Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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The D.C. Circuit held that the district court properly entered summary judgment for judicial foreclosure to the property at issue, because D.C. law allows the holder of a note to enforce the deed of trust by judicial foreclosure. In this case, there was no genuine dispute of material fact that the Bank holds the Note. The court rejected defendant's counterclaim for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as defendant's counterclaim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Furthermore, the Bank has carried its burden of showing there was no genuine dispute of material fact with respect to the quiet title counterclaim; defendant forfeited his claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); and, in regard to the civil conspiracy claim, defendant failed to meet the heightened pleading requirements for fraud. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Henderson" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the government based on claimants' lack of Article III standing in a civil forfeiture case. The court held that claimants met their burden of making an assertion of ownership and provided some evidence of ownership to establish standing. The court explained that credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts were jury functions and not those of a judge. In this case, the record was devoid of contradictory evidence, claimants consistently maintained that the money was theirs, nothing in their account was physically impossible, and the couple explained how they came to own the money in considerable detail. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. $17,900.00" on Justia Law

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This case stems from the Herzog family's effort to recover a valuable art collection seized during the Holocaust. On remand, the district court concluded that the family's claims against the Republic of Hungary, its museums, and a state university satisfied the expropriation exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1604, and that no other provision of the Act barred their claims. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Herzog family's claims to art never returned to them satisfied the Act's expropriation exception; remanded for the district court, with respect to art that was returned to the Herzog family, to determine whether the claim to recover each piece may proceed under the expropriation exception; instructed the district court to dismiss the Republic of Hungary as a defendant and to grant the Herzog family leave to amend their complaint in light of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, Pub. L. 114–308, 130 Stat. 1524; and dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Hungary's appeal from the denial of its motion to dismiss on exhaustion grounds. View "De Csepel v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia 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