Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-289, 122 Stat. 2654, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) became the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2012, FHFA and Treasury adopted the Third Amendment to their stock purchase agreement, which replaced the fixed 10% dividend with a formula by which Fannie and Freddie just paid to Treasury an amount (roughly) equal to their quarterly net worth. Plaintiffs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stockholders, filed suit alleging that FHFA's and Treasury's alteration of the dividend formula through the Third Amendment exceeded their statutory authority under the Recovery Act, and constituted arbitrary and capricious agency action in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). The court held that plaintiffs' statutory claims are barred by the Recovery Act's strict limitation on judicial review; the court rejected most of plaintiffs' common law claims; insofar as the court has subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' common-law claims against Treasury, and Congress has waived the agency's immunity from suit, those claims are also barred by the Recovery Act's limitation on judicial review; in regard to claims against FHFA and the Companies, some are barred because FHFA succeeded to all rights, powers, and privileges of the stockholders under the Recovery Act, and others failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; and, as to the remaining claims, which are contract-based claims regarding liquidation preferences and dividend rights, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Perry Capital LLC v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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Petitioners appealed to the Secretary of HUD after an ALJ found them liable for violations of governing programs administered by HUD. The Secretary upheld the ALJ's liability determinations but imposed higher penalty amounts. Determining that the court had jurisdiction, the court denied petitioners' petition for review, upholding the Secretary's finding of Section 8 violations where Mantua Gardens increased Section 8 tenants' rents without giving the tenants and HUD one year's notice of the proposed termination of a Housing Assistance Payment contract; the Secretary’s reversal of the ALJ’s $450,000 penalty, imposing instead the original amount sought by HUD of $1,260,000; the Secretary's determination that no request was made for Secretarial approval of a prepayment, and therefore no cancellation of the agreement occurred; and the Secretary's determination that HUD conducted an appropriate penalty analysis. Because the Secretary's conclusions are not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, the court denied the petition for review. View "Grier v. HUD" on Justia Law

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This dispute stemmed from a house that Debra Stevenson and her son Eugene Smith both own. After Stevenson refinanced her mortgage twice and then filed for bankruptcy, HSBC filed suit in Bankruptcy Court seeking equitable subrogation, which permits courts to declare that the owner of a mortgage (HSBC) has the same rights as an earlier-in-time owner of another mortgage (Wells Fargo). Only Stevenson signed the paperwork for the second refinancing with HSBC and Smith refused to sign because he thought the interest rate was too high. HSBC went ahead with the mortgage in full without Smith's signature. The court affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's conclusion that HSBC is entitled to equitable subrogation and rejected Stevenson and Smith’s claims that the mortgage is invalid under D.C. and federal lending laws. The court affirmed the judgment. View "In Re: Debra M. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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Developer filed suit against the University after the University terminated the lease agreement between the parties because Developer failed to make a rental payment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the University. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that there is a genuine dispute whether a rental payment was due on May 30, 2013, and therefore whether the University was entitled to terminate the lease and to collect damages. View "Howard Town Center Developer v. Howard University" on Justia Law

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Sunrise claimed that the federal government seized property from criminal defendant Charles Emor belonging to Sunrise. After SunRise was excluded from the criminal proceedings, SunRise filed a third-party forfeiture proceeding claiming ownership in the forfeited property and requesting a hearing to determine its interest. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss SunRise's petition for lack of standing. The court concluded, however, that SunRise has Article III standing where it alleged that its property was taken by the government without due process; the district court improperly dismissed SunRise's claims based on an alter ego finding that the district court made at a hearing in which SunRise was not allowed to participate and SunRise has statutory standing under 21 U.S.C. 853(n)(2); and SunRise stated a valid claim of relief in order to obtain a hearing by alleging that the forfeited property at all times remained the property of SunRise. However, the court concluded that several of SunRise's claims fail as a matter of law and the district court need not consider them on remand. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "United States v. Emor" on Justia Law

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This case involved efforts to create an Armenian Genocide Museum. Gerard Cafesjian, one of the project's principal founders and benefactors, and CFF first filed suit against the Assembly, alleging that the Assembly failed to reissue a $500,000 promissory note as required by a Grant Agreement, asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The court concluded that the district court did not err in its disposition of appellants' claims for breach of fiduciary duty against Cafesjian and John Waters; the district court correctly determined that CFF was entitled to take the Grant Property in full because the Grants were fully funded at the time CFF exercised its reversionary rights; the court found no basis to disturb Cafesjian and Water's indemnification award; the court affirmed the district court's denial of appellants' post-trial motions for relief; and rejected the notion that the Assembly's lease in the Families USA building is invalid. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Armenian Assembly of America, et al. v. Cafesjian, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, descendants of the Herzog Collection's owner, claimed that following World War II the Hungarian government entered into bailment agreements with them to retain possession of the Collection and later breached those agreements by refusing to return the artwork. Hungary appealed the district court's partial denial of its motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs cross-appealed the dismissal of their claims to eleven pieces of artwork on international comity grounds. The court found Hungary's arguments unpersuasive and affirmed the district court's partial denial of its motion to dismiss. However, because the court agreed with plaintiffs that the district court prematurely dismissed several of their claims on international comity grounds, the court reversed that portion of the decision. View "De Csepel, et al. v. Republic of Hungary, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two widowed spouses of homeowners with reverse-mortgage contracts, brought suit against the Secretary of HUD, alleging that HUD's regulation defining the conditions under which it would insure a reverse-mortgage agreement was inconsistent with the applicable statute. The court held that the district court correctly reasoned that if relief for plaintiffs' injuries depended on the independent actions of the lenders, then plaintiffs would lack standing. The court held, however, that assuming the regulation was unlawful, HUD itself had the capability to provide complete relief to the lenders and mortgagors alike, which eliminated the uncertainty of third-party action that would otherwise block standing. Because the court decided that plaintiffs had standing, the court need not consider their alternative argument. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bennett, et al v. Donovan" on Justia Law

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Karen Feld sued her brother, Kenneth Feld, after Kenneth had her forcibly removed from the building in which he owned a condominium she was visiting. Karen sued Kenneth for assault, battery, and false imprisonment. Kenneth counterclaimed that Karen had trespassed on his property. The jury found against Karen on her claims and against Kenneth on his. On appeal, Karen challenged the district court's determination that Kenneth could use force to remove Karen from the common areas of the building. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that under D.C. law, the right to exclude another from one's property includes the right to use reasonable force, and given the findings of the district court, there was no reason to carve out an exception to this rule for condominium owners who seek to exclude persons from common areas. View "Feld v. Feld" on Justia Law

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This was an appeal from the denial of declaratory and injunctive relief against the foreclosure sale of an apartment complex for elderly and disabled low-income residents by HUD. The complex was funded by Section 811 of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act (Section 811), 42 U.S.C. 8013. Following the district court's grant of summary judgment and denial of injunctive relief against the foreclosure sale, HUD resumed foreclosure proceedings. HUD subsequently sold the property to a third party not before the court. Consequently, the court could not grant NBC effective relief and dismissed the appeal as moot. View "NBC-USA Housing, Inc, et al. v. Donovan, et al." on Justia Law