Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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At issue in this appeal was whether a conservation restriction imposed in 2013 on a property owned by the Frank Sawyer Revocable Trust restarted the 12-year statute of limitations of the Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so that NE 32nd Street, LLC, as agent for the trust, can sue to extinguish a spoilage easement granted to the federal government in 1938. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint and held that the statute of limitations barred a challenge to the 80 year old easement and the 2013 permit did not change the terms of that easement to the detriment of the trust. View "NE 32nd Street, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and Petroquimica de Venezuela, S.A., alleging unlawful expropriation of their property in violation of international law. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied their motion for leave nunc pro tunc to file an amended complaint. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court issued Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al. v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co., 137 S. Ct. 1312 (2017), which detailed the showing that plaintiffs such as the ones in this case must make in order to have jurisdiction over a foreign state in United States courts under the expropriation (i.e., takings) exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court remanded for the district court to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and, after defendants have responded, to address whether the domestic takings rule applied and whether jurisdiction existed under the FSIA's expropriation exception. View "Comparelli v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the City's motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial in an inverse condemnation action. In this case, the underlying dispute involved a beachfront parcel owned by plaintiffs, which experienced significant public usage. The court held that the evidence at trial supported the jury's finding that a physical taking occurred through the continuous occupation of plaintiffs' property by members of the general public where the City encouraged public occupation by placing beach access signs, clearing vegetation, creating nearby parking spaces, hosting events at the property, and refusing to remove trespassers. The court also held that there was no basis to grant a new trial. Finally, on the City's request for fee simple ownership of the beach parcel upon payment of the judgment—the court held that such relief was not warranted under Florida law and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the City's request to transfer title. The court held that the City has paid for, and was entitled to, a permanent easement across plaintiffs' beach property for the benefit of the public and directed the district court to amend its judgment to reflect this permanent easement. View "Chmielewski v. City of St. Pete Beach" on Justia Law

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In an in rem admiralty proceeding involving the wreckage of Spanish galleons, Fleet-Queens recovered approximately four hundred gold coins, among other treasures, from an area that Gold Hound had allegedly been salvaging while acting as a subcontractor for Fleet-Queens. Gold Hound filed suit claiming that this discovery was made using its proprietary maps and software, seeking to intervene in the in rem action to assert a maritime lien over some of these artifacts and to assert state law claims. The district court denied the motion to intervene and concluded that Gold Hound was not entitled to a maritime lien. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly determined that it had and continues to have subject-matter jurisdiction over the res; Gold Hound should be granted leave to intervene in this proceeding to assert its in rem claims; and, on remand, the court deferred to the district court's discretion to determine whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Gold Hound's state law claims. The court vacated the district court's denial of Gold Hound's motion to intervene and its denial of Gold Hound's claim to a maritime lien and remanded, because the court could not decide on the record whether Gold Hound may succeed because basic facts remain in dispute. View "Salvors, Inc. v. Unidentified Wrecked & Abandoned Vessel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to move or extend the Brick-Kiln Dock to improve its accessibility. Plaintiffs argued that the deed by which plaintiffs conveyed the island property to the government and reserved the right to continue to use the dock permitted them to relocate the dock. Alternatively, plaintiffs contend that the Park Service's denial of permission to relocate or extend the dock was arbitrary and capricious. The court affirmed the district court's determination that, under the plain language of the deed, plaintiffs have no reserved right to unilaterally relocate or extend the dock. The court also concluded that the Park Service's denial of permission to relocate or extend the Dock was not arbitrary or capricious and did not exceed its authority. In this case, the Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. 1131(a), foreclosed relocation of the Dock, and the Park Service was authorized to regulate the marshlands. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "High Point, LLLP v. National Park Service" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased a luxury yacht from Seller, the yacht was manufactured by Horizon and its wholly-owned subsidiary Premier in Taiwan, Horizon and Premier are Taiwanese companies, and Seller is an independent U.S. corporation based in Florida. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging ten claims related to the purchase of the yacht. The district court entered summary judgment for defendants on all but two claims: the breach of express warranty claims against Horizon and Premier; entered summary judgment for Seller on its counterclaim to foreclose on the promissory note; and certified the judgment as a partial final judgment for interlocutory review. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the entry of summary judgment as to: (1) the fraudulent inducement claims against all three defendants (Count I); (2) the breach of implied warranty claims against all three defendants (Counts III, IV, and VII); and (3) the breach of express warranty claim against Seller, Horizon Yachts, Inc. (Count VIII). The court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Counts I, III, IV, VII, and VIII and remanded for trial; affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to the remaining claims; and reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on defendants' counterclaim. View "Global Quest v. Horizon Yachts" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the SEC initiated the Nadel action following the collapse of a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Arthur Nadel. In 2010, the district court entered an order establishing a claims administration process by which potential claimants could file proof of their claims against the receivership. Wells Fargo submitted a Proof of Claim as to its loan that secured one receivership property within the set claim bar date, but did not submit a Proof of Claim detailing its secured interest in the other two receivership properties. In 2012, Wells Fargo submitted a motion seeking a determination that the filing of Proofs of Claim was unnecessary to preserve its security interests in, and claims against, collateral in the Receiver's possession. In the alternative, Wells Fargo sought leave to file belated claims. The district court granted the Receiver's motion seeking a determination that Wells Fargo's failure to submit Proofs of Claim for the loans secured by two properties extinguished its interests in those properties, and the release of the proceeds from the sale of one of the properties for which Wells Fargo did not file a Proof of Claim. Determining that Wells Fargo's appeal was timely, the court concluded that the district court erred when it terminated Wells Fargo's security interest in the properties at issue. The court found bankruptcy law was both analogous and instructive here. The court reasoned that, in the bankruptcy context, a secured creditor’s lien remains intact through the bankruptcy, regardless of whether the creditor files a proof of claim. In this case, the court concluded that Wells Fargo's security interests remained intact as to the two properties for which it did not file a Proof of Claim in the district court. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "SEC v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, alleging that the five letters sent to them between May 16 and December 13, 2013 violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq., and/or the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), Fla. Stat. 559.55 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in concluding that the HOA fine at issue is not a debt for FCCPA purposes and granting summary judgment on that basis. The court did not decide whether under Florida law Marbella could be vicariously liable for the FCCPA violations of its agent because the district court failed to apply Florida law in the first instance. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Affinity, vacated the grant of summary judgment to Marbella, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Agrelo v. The Meloni Law Firm" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a marine salvor, filed this action in rem against the Blacksheep, seeking a salvage award for services he provided to the yacht. The district court entered judgment against plaintiff, finding that he failed to show that his services were necessary to the rescue of the Blacksheep. The court concluded, however, that a claim for a salvage award does not require such a showing. In this case, the district court's findings and some facts from the record could support the conclusion that plaintiff's action contributed to saving the Blacksheep where he deployed his high-capacity dewatering pump; dove below the ship where he successfully pushed the propeller shaft twelve inches closer to its intended position; and applied packing material to prevent further flooding. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Girard v. M/V "Blacksheep"" on Justia Law

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Under Regulation X, 12 C.F. R. part 1024, which implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., a loan servicer’s duty to evaluate a borrower’s loss mitigation application is triggered only when the borrower submits the application more than 37 days before the foreclosure sale. At issue is whether Ocwen, a loan servicer, had a duty to evaluate an application for loss mitigation options submitted by the Borrowers when, at the time the application was submitted, a foreclosure sale of the Borrowers’ property was scheduled to occur in two days. The court concluded that Regulation X requires the court to measure the timeliness of the Borrowers’ application using the date the foreclosure sale was scheduled to occur when they submitted their complete application. Because the Borrowers’ application was untimely, the court agreed with the district court that Ocwen had no duty to evaluate the Borrowers’ loss mitigation application. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Ocwen on the Borrowers’ claim seeking to hold Ocwen liable for failing to evaluate their loss mitigation application. The court also affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment with respect to the Borrowers’ claim based on Ocwen’s inadequate response to their notice of error. The court agreed with the district court that to survive summary judgment the Borrowers had to present evidence that they suffered actual damages or were entitled to statutory damages and that they failed to do so. View "Lage v. Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC" on Justia Law