Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against her ex-husband’s estate alleging that his life insurance proceeds rightly belong to her. The court held that the district court correctly determined that the Interspousal Agreement and the Final Judgment could not be orally amended. The court explained that, by its plain terms, the Interspousal Agreement requires any modification to be in writing and executed with the same formalities as the agreement. In this case, plaintiff had no proof any oral amendment to the Final Judgment related to the policy. Furthermore, New Jersey law automatically revokes the beneficiary designation on divorce unless the "express terms" of a court order say otherwise. Because plaintiff's affidavit cannot change the express terms of a court order and the court order does not expressly mention the policy, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Rose v. Estate of Joel S. Bernstein" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's directed verdict and the jury's verdict in favor of appellees in an action involving a dispute between landowners and herbicide damage. The court held that the district court did not err in directing a verdict against Keller Farms on it statutory trespass count. In this case, the district court properly interpreted the Missouri trespass statute to exclude Keller Farm's claim for crop damage, and the district court did not err in determining that Keller Farms had not presented sufficient evidence to make a submissible case for its statutory trespass claim concerning damage to its windbreak and ornamental trees. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding a warning letter as well as testimony about it under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 because it was unfairly prejudicial; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial on the ground that appellees' closing argument was improper. View "Keller Farms, Inc. v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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CitiMortgage filed suit against Equity, demanding that Equity repurchase 12 residential mortgage loans. CitiMortgage had notified Equity that it needed to take action under the cure-or-purchase provision in the parties' Agreement. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the magistrate judge's ruling that Equity's duty to repurchase was limited to the six loans that had not gone through foreclosure. In regard to the loans that had not gone through foreclosure, the court affirmed the district court's holding that Equity breached the Agreement. The court rejected Equity's claims that CitiMortgage's letters lacked the necessary detail to trigger its duty to perform and that CitiMortgage waited too long to exercise its rights. In regard to the six loans that had gone through foreclosure, the court affirmed the district court's holding that Equity owed nothing to CitiMortgage. In this case, CitiMortgage has not explained what, exactly, Equity was supposed to repurchase. View "CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Equity Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the United States in this civil forfeiture action. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by striking claimant's claim, because he willfully disobeyed the discovery orders. The court also held that defendant's motions to dismiss and constitutional arguments were moot. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of CapDev's motion to cancel the lis pendens. The court held that the district court acted within its discretion in canceling the lis pendens as invalid under Missouri law, because the imprecise description of the property at issue did not connect it to any particular request for equitable relief. View "Enterprise Financial Group Inc. v. Podhorn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the city in an action brought by landlord after the city revoked his rental-dwelling license. The court held that Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 860 F.3d 1106, 1109 (8th Cir. 2017), was controlling in this case, and that landlord failed to allege a plausible claim to relief under the Fair Housing Act. Giving landlord's complaint the honest, fair assessment he invites, the court was left with the inescapable conclusion that his claim was indeed about the city's alleged hyper-enforcement of its housing code against for-profit landlords, which was essentially the same allegation that this court considered and rejected in Ellis. View "Khan v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed an adverse order by the FAA's Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition (ODRA) regarding property Southern leased to the Administration. Southern subsequently sold the property and surrounding land to Prairie Land, assigning its lease with the FAA to Prairie Land. After the FAA refused to vacate the premises, Prairie Land initiated a contract dispute with the ODRA. The court held that the FAA's continued occupancy of the property was permitted, and the ODRA did not err by concluding that the holdover provisions permitted the FAA to holdover on the property until either a new lease was agreed upon or it acquired the property in fee. Therefore, the FAA was fully within its rights to continue possessing the property. View "Prairie Land Holdings, LLC v. FAA" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal were the pleading requirements for a verified claim in a civil forfeiture proceeding. The Eighth Circuit previously held that a claimant who contests a forfeiture must state its interest in the disputed property "with some level of specificity," and that "a general assertion" of an interest in property is insufficient to satisfy the governing rule of procedure. The court held that the "specificity" requirement imposed by the court's prior decision was not supported by Supplemental Rule G(5), and that LNG's claim was sufficient to comply with Rule G(5). In this case, LNG satisfied the Rule G(5) requirement by stating that it was the owner of the currency at issue and it had a claim to, interest in, and right to the property. The court reasoned that, to impose a mandate that the claimant must provide more detail or specificity, such as information about how it obtained the funds at issue, would go beyond the sparse terms of the rule. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order striking LNG's claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. LNG Express, Inc." on Justia Law

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A group of landowners filed suit against Dakota Access, alleging that they were induced to sign easement contracts allowing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their properties based on various misrepresentations made by Dakota Access and its contracting affiliate CLS. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that plaintiffs' claim under North Dakota law sounded in fraud, and all plaintiffs' claims were thus governed by the heightened pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). In this case, the complaint failed to plead such facts as the time, place, and content of defendant's false representations, as well as the details of defendant's fraudulent acts, including when the acts occurred, who engaged in them, and what was obtained as a result. View "Olin v. Dakota Access, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over who was the rightful owner of a Martin D-35 guitar that Elvis Presley played during his final tour in 1977. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the Museum, holding that the Museum was not bound by a prior Tennessee judgment between defendant and the guitar donor because the Museum was not a party to that action and was not in privity with the donor. In this case, the donor had already delivered the guitar to the Museum at the time defendant commenced the Tennessee action. Therefore, the donor had title to the Martin D-35 guitar when he transferred the guitar to the Museum and the Museum owned the guitar. View "National Music Museum v. Moss" on Justia Law