Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the claims in Plaintiffs' complaint against WM Capital Management, Inc. and granting summary judgment in favor of WM Capital on its counterclaim, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.This case arose from a dispute over the enforcement of a contract that controlled the liquidation and assignment of several mortgage notes. Plaintiffs initiated an action against WM Capital bringing claims for redemption of property and breach of contract. WM Capital filed a counterclaim seeking specific performance of the contract and joinder of Tenerife Real Estate Holdings, LLC, a signatory to the contract at issue. The district court joined Tenerife, dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint, and granted summary judgment for WM Capital on its counterclaim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err. View "Almeida-Leon v. WM Capital Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this civil forfeiture action against a 2008 33' Contender Model Tournament Vessel, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district judge striking Appellants' answer and claims and granted the government's motion for default judgment, holding that the district court did not err.The district court entered default judgment in favor of the government due to Appellants continually missing their discovery deadlines. After Appellants once again missed a discovery deadline, the district court denied their motion for an extension. The court then granted the government's motion to strike Appellants' answer and claims and the motion for default judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district judge was well within her discretion in striking Appellants' answer and claims and granting the government's motion for default judgment. View "United States v. De Jesus-Gomez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this action brought under the civil portion of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1964(c), holding that Plaintiff had not and could not meet the causation of injury requirements set forth at 18 U.S.C. 1964(c).In 2014, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission granted a gaming license to Wynn, MA, LLC, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts, Ltd. (collectively, Wynn), allowing Wynn to construct a casino in Everett, Massachusetts. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts had also applied for a license and had proposed a casino facility on a site in East Boston owned by Plaintiff, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendants, including Wynn, conspired to deprive Mohegan of a gaming license, therefore costing Sterling the opportunity to least its site to Mohegan. The district court dismissed the action. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not show a "direct injury" from Wynn's actions, and so its RICO claims failed as a matter of law. View "Sterling Suffolk Racecourse v. Wynn Resorts, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the bankruptcy court declaring a foreclosure void and awarding Appellant damages but denying relief on her remaining claims, holding that Appellant's challenges on appeal were either waived or otherwise unavailing.After two attempts to foreclose the mortgage on a condominium that Appellant purchased she filed a six-count adversary complaint in the bankruptcy court naming five defendants, the financial institutions and law firms connected with the foreclosure. The bankruptcy court granted summary judgment as to one count in favor of Appellant, voiding one of the foreclosures, but denied the remaining claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant's challenges were either waived or baseless. View "Jackson v. ING Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting JPMorgan Chase Bank's (Chase) motion to dismiss Mark and Beth Thompson's action for breach of contract and for violating the statutory power of sale Massachusetts affords mortgagees, holding that the foreclosure sale was not void.The Thompsons alleged that Chase failed to comply with the notice requirements in their mortgage before foreclosing on their property. The mortgage terms for which Massachusetts courts demand strict compliance include the provisions in paragraph 22 of the mortgage requiring and prescribing the pre-foreclosure default notice. The Thompsons argued that because paragraph 19 of the mortgage included conditions and time limitations on the Thompsons' post-acceleration reinstatement right, Chase failed to strictly comply with paragraph 22's notice requirement by failing to inform the Thompsons of those conditions and limitations. The district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit held that the paragraph 22 notice the Thompsons received was potentially deceptive and, therefore, the foreclosure sale was void. The Court then withdrew its decision and certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Because the SJC held that the paragraph 22 notice could not have been misleading for omitting paragraph 19's deadline, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Thompson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court granting Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB a declaratory judgment declaring invalid a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that had previously been granted to Nina Collart's father, Lucien, on property in Massachusetts and granting Wilmington an equitable lien in the property, holding that the court abused its discretion in granting Wilmington an equitable lien.Wilmington sued Nina in her individual capacity as trustee of the Lucien R. Collart, Jr. Nominee Trust and the Anne B. Collart Nominee Trust and also named as a defendant Thomas Mann, Jr., named in his capacity of the Nina B. Collart Trust. Wilmington sought a declaratory judgment that the HELOC was a valid encumbrance on the property and further sought an equitable lien on the property. The district court held that the HELOC was invalid and that Wilmington was entitled to an equitable lien against the property. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the lien was based on an error of law and that the defendants should have had judgment entered in their favor. View "Wilmington Savings Fund Society v. Collart" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC in Josephine Donahue's suit against Ocwen and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), holding that summary judgment was properly granted on the only claim at issue here.Donahue executed a mortgage for her home that was assigned to Ocwen. Donahue later defaulted on the mortgage. Ocwen held a foreclosure auction and was the highest bidder. Donahue subsequently field suit against GNMA and Ocwen, alleging three counts. The district court granted summary judgment to Ocwen on all claims but did not address Donahue's still-pending claims against GNMA. Donahue appealed, seeking review of only the grant of summary judgment to Ocwen on Count III of her complaint. Donahue subsequently dismissed her claims against GNMA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the prudent course is to assume appellate jurisdiction, despite the parties' disagreement as to whether this Court has appellate jurisdiction, given how clear the merits are; and (2) there was no disputed fact precluding summary judgment on the only claim at issue here. View "Donahue v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the federal district court allowing Rhode Island's motion to return to state court its state court complaint against several oil and gas companies for damage caused by fossil fuels, holding that the allegations in Rhode Island's complaint did not give rise to federal-officer jurisdiction.In 2018, faced with rising sea levels and other property damage from extreme weather events caused by climate change, Rhode Island sued, in state court, several oil and gas companies for damage caused by fossil fuels while those companies misled the public about their products' true risks. The oil companies removed the case to federal district court. Rhode Island moved for the case to be remanded to state court. The district court granted the motion and ordered the case remanded to state court. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that there was no subject matter jurisdiction under the federal-officer removal statute. View "State of Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the Town of Pembroke, New Hampshire and dismissing the complaint filed by Signs for Jesus and Hillside Baptist Church (collectively, the Church) challenging the Town's denial of the Church's application for a permit to install an electronic sign on its property, holding that the Town met its summary judgment burden on all counts.Hillside Baptist Church applied for a permit to install an electronic sign on its property to transmit messages provided by the nonprofit corporation Signs for Jesus. The Pembroke Zoning Board of Adjustment denied the permit, citing a provision in the Pembroke Sign Ordinance that bans the use of electronic signs in the zoning district where the Church was located. The Church later brought this complaint, alleging violations of the state and federal Constitutions, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and certain New Hampshire zoning laws. The district court granted summary judgment for the Town and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Church's state statutory claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err. View "Signs for Jesus v. Pembroke, New Hampshire" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Defendant's appeal from the order of the district court granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on its diversity action seeking a declaratory judgment specifying its property rights in a commercial complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, holding that the district court never issued a final decision.After granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, the district court directed Plaintiff to submit a proposed declaration for the Court's consideration and instructed the Clerk of Court to enter judgment as to Defendants. After Defendant filed a notice of appeal Plaintiff submitted its proposed declaration. The district court, however, stayed the proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal. The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that, without a final declaratory judgment, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "WM Capital Partners 53, LLC v. Barreras, Inc." on Justia Law