowboy’s to perform as agreed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Schumacher’s liens were valid and enforceable; and (2) the “deemed denial” of Cowboy’s motion to set aside the order enforcing the settlement agreement was properly denied. View "Cowboy's LLC v. Schumacher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Bank in this quiet title action. Plaintiff filed suit seeking to quiet title to property he purchased at a tax sale. Bank, the mortgagee on the property and a defendant in the quiet title suit, alleged that Plaintiff’s tax deed was void. The district court granted summary judgment for Bank, concluding that the statutorily-required notice regarding redemption provided by Plaintiff to the property owner and to Bank was deficient and that the tax deed was void. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Bank had standing to challenge the validity of Plaintiff’s tax deed; (2) because Plaintiff failed to notify Bank of the redemption period, the tax deed was void; (3) the district court’s reference to a document not contained in the record was error, but it was not reversible error because that document was not relevant to the material facts in this case; (4) the doctrine of laches and unclean hands did not bar Bank’s arguments regarding the validity of the tax deed; and (5) Plaintiff’s statutory claims for reimbursement were not ripe for review. View "Montierth v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action against the Board of County Commissioners of Teton County challenging the Teton County Land Development Regulation prohibiting fractional ownership of campgrounds, holding that the regulation was unenforceable because it exceeded the County’s zoning authority. Specifically, the Court agreed with Plaintiff that the regulation prohibiting fractional ownership did not regulate the use of the land, only its ownership, and was, therefore, beyond the County’s zoning authority and unenforceable. View "Board of County Commissioners of Teton County, Wyoming v. Mackay Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over Plaintiffs’ right to prepay a contract for deed and Defendant’s obligation to deliver the deed, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s rulings in favor of Plaintiffs. The district court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs and ordered Defendant to pay attorney fees and costs for discovery violations. The Supreme Court agreed with Plaintiffs’ statement of the dispositive issues, holding (1) Defendant's appeal of the declaratory judgment ruling was untimely; (2) the district court properly awarded fees and costs for failure to present cogent argument or pertinent authority; and (3) Plaintiff should be awarded sanctions pursuant to Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05. View "Byrnes v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the district court’s order recognizing and adopting the settlement Richard Hodson reached with Janet Sturgeon. In the settlement, the parties agreed to resolve their pending lawsuit and to divide their jointly owned property. Hodson challenged the district court’s order adopting the settlement through this pro se appeal, apparently arguing that the district court erred in refusing to enforce an agreement that allegedly existed before he filed his lawsuit. The Supreme Court held that Hodson failed to comply with the court’s rules of appellate procedure, and therefore, summarily affirmed the district court’s order. The court also granted Sturgeon’s request for an award of costs and attorney fees. View "Hodson v. Sturgeon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this complaint filed by Plaintiffs asserting a claim for adverse possession based on Plaintiffs’ fencing and grazing of livestock on a strip of Defendants’ property. The Supreme Court held (1) genuine issues of material fact existed with respect to Plaintiffs’ prima facie adverse possession claim, and therefore, the district court did not err in denying Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on this claim; and (2) the district court erred in granting Defendants summary judgment on their claim that Plaintiffs’ use of the disputed property was permissive. View "White v. Wheeler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners granting Four Shadows, LLC a basic use permit (BUP) to use its property in Teton Village for temporary construction storage/staging. The court held (1) Appellants had an interest that was greater than the general public’s, giving them standing to maintain their appeal as persons aggrieved and adversely affected in fact by the Board’s decision to issue the permit; and (2) the Board’s decision to grant Four Shadows a BUP for temporary use of the property for construction storage/staging was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law. View "Tayback v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Appellants owned residential property in Teton County. JCFT Wyoming Real Estate, LLC owned two parcels in the same area. The Teton County planning director, at Appellants’ request, issued a formal rule interpretation concerning a development permit associated with the JCFT property. At JCFT’s request, the planning director issued a zoning compliance verification (ZCV) concerning JCFT’s smaller parcel. Appellants appealed the rule interpretation and the ZCV decision. The Teton County Board of County Commissioners dismissed the appeals, concluding that Appellants lacked standing to appeal either action. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellants lacked standing to challenge the Teton County planning director’s rule interpretation and ZCV decision; and (2) neither decision was ripe for judicial review. View "Moose Hollow Holdings, LLC v. Teton County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Appellants sought the establishment of a private road along the upper portion of Black Mountain Road in Big Horn County, but the Big Horn County Board of County Commissioners established a private road along the lower portion of Black Mountain Road. Appellants argued that the route was illogical, unproductive, and uneconomic and was procedurally barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the district court’s earlier decision in a decision letter did not address the question of whether the proposed private road was reasonable or convenient, collateral estoppel and law of the case did not apply; and (2) the Board’s conclusion that Lower Black Mountain Road was more reasonable and convenient than Upper Black Mountain Road was supported by substantial evidence. View "Whaley v. Flitner Limited Partnership" on Justia Law