Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s eight-count complaint. Plaintiff filed his complaint in state court against the servicers, holders, and assignees of his mortgage loan. Relevant to this appeal was count one, a claim predicated on the Massachusetts Predatory Home Loan Practices Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183C. The matter was removed to federal court, which dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 183C was time-barred, and Plaintiff presented no reason to toll the applicable statute of limitations; and (2) the trial justice did not err in denying Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint because the amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Rife v. One West Bank, F.S.B." on Justia Law

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In this action seeking to, among other things, quiet title to certain property, the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Defendants. After he was informed that his loan secured by a mortgage on his Massachusetts property was in default, Plaintiff sued Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC and US Bank, N.A. (collectively, Defendants), seeking unclouded title to the property, an injunction against foreclosure, and damages. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed all counts of Plaintiff’s complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendants were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Defendant failed to plead any set of facts that would entitle him to relief. View "Rezende v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit summarily affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims that HSBC could not foreclose on their property under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, 14 and that the mortgage encumbering their property was obsolete by operation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 33. Plaintiffs borrowed money from a lender to purchase property. Plaintiffs executed a promissory note and mortgage identifying Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as the mortgagee. MERS later assigned the mortgage to HSBC Bank USA, N.A. After Plaintiffs defaulted on their loan HSBC provided notice of a foreclosure sale. Plaintiffs sued HSBC and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the mortgage servicer, to enjoin the sale. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The First Circuit agreed that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim, substantially for the reasons articulated by the district court. View "Hayden v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded this case involving the ownership of the Touro Synagogue building and associated land and rimonim used in the worship in the Touro Synagogue. Congregation Jeshuat Isreal (CJI) brought a declaratory judgment against Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI), and CSI counterclaimed. The district court concluded that CJI was owner of the rimonim and that CSI was owner of the building and real estate subject to a trust for CJI as representing the practitioners of Judaism in Newport, Rhode Island. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the only reasonable conclusions to be drawn from the parties’ own agreements determining property rights by instruments customarily considered by civil courts are that CSI owns both the rimonim and the real property free of any trust or other obligations to CJI except as lessor to CJI as holdover lessee. View "Congregation Jeshuat Israel v. Congregation Shearith Israel" on Justia Law

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The Penobscot Nation filed suit against the state of Maine and certain state officials (collectively, the State Defendants) claiming rights to a sixty-mile stretch of the Penobscot River, known commonly as the Main Stem. The district court made two rulings on cross-motions for summary judgment, concluding (1) the Penobscot Indiana Reservation includes the islands of the Main Stem but not the waters of the Main Stem, and (2) Penobscot Nation was allowed to take fish for individual sustenance in the entirety of the Main Stem section of the river. The First Circuit affirmed the first ruling and vacated the second ruling on sustenance fishing and ordered dismissal, holding (1) the plain language of the definition of “Penobscot Indian Reservation” in the Maine Implementing Act and the Maine Indiana Claims Settlement Act includes the specified islands in the Main Stem but not the Main Stem itself; and (2) Plaintiffs’ second claim was not ripe, and, under the circumstances, the Nation lacked standing to pursue the claim. View "United States v. Mills" on Justia Law

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Municipal ordinances banning coal combustion residuals from landfills were preempted by Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board’s approval of the disposal. AES Puerto Rico, a coal-fired power plant owner, claimed that two municipal (Humacao and Peñuelas) ordinances banning the approved handling of "coal combustion residuals" (CCRs) were preempted by federal and Commonwealth law and violated various provisions of the federal and Puerto Rico constitutions. The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) had authorized disposal of coal ash at the El Coquí and Peñuelas Valley landfills within those municipalities. The district court granted summary judgment for the municipalities on AES's federal claims and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the Commonwealth claims. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the local ordinances may not be enforced to the extent they directly conflict with Commonwealth law as promulgated by the EQB. View "AES Puerto Rico, L.P. v. Trujillo-Panisse" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs took out a loan to buy a property in Massachusetts. Plaintiffs executed a mortgage naming the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as the mortgagee and executed a promissory note to Chevy Chase Bank, FSB. Plaintiffs later fell behind on their mortgage. U.S. Bank, which was assigned the mortgage and came into physical possession of the note, conducted a foreclosure sale of the property and purchased the property. Plaintiffs filed suit against U.S. Bank, MERS and other defendants, alleging, inter alia, a claim for a declaratory judgment that the foreclosure was invalid. The district court disposed of the complaint by (1) granting Defendants’ partial motion to dismiss several counts for failure to state a claim; (2) granting summary judgment to U.S. Bank on its counterclaim for possession; and (3) granting summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiffs’ remaining claims and to U.S. Bank on its counterclaim for deficiency. The First Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the entry of judgment in favor of U.S. Bank on its deficiency claim was in error because U.S. Bank did not comply with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, 17B; and (2) the judgment of the district court was otherwise without prejudicial error. View "Galvin v. U.S. Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2005, the Rhode Island Supreme Court found that title to the Regatta Club in Newport and the parcel of land on which it was constructed belonged to a group of condominium associations. Thereafter, the operator of the Regatta Club (Operator) voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Two of the title-holding associations (together, Associations) filed proofs of claim seeking relief for the Operator’s alleged trespass on their property between 1998 and 2005. The First Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court’s finding that the Associations had impliedly consented to the Operator’s use and occupancy of the Regatta Club and remanded on the issue of whether there was an implied obligation that the Operator pay the Associations for its use and occupancy of the Club. On remand, the bankruptcy court found (1) there was no such implied-in-fact contract between the parties, and (2) the Associations were not entitled to relief under a theory of unjust enrichment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) no implied-in-fact contract existed between the parties; and (2) the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that inequity would not result if the Operator did not pay the Associations for the use and occupancy of the Regatta Club during the claim period. View "Goat Island South Condominium Ass’n v. IDC Clambakes, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Appellants went bankrupt, Appellees foreclosed on their home. Appellants each received an IRS Form 1099-A in the mail at the end of the tax year stating that the foreclosure might have tax consequences. The mortgage debt, however, was discharged during Appellants’ Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Appellants sued Appellees, claiming that the Forms were a coercive attempt to collect on the mortgage debt, which Appellees had no right to collect. The bankruptcy court found the Forms gave Appellants “no objective basis” to believe Appellees were trying to collect the discharged mortgage debt. The district court affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the evidence in the record showed that the Forms were not objectively coercive. View "Bates v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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The underlying dispute in this case concerned a mortgage purported granted by Andrew and Maureen DeMore to the predecessor in interest to HSBC Bank, USA, N.A. on a parcel of property owned by the DeMores. This appeal came by way of bankruptcy court after each of the DeMores filed separate voluntary petitions for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. Donald Lassman, as trustee for the DeMores’ bankruptcy cases, filed adversary actions against HSBC to avoid the mortgage, arguing that the mortgage on the DeMores’ property was voidable under Massachusetts state law because the certificate of acknowledgment was “materially defective.” Specifically, Lassman asserted that the certificate failed to make clear that the DeMores executed the mortgage as their free act and deed. The Bankruptcy Court granted summary judgment to Lassman. The district court reversed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the certificate of acknowledgment was not materially defective because it made clear that the DeMores had executed the mortgage as their free act and deed. View "HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Lassman" on Justia Law